UN Reforms


    In News

    • It has been criticised that Conflicts like those in Sudan, Syria, Myanmar go largely unchecked at the United Nations.

    UN Reforms

    • Demand of reform:
      • Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) encompasses five key issues: 
        • Categories of membership, 
        • The question of the veto held by the five permanent members, 
        • Regional representation, 
        • The size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and 
        • The Security Council-General Assembly relationship. 
    • Why?
      • Changing world order:
        • In the 77-year-old history of the UN, the composition of the Security Council has been altered only once.
          • I.e., In 1963 when the General Assembly decided to expand the Council from 11 to 15 members, with the addition of four non-permanent seats.
        • Since then, the world has changed. The geopolitical relations in the world have altered, the economic responsibilities in the world in countries have also changed.
      • Equitable World Order: 
        • There is a need for a more equitable world in order to uphold the principles of democracy at the global level.
      • Inclusivity: 
        • Developing countries like the African countries, need to be made stakeholders in the multilateral institutions and involved in the decision-making process.
      • Mitigation of New Threats: 
        • With rising protectionism, increased incidents of terrorism and the threat of climate change, the multilateral system must become more resilient and responsive.
    • How?
      • Agreement of members:
        • Any reform of the Security Council would require the agreement of at least two-thirds of UN member states in a vote in the General Assembly and must be ratified by two-thirds of Member States. 
        • All of the permanent members of the UNSC (which have veto rights) must also agree.
      • Expansion:
        • The expansion of the Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories, as well as reform in its working methods, is indispensable to making this body more representative, legitimate and effective.


    • Unchecked conflicts:
      • It has been criticised that Conflicts like those in Sudan, Syria, Myanmar go largely unchecked at the UN.
      • Some countries and non-state actors benefit from the conflict economy. They launder money, sell arms, supply fuel and exploit natural resources.
      • Whereas in the past the UN has played an important role in international diplomacy over the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and the Middle East.
    • Unable to discharge basic functions: 
      • The Security Council cannot discharge its basic function as one of the permanent members of the Security Council attacked its neighbour. 
      • The Security Council should be the body to take action against the aggression. But because of the veto power, the Security Council cannot act.
      • The recent example being Russia’s:
        • Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN, attacked Ukraine in February 2022. 
        • Russia has vetoed UNSC resolutions on Ukraine. 
        • Russia also voted against a resolution in the UNGA which called on countries not to recognise the four regions of Ukraine that Russia has claimed.


    • Lack of Political Will: 
      • Although there is a general agreement towards change in the system, different countries have different perceptions of the requirement for change. 
    • Coffee Club: 
      • It is an informal group comprising 40-odd member states, mostly middle-sized states who oppose bigger regional powers grabbing permanent seats, has been instrumental in holding back reforms to the United Nations Security Council over the past six years.
    • Chinese Opposition: 
      • China being a permanent member blocks the growth of India becoming a Permanent Member.
    • Operationalization of the reforms:
      • The challenge is also regarding how to operationalize these reforms. 
      • The UN is structured in such a way that the decision-making process is distributed among a wide range of countries and constituencies with often competing and contradictory views and interests. 
        • Russia and China, for example, did not attend the previous UN meeting on reforms.

    Way ahead

    • Some of the UN’s specialized agencies like Unicef and UNHCR do an admirable job under exacting circumstances when no one else will do it. 
      • They need to be further strengthened.
    • India has suggested that the UN reforms need to be “broad-based and all-encompassing” and the changes should not be restricted to its secretariat only. 


    • The G4 nations, comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan, are four countries that support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council
    • Unlike the G7, where the common denominator is the economy and long-term political motives, the G4’s primary aim is the permanent member seats on the Security Council
    • Each of these four countries have figured among the elected non-permanent members of the council since the UN’s establishment. 

    What makes India a potential candidate for UNSC membership?

    • Role in international affairs: 
      • The recent global supply chain disruption, pandemic, climate change, renewable energy and now the incipient food issue, the security situation in some parts of the world- all desire & require India to play a larger role in international affairs and cooperation.
    • Justified Demand: India makes a number of claims to justify its demand. 
      • Population and democracy:
        • India has the world’s second-largest population and is the world’s largest liberal democracy. 
      • Economy:
        • It is also the world’s fifth largest economy and third largest in terms of purchasing power parity as of 2020. 
      • Peacekeeping troops:
        • India is the largest contributor of troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions. 
          • India has contributed more than 180,000 troops, the largest number from any country, participated in more than 43 missions and 156 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in UN missions.


    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] In the past the UN has played an important role in international diplomacy but in recent years minor conflicts go largely unchecked at the UN. Examine.