G4 Countries and UNSC Reforms

  • IASbaba
  • September 27, 2022
  • 0
International Relations
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Context: Reform of the United Nations has been a central theme of External Affairs Minister visit to the United Nations and he also met with his counterparts from Germany, Brazil and Japan under The Group of Four (G4). The group is primarily focused on U.N. Security Council (UNSC) reform, and permanent membership of the body for G4 members, among others.

In this regard, let us discuss what is G4 grouping and why they aim for urgent need of UN Reforms.

About G4 Countries:

  • The G4 nations comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.

Basis for these demands:

  • Each of these four countries have figured among the elected non-permanent members of the council since the UN’s establishment.
  • Their economic and political influence has grown significantly in the last decades, reaching a scope comparable to the permanent members (P5).

About Coffee Club/Uniting for Consensus:

  • An informal “coffee club”, comprising 40-odd members states, has been instrumental in holding back reforms to the United Nations Security Council.
  • Most members of the club are middle-sized states who oppose bigger regional powers grabbing permanent seats in the UN Security Council.
  • The prime movers of the club include Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Argentina, and Pakistan.
  • While Italy and Spain are opposed to Germany’s bid for Security Council’s permanent membership, Pakistan is opposed to India’s bid.
  • Similarly, Argentina is against Brazil’s bid and Australia opposes Japan’s.
  • Canada and South Korea are opposed to developing countries, often dependent on their aid, wielding more power than them at the UN.

Need for UN Reforms:

  • Equitable world order – There is a need for a more equitable world 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 – In the era of corona pandemic, rising protectionism, increased incidents of terrorism and the threat of climate change, multilateral system must become more resilient and responsive.
  • Desperate times call for desperate measures – There is already a precedent of expansion of G-20 in the face of 2008 Global Financial Crisis.
  • Rules of Procedure of General Assembly – For e.g., the type of majority required to pass a resolution, requirement of approval of the United Nations Security Council etc.

What reforms are required in the United Nations:

  • Methods of working of General Assembly – For e.g., before a document is adopted, each document must be translated to six languages. After that, many times the discussion veers towards the accuracy of the 6 languages. This process has many times delayed the adoption of texts in the UN
  • Membership of United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including the permanent membership and veto power – Since its inception, the UNSC has been enlarged only once. Even after that, the Permanent members of UNSC have remained fixed. This is problematic as the membership of UN has grown almost four times since its formation.
  • Veto Power – veto power has been the exclusive domain of P5 members. Many countries have put question mark on the existence of veto, which is contrary to democratic principles. Others have questioned the exclusivity of veto, which is limited to the P5 nations, as stated earlier.

Challenges to reforms and G4 demand:

  • Making a change in UN is a laborious process as the rules of procedure lean towards rigidity
  • Lack of Consensus – Although there is a general agreement towards change in the system, but different countries have different perceptions of the requirement for change.
    • For e.g. – G-4 nations demand a seat each as a permanent member, UFC asks for expansion of non-permanent seats, African union wants its representation at any cost etc.
  • Narrow political considerations – Countries view change in their own self-interest, rather than taking a wide world view.
    • For e.g. – many countries would like an expansion in the non-permanent space, so that they have an increased chance of getting elected to the membership of UN.
  • PGA’s (see inset) opposition to India’s demand – Yet another Challenge to India’s demand for recognition of India, specifically, and G-4, in general, as the permanent members of UNSC is the current PGA of UN.
    • The current PGA belongs to Turkey and is not friendly to India’s demand. In fact, he is biased towards Pakistan-led Coffee Club, which seeks to limit expansion of permanent membership of UNSC
  • Veto power of P5 – Support of all five permanent, veto-wielding members is required for expansion of UNSC. India must be cautious that it keeps on enjoying support from all P5 members, especially China, which so-far has been ambiguous towards India’s candidature as a permanent member of UNSC
  • African position – India has been generally supportive of African position where it has demanded one seat for its nominee.
    • The problem is that Africa wants to reserve the right to nominate the country by itself, rather than leaving it to the UN General Assembly. This is not acceptable to many members.
  • Lack of Records – One major issue is the lack of records of ongoing negotiations. Every time the meeting starts, the negotiations must start from scratch, as no records are maintained of previous discussions.

Way Forward:

  • Diplomatic outreach – India along with G4 needs to build upon its strengths through a diplomatic outreach to the major nations with whom it has friendly relations.
    • For e.g., India is the only nation whose candidature to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is not opposed by any veto-wielding nation. Even China, with whom India has been engaged in a border standoff, has never publicly opposed India’s stance.
  • India’s soft power – India has continuously supported Least Developing Countries (LDCs) of Africa and Small Island nations in their developmental efforts.
    • This has led to development of India’s image as a benevolent and friendly country.
  • Contributions to United Nations – India needs to keep an eye on China, which has now become the biggest contributor of funds to the United Nations.
    • Also, China has now started sending troops to United Nations peace-keeping missions, with the agenda of rebuilding its global reputation
  • Diversification – Apart from United Nations Security Council, India needs to diversify its energy towards other agencies like International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, World Health Organisation, to create a perception where it is considered as a natural leader.
    • For e.g. – Indian Prime Minister recently spoke at Economic Council (ECOSOC) to attach a sense of importance to the institution
  • Debate on India’s strategy – Reforming some institutions might require sacrifice on India’s part, for which we should have a clearly outlined strategy.
    • For e.g. – India has been a major beneficiary of World Bank loans. If we need a leadership position, we might need to give up on these loans.

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Source: The Hindu                   


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