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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world


Voting for the Veto: India in a reformed UN

[Cover of Voting for the Veto: India in a reformed UN]

Shairi Mathur

September 2005

Download Voting for the Veto (170 kilobyte PDF)

The case for India's permanent seat in the Security Council is as compelling as it is simple. India is the world's largest democracy, soon to be the world's most populous country, and home to over 15 per cent of the world's population; it possesses nuclear weapons and strategic missiles; it has at various times taken a global leadership role, not least in its co-founding of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1955; and as an early champion of the concept of 'peaceful co-existence' between the communist bloc and the free world, India has been a leading advocate of 'peaceful' foreign policies and non-aggression. In 2005, the World Bank ranked India as having the fourth biggest GDP in the world (in terms of purchasing power parity), and tenth biggest (in terms of the conventional GDP measure). India has taken part in more than 30 UN peacekeeping operations. By any sensible measure of 'equity', the reform of the Security Council in 2005 should result in India's elevation to the Security Council with the same powers as China and the USA.

India has recently dropped its insistence on acquiring veto power as part of its bid for a permanent seat on the Council. Yet the role of the veto is central to the founding purposes of the Security Council. Even though the Indian government may have suspended its interest in the veto power for now, that is not sufficient reason for the rest of the world to ignore the question. The outcome of various package deals and votes in September 2005 will not alter the fundamentals of India's 'claim' to veto power. Therefore, and notwithstanding the 'anachronistic character' of the veto, this pamphlet argues that it is in the best interests of all UN member states to ensure that a peaceable, politically developed and economically strong India has not only a permanent seat on the Security Council but also veto power.