March 2008

Vol 7 - No. 9
 

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Letter from U.S.A.  | March 2008

 


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   Support for a Permanent Security Council Seat for India

 

Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-9), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in an editorial in Washington Times on February 20, has given support for India's inclusion as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.  Last year, Congressman Bilirakis introduced H. Res. 638 which expresses the House of Representatives' desire that the UN should amend Article 23 of the Charter to establish India as a permanent member of the Security Council.

"The Allies created the U.N. Security Council at the end of World War II and charged it with maintaining international peace and security. Five nations were granted permanent membership at a time when the Soviet Union occupied half of Europe, China was the most powerful Asian country and Great Britain and France controlled worldwide empires... 

"India is an important ally of the United States and the world community. Their enormous role in mediating and contributing to global peacekeeping missions combined with their ever-evolving economic prowess and democratic institutions, makes them a natural fit as a permanent member of the Security Council," says Congressman Bilirakis.

"This issue is very significant in the eyes of the Indian-American community as grassroots efforts in the past have shown us.  A previous USINPAC online petition drive in support of India gaining a permanent seat on the Security Council resulted in over 50,000 signatures.  The importance of and support for this issue, however, goes well beyond Indian-Americans and is really a fundamental American foreign policy and global concern of first importance, and we applaud Congressman Bilirakis' key leadership on this critical issue," says Mr. Sanjay Puri, Chairman of the U.S.-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC).

"The highly respected USINPAC is an effective voice for the interests of the Indian Diaspora here in the United States," says Congressman Bilirakis.  "They have long pointed out the benefits of reforming the UN by realigning the Security Council to reflect today's global landscape, particularly with respect to the one-billion strong democracy of India."

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11), Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, is a co-sponsor of H. Res. 638.  "The burgeoning strategic partnership between the Great Democracies of the United States and India will be the transformational Twenty-First Century alliance of free peoples," says Congressman McCotter.  "This is the compelling reason India must become a voting member of the UN Security Council; and why the hard work of our Indian-American community to achieve this critical goal through USINPAC is of immense importance to the shared destinies of both nations and all the world." 

In "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America" released in September 2002, President Bush said: "The United States has undertaken a transformation in its bilateral relationship with India based on a conviction that U.S. interests require a strong relationship with India. We are the two largest democracies, committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is moving toward greater economic freedom as well. We have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. Finally, we share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia". This statement was a reflection of the fact that India was the first country in the world to offer full use of its military bases to destroy the Taleban and Al Qaeda.

Today, when several permanent members of the UN Security council are placing political expediency over the long-term credibility of the United Nations, India remains a friend of the United States. This has not gone unnoticed by The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthmammer, who have both written columns extolling the world community to admit India as a permanent member of the Council.  

Tom Friedman wrote, "Why replace France with India (in the Council)? Because India is the world's biggest democracy, the world's largest Hindu nation and the world's second-largest Muslim nation, and, quite frankly, India is just so much more serious than France these days".  (The New York Times February 9, 2003 Vote France Off the Island)

Charles Krauthammer wrote, "First, as soon as the dust settles in Iraq, we should push for an expansion of the Security Council - with India and Japan as new permanent members - to dilute France's disproportionate and anachronistic influence." ( The Washington Post February 28, 2003 The absurdity of the U.N. Security Council)

While Britain, France, Russia and many other countries fully support India’s admission to the Council as a permanent member, the U.S. has not yet endorsed India’s request (President Clinton during his visit to India as President indicated that the U.S. would seriously considers supporting India’s claim). There is no question that the support of the U.S. would be necessary for India’s admission as a permanent member. Since India has a very strong case for admission as a permanent member, the lack of support from the U.S. thus far is puzzling at best.  

There are compelling reasons to consider India’s appointment as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.  

At the present time, the Council does not fully represent the world population, such as developing countries, and is anachronistic in character. This is so despite the fact that more than 150 countries endorsed, at the UN Millennium Summit, the need for a reformed council that was more representative. This has in the past and continues to hinder the Council’s ability to tackle threats to international peace and security. In 1965, the membership of the Council was expanded from 11 to 15. There was no change in the number of permanent members. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Member States of the UN and considerable change in composition of the General Assembly. The Council's representation too must change to reflect the growth of the UN.

India is well qualified by any objective criteria for permanent membership of the Council. Some of the reasons the U.S. should whole-heartedly to support appointment of Indian as a permanent member include:

India has more than a billion people, representing about one sixth the population of the whole world, and it is the largest functional and stable democracy in the world. It is a model for the third and post communist worlds.

India’s gross domestic product is the 5th highest in the world. It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world as a result of liberalization of trade policies in the last decade.

India, with its ancient civilization, rich heritage, deep rooted democratic system and growing economic potential has the credentials to champion the cause of the developing nations which need proper representation in the Council.

India had been one of the few countries, which had participated, in all the military operations the Council had undertaken thus far. Presently, India is ranked as the second largest troop contributor to the UN. It shows strong commitment to the UN Charter, international leadership and contribution to the world peace.

India had been the bulwark of the Non-Alignment Movement during the cold war years and continues to be a major force in that sphere.

India is and will be a major player of the world in helping the UN’s efforts to eliminate nuclear arms from the face of earth.

India is strategically situated in the Asian continent.

India is potent military power, and the Indian armed forces are considered one of the most disciplined in the world. This will become important to the United Nations and Security Council, as it will be called upon to play a major in role in resolving future conflicts.

In summary, the Council’s expansion is essential to make it more representative. The fact that India with a population over a billion, representing about one sixth of the whole world, not being a permanent member of the Council, seriously undermines the representative nature of the Council. Indeed, as the world’s largest democracy, ancient civilization, a rapidly growing economic power and a major contributor to peacekeeping operations, India has a natural claim to a permanent seat in the Council.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, introduced legislation on February 27, 2003, supporting a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for India.

Pallone said his legislation, a "Sense of the Congress," allows the U.S. House of Representatives to go on record in supporting India's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

"I believe it is morally wrong to ignore the voice of over one billion Indian people in security decision-making that affects them, and the rest of the world," Pallone said. "India's location, its large population, its history of participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations, and its leadership in the non-alignment movement all justify its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

"All five members of the UN Security Council must realize that having India as a permanent security council member will give the South Asia region a stabilizing force, helping peace efforts in Central Asia and all parts of our increasingly connected world," Pallone continued.

Pallone said that since September 11, India has been dedicated to eradicating terrorism not only within its own country, but also throughout the world. India was one of the first nations to say the United States military could use its strategically placed land during its fight against terrorism.

The New Jersey congressman believes the United States should follow the lead of one of its most important allies and endorse a permanent seat for India in the United Nations Security Council. Last year, British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott informed his Indian counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, that the United Kingdom backed India's candidacy to the Council. Britain joins France and Russia in supporting India's permanent inclusion in the Security Council.

"It is time for this Congress and the Bush Administration to recognize the importance India plays in the region and the world and support its bid for a permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council," Pallone concluded.

 

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