UN Security Council and India


This post is written by Pragya Yadav, a third-year law student at IIMT, IP University, Delhi.


The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the organs of the United Nations. The primary objective of the Security Council is to maintain International Peace and security. There are a total of 15 members in the Security Council, 5 of which are permanent members and the other 10 members are non-permanent members. The non-permanent members are only members of the Security Council for a duration of 2 years.


Initially, the UN Security Council only consisted of 11 members, out of which 5 were the permanent members (the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) and other 6 nations were the non-permanent members. The non-permanent members were elected by the UN General Assembly for the duration of 2 years.

This however changed with the amendment to the UN Charter in 1965 for the increase in membership in Security Council from 11 members to 15 members. The Republic of China, one of the 5 permanent members of the UNSC, was replaced by the People’s Republic of China in 1971 and the Soviet Union was also succeeded by the Russian Federation in 1991 in the Security Council.

The non-permanent members in UNSC are chosen to attain equal representation among the geographical regions. Among the 10 non-permanent members, 5 members are elected from Africa or Asia, one from Eastern Europe, two from Latin America and two from Eastern Europe or other areas. 5 non-permanent members of the Security Council are elected each year and five non-permanent members retire each year. The Presidency in the UN Security Council is held by each member for the duration of one month.

Even then the structure of the Security Council has been a disputable matter, especially after the end of the Cold War. It has been argued that the 5 permanent members in the UNSC reflect the power structure which was in existence before World War II when substantial parts of the World were under colonial rule.

There have also been constant demands made by the important non-permanent members of the UNSC (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan) to obtain permanent membership. One of the proposals put forward by these nations was to increase the number of permanent members in the UNSC by adding 6 new members. These 6 new membership seats would include one seat each for Brazil, Germany, India and Japan; and two seats for Africa.


All the members in the Security Council are granted one vote. Decisions on the Procedural matters are made with the agreement of at least nine of the members of the Security Council. On the issues relating to that of substantive nature at least nine members have to provide their affirmative, including the five permanent members holding the veto powers. The question as to which matters will come under Procedural matters and which will be considered substantive is in itself a substantive matter. In order to function continuously, the representatives of each member are required to be present at all times at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

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India has been elected as the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the years 1950—1951, 1967—1968, 1972—1973, 1977—1978, 1984—1985, 1991—1992 and 2011—2012. If India is elected as a non-permanent member in 2020 then this will be the nation’s 8th time being a member of the UNSC and this two-year term will start from January 2021.

Being the sole contender for the Asia-Pacific seat, India is looking at an assured win for the non-permanent member this year. The election of 2021-22 will be a very critical time for India as the Nation has been effortlessly working to reform the Security Council and gain a permanent membership at the UNSC.

The contenders for the elections being held on June 17, 2020, include Canada, Ireland and Norway for the two seats in Western Europe and other countries; Mexico as the only candidate for the seat in Latin America and Caribbean category; Kenya and Djibouti as the contenders for the seat in the Africa category; and India as the sole contender for the seat in Asia-Pacific category.

The Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar launched a brochure at an even which introduced India’s priorities of the campaign to win the seat at the UN Security Council.

“Ten years since we were last elected to the Security Council, we are facing four very different challenges to international peace and security – the normal process of international governance has been at an increasing strain as frictions have increased, traditional and non-traditional security challenges continue to grow unchecked — terrorism is the most egregious of such examples,” Jaishankar said.

“Global institutions remain unreformed and under representative, they are therefore less able to deliver, the Covid-19 pandemic and its grave economic repercussions will test the world like never before,” he said.

The Minister of External Affairs further stated that India will be following the “five S’s” set out by the Prime Minister. These “five S’s” include Samman (Respect), Samvad (Dialogue), Sahyog (cooperation), and Shanti (Peace) to create conditions for International Samriddhi (prosperity).

The main objective during this tenure, if India were to be elected as the member of the UN Security Council, will be to achieve N.O.R.M.S — a New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.



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