By Vijay Darda
Addressing the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has stated a bitter but absolutely correct fact that if the United Nations does not reform itself, it is likely to become irrelevant. Sushma said: “Let me start my speech by highlighting the unique and positive role of the United Nations, but I must say in the same breath that gradually the downfall in the importance, influence, respect and values of this institution has set in.”
Sushma Swaraj has actually held up the mirror to the United Nations but the problem is that the United Nations is not interested in seeing the reality of its own image. The reason for this is that this organisation of 193 countries of the world has actually become a fiefdom of certain countries. The United Nations dances to their tune.
All the powers of the United Nations Security Council have been confined to the US, UK, Russia, France and China. The 10 temporary members and general member-countries of the United Nations have no role to play, whatsoever. The five countries of the Security Council have the right to veto. Veto is the Latin word meaning ‘I forbid’. This veto power allows them to do what they will.
When the United Nations was founded in October 1945, the Second World War had ended and the victorious nations of that time had a major role in it. Many of today’s member countries were colonies. Therefore, the five big nations put forward the provision of ‘veto’ to maintain their supremacy in future. This veto has proved to be fatal to other countries. Because of this kind of situation, the prestige of the United Nations is declining in those countries which are not heard. Simply put, the United Nations seems to be biased.
Many countries of the world feel that a great nation like India should be given a place in the UN Security Council. But due to a permanent member like China which is vehemently opposed to India being granted that privilege, India has not been able to bag that seat. Not only this, China also stands in favour of terrorist like Azhar Masood, and India cannot do anything.
This is the situation when India, which has been a temporary member of the Security Council seven times, has contributed in almost every peace campaign of the United Nations. More than 1,70,000 soldiers of Indian Armed Forces have participated in peacekeeping operations and more than 160 jawans have sacrificed their lives. Do these sacrifices have no value?
Since 1980, this demand has been consistently rising that the UN Security Council should be expanded and necessary reform should be carried out. But the partisan politics of the permanent member countries is not letting this happen. During the Gulf War, we have seen how the United States got the United Nations to dance to its tune.
Actually every permanent country only thinks about its interests. There is no concern for the interest of the world. Although the US and Russia have been advocating that India should be made a permanent member of the Security Council, their stand seems to be for public consumption only as nothing substantial has come out of it so far.
As for India, it has formed a G-4 group with Germany, Brazil and Japan, and G-4 is now demanding membership in the Security Council. On the other hand, France wants South Africa to get membership. At the same time, a group of the African countries called C-10 is demanding permanent membership to anyone of African countries. The claims of African countries also have substance because 75 per cent of the Security Council work is going on in the African continent.
At the 73rd conference, Sushma Swaraj has really outlined the future of the United Nations. If such a major organisation does not bring transparency in its functioning and the world does not experience this change, these countries will gradually start defying the United Nations. After all, how long will anyone tolerate discrimination?
In broad terms, India has warned the United Nations by expressing its feelings. Now it depends on the United Nations whether it wants to retain its importance or only keep its identity as a fiefdom of certain countries. It goes without saying that unless the United Nations reforms itself, tomorrow will not be bright for it. Certainly, the whole world will suffer the consequences of this kind of ineffective organisation because the United Nations was formed with great hopes of peace and development. These expectations must be fulfilled.
Vijay Darda has been the chief visionary and driving force behind Lokmat, a leading multi-platform media company. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award for excellence in journalism in 1990-91.
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