Jurisdiction of the United Nations - An Overview

This article discusses the jurisdiction of the United Nations, a large number of contentious issues faced by the United Nations and the creation of a peace building commission. The below article throws light on the constructive role played by India in the United Nations, thus making a case for its Permanent Membership in the United Nations Security Council. 

Aspirants would find this article very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

Creation of a Peace building Commission

As the UN completed 60 years of its existence, the heads of all the member-states met in September 2005 to celebrate the anniversary and review the situation. The leaders in this meeting decided that the following steps should be taken to make the UN more relevant in the changing context.

  1. Acceptance of the responsibility of the international community in case of failures of national governments to protect their own citizens from atrocities
  2. Establishment of a Human Rights Council (operational since 19 June 2006)
  3. Agreements to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
  4. Condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations
  5. Creation of a Democracy Fund
  6. An agreement to wind up the Trusteeship Council

Contentious Issues for United Nation

It is not hard to see that these are equally contentious issues for the UN. What should a Peace building Commission do? There are any number of conflicts all over the world. Which ones should it intervene in? Is it possible or even desirable for it to intervene in each and every conflict? Similarly, what is the responsibility of the international community in dealing with atrocities? What are human rights and who should determine the level of human rights violations and the course of action to be taken when they are violated? Given that so many countries are still part of the developing world, how realistic is it for the UN to achieve an ambitious set of goals such as those listed in the Millennium Development Goals? Can there be agreement on a definition of terrorism? How shall the UN use funds to promote democracy? And so on.

India And The UN Reforms

India has supported the restructuring of the UN on several grounds. It believes that a strengthened and revitalised UN is desirable in a changing world. India also supports an enhanced role for the UN in promoting development and cooperation among states. India believes that development should be central to the UN’s agenda as it is a vital precondition for the maintenance of international peace and security. One of India’s major concerns has been the composition of the Security Council, which has remained largely static while the UN General Assembly membership has expanded considerably. India considers that this has harmed the representative character of the Security Council. It also argues that an expanded Council, with more representation, will enjoy greater support in the world community. We should keep in mind that the membership of the UN Security Council was expanded from 11 to 15 in 1965. But, there was no change in the number of permanent members. Since then, the size of the Council has remained stationary. The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly members now are developing countries. Therefore, India argues that they should also have a role in shaping the decisions in the Security Council which affect them. India supports an increase in the number of both permanent and non-permanent members. Its representatives have argued that the activities of the Security Council have greatly expanded in the past few years. The success of the Security Council’s actions depends upon the political support of the international community. Any plan for restructuring of the Security Council should, therefore, be broad-based. For example, the Security Council should have more developing countries in it. Not surprisingly, India itself also wishes to be a permanent member in a restructured UN. India is the second most populous country in the world comprising almost one-fifth of the world population. Moreover, India is also the world’s largest democracy. India has participated in virtually all of the initiatives of the UN. Its role in the UN’s peacekeeping efforts is a long and substantial one. The country’s economic emergence on the world stage is another factor that perhaps justifies India’s claim to a permanent seat in the Security Council. India has also made regular financial contributions to the UN and never faltered on its payments. India is aware that permanent membership of the Security Council also has symbolic importance. It signifies a country’s growing importance in world affairs. This greater status is an advantage to a country in the conduct of its foreign policy: the reputation for being powerful makes you more influential. Despite India’s wish to be a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN, some countries question its inclusion. Neighbouring Pakistan, with which India has troubled relations, is not the only country that is reluctant to see India become a permanent veto member of the Security Council. Some countries, for instance, are concerned about India’s nuclear weapons capabilities. Others think that its difficulties with Pakistan will make India ineffective as a permanent member. Yet others feel that if India is included, then other emerging powers will have to be accommodated such as Brazil, Germany, Japan, perhaps even South Africa, whom they oppose. There are those who feel that Africa and South America must be represented in any expansion of the permanent membership since those are the only continents not to have representation in the present structure. Given these concerns, it may not be very easy for India or anyone else to become a permanent member of the UN in the near future.

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The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2020.

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