UNSC Reforms

UNSC Reforms

This article deals with ‘UNSC Reforms – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here


UN  reform  is  a  long  drawn  process  which  encompasses  five  key  issues:

  1. Categories  of  membership
  2. Question of  the veto  held  by  the  five  Permanent  Members
  3. Regional  representation
  4. Size  of  an  enlarged  Council  and  its working  methods
  5. Security  Council-General  Assembly  relationship. 

Inclusion  of  new  members  is  part  of this reform  process.


Any  reform  of the  Security  Council would  require

        • Agreement of at  least  2/3 of  UN member  states
        • Agreement of  all the  Permanent  Members of  the UNSC  enjoying  the  veto  right.



Why UNSC Reforms are needed?

  • UNSC represents  post WWII realities . After 7 decades, the realities of world dynamics have changed a lot


  • In economic sphere , bodies like NDB , AIIB etc came up as Bretton Woods organisations (WB & IMF)   representing post WWII realities failed to accommodate legitimate interests of new economic powers eg India, Brazil, China etc.  If similar thing happened in case of UN , that will be detrimental to world peace. 


  • UNSC isn’t  representative enough
        • No permanent member from Africa despite 75% of UN work focusses on Africa
        • No islamic nation


  • Not responsive to new issues that are emerging like terrorism & climate change .


  • Also parties are going to alternate forums or try to adjust other powers than P5 to reach at consensus. Eg to deal with Iran P5+1 platform was made


  • It has failed to tackle the recent crisis of Syria, Gaza and Ukraine. Need to make it efficient, effective, and credible and a legitimate body.


  • Numbers of members since formation of UN has increased from 51 to 193 but that is not reflected in UNSC .


Various Proposals for UNSC Reforms

  • Economically strong states along with one from Africa should get permanent seats
  • This proposal has support of many nations

Dealt in detail below.


African Union
  • Increasing the number of both permanent & non-permanent members where 2 permanent & 5 non-permanent members from Africa should be included


United for Consensus (UfC)
  • Aka Coffee Club
  • Mainly created to counter the proposals of G-4 .
  • 40 members like Italy (against Germany) , Pakistan (against India), Columbia(against Brazil) , S Korea (Japan) , Nigeria & Egypt (against SA)  etc
  • They propose
        • Enhancement of non permanent members to be increased from 10 to 20 members.
        • Later they proposed idea of regional representation rather than national representation. This has benefit of giving representation to bigger body (but not all the regions have strong regional organisations eg Asia .


Other suggestions

  • Member states that have demonstrated credibility and capacity to shoulder the responsibilities of the principal UN organ should have a presence in form of “semi-permanent” seats with term of  six-eight years 


  • Veto Reforms:  There shouldn’t be any Veto power.


Variants of the veto provision have been suggested, such as the requirement of double veto, i.e. at least two permanent members must exercise veto for it to be valid.

G4 and its issues

  • Comprises of  Brazil, Germany, India & Japan . These 4 countries support each other’s bids for permanent seats on UNSC
  • The G4’s primary aim is the permanent member seats on the Security Council.


Claims of different nations of G4

  • 3rd largest contributor to UN funding
  • Several times elected to Security Council
  • Biggest economy in Europe
  • UK & France support Germany’s claim
  • But Italy & Spain which are part of UfC oppose Germany
  • Largest country in Latin America in terms of population, territory & economy
  • It has been elected to Security Council many times
  • 10th largest contributor to UN funding
  • UK, Russia & France support
  • But Mexico & Argentina oppose due to regional dynamics
  • 2nd largest contributor to UN budget
  • One of the largest contributor to Official Development Assistance
  • Many times elected to Security Council
  • US, UK , France & Russia supports
  • China (having veto) opposed to it

India & Permanent  Membership ?

India’s Claim

  • Biggest  democracy  in the  world  &  represent 1/6th of humanity
  • Second-largest and one of the largest constant contributors of troops to United Nations peacekeeping
  • It   frequently  serves  as  a  non-permanent  (rotational)  member (7 times till now )
  • It  has  the support  of  some  major  players  (France,  Russia,  United  Kingdom,  and  United  States )
  • It is also the world’s7th largest economy by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity.
  • India maintains the world’s third largest active armed force and is a nuclear weapon state but at the same time known for her peaceful credentials
  • It  is  part  of  an  otherwise  underrepresented  region,  with  large  unrepresented  religions  (Hinduism  and Islam).



  • Would be very difficult to make P5 members to share their power with others . They would like to maintain status quo .
  • Very difficult to garner support of 2/3rd members
  • United for Consensus bitterly oppose these reforms
  • India’s position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its border “disputes” with Pakistan and China
  • Asia already has representation in form of China but Africa is not represented by any nation. Along with that G-4 has two Asian nations which if accepted will take Asian number to 3 .



Latest Development : India is in favour of expansion of Permanent Members without Veto Powers since Permanent Members don’t want to share Veto Power with any other power



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