QUESTION : Explain Multilateralism and the basis of India’s claim to a permanent seat at the UN. and challenges to India’s claim.
CHINA’S RISE AND FALL AT THE UN
Challenges before China at UN Is An Opportunity for India
WHY IN NEWS ?
The United Nations turned 75 this year. India also beat China in the elections for a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This was the first such victory in a decade.
CHINA’S STRENGTHS :
• Taking advantage of its position as a member of the P-5 and as a huge aid giver, China made itself invincible in UN elections.
• It won among others, the top positions at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
CHINA’S RISE AT THE UN – HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :
• World War II saw strong U.S.-China collaboration against the Japanese, including U.S. operations conducted from India.
• Their bilateral ties saw the U.S. include the Chinese in a group of the most important countries for ensuring world peace post- World War II, along with the U.S., the USSR and the U.K.
• This enlarged into the P-5, with France being added by the UK at the San Francisco conference held in 1945 where the UN charter was finalised.
• The pure multilateralism of the League of Nations was thus infused with a multipolarity, with the U.S. as the sheet anchor.
CHINA’S REDUCED STATURE :
• China lost the election to tiny Samoa for a seat on the UN Statistical Commission.
• It just about managed to get elected to the UN High Rights Council, coming forth out of five contestants for four vacancies.
• China’s candidate had lost to a Singaporean in the race for DG World Intellectual Property Organization.
MULTILATERALISM UNDER THREAT :
• Multilateralism is under unprecedented stress fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and a certain disenchantment with globalisation.
• At the root, of course, is the rise of China and its challenge to U.S. global hegemony.
NEED FOR INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS :
• There is a need for multilateralism backed by strong multipolarity relevant to contemporary realities.
• Most important are institutional reforms in the UN Security Council (UNSC) and at the Bretton Woods Institutions so that their governance leverages the capabilities of the major players among both the developed and developing countries
INDIA AT UN :
• India was one of the largest contributors of soldiers in the war against Germany and Turkey and became a founding member of the League of Nations even though it was a colony.
• At the end of WWII, India participated in all the three UN conferences becoming a charter member of the UN even before Independence.
• Pakistan, on the other hand, joined the UN in September 1947 on application.
WAY FORWARD :
• Earlier in the year, India was elected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for a two-year term.
• India will also host the BRICS Summit next year and G-20 Summit in 2022.
• These are openings for India in collaborating the world in critical areas that require global cooperation especially climate change, pandemics and counter-terrorism.
• India also needs to invest in the UN with increased financial contributions in line with its share of the world economy and by placing its people in key multilateral positions.
Against the backdrop of pandemic and subsequent pushback against China at the UN, it is also an opportune moment for India and a Reformed Multilateralism.