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India And The UN: What Is The Ongoing Rift In This Global Partnership?

India and UN

Power Shift On Global Stage

May 06, 2024

India's relationship with the United Nations (UN) is a story of enduring commitment and significant contributions. As a founding member, India has played a vital role in shaping the organization's goals and activities since its inception in 1945.

This blog post dives into the current dynamics between India and the UN, addressing the misconception that India is creating its own "global team." Instead, we'll explore India's growing influence within the UN and its ongoing collaboration for a more equitable and effective global order.

India's foreign policy prioritizes multilateralism, the belief that international issues can be best addressed through cooperation and dialogue between nations. The UN, with its emphasis on collective action, serves as a natural platform for India to advance its interests and promote global good.


A Strong Foundation: India's Commitment to the UN

India's engagement with the UN is multifaceted. Here are some key aspects:

Active Participation: India is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a record eight terms, most recently serving in 2021-2022. It actively participates in UN peacekeeping missions and contributes troops, making it a major contributor to global security efforts.


India and UN


Advocacy for Reform: India believes the UN Security Council needs reform to reflect the realities of the 21st century. It aspires to a permanent seat on the Council, along with other developing nations like Brazil, Germany, Japan, and South Africa (known as the G4).

Championing Development Goals: India is heavily invested in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It works closely with UN agencies to address poverty, hunger, education, and climate change within its borders, while also advocating for a global commitment to these goals.


India has a distinguished history as a major contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. With over 253,000 personnel deployed in 49 UN missions – the highest of any country – India has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to maintaining global peace and security.


Active Participation Across UN Bodies

India is actively involved in all UN specialized agencies and programs. This engagement allows India to address critical issues like poverty eradication, sustainable development, climate change, and human rights. India has also held leadership positions in various UN bodies, including the Security Council (eight terms as a non-permanent member) and the Human Rights Council.


India and UN


Advocacy for Reform: Seeking a Permanent Seat

India believes the UN Security Council, the most powerful UN body, needs reform to reflect the realities of the 21st century. As part of the G4 group (along with Brazil, Germany, and Japan), India aspires to a permanent seat on the Security Council. This reflects India's desire for a greater say in shaping global security agendas.


South-South Cooperation: A Key Focus

India champions South-South cooperation, a framework for collaboration between developing countries. Through the UN, India shares its development experiences and technical expertise with other developing nations. This fosters knowledge exchange and strengthens global solidarity.


Deeper Dive into Areas of Tension Between India and the UN

Despite its strong partnership with the UN, India faces challenges.

1. UN Security Council Reform and India’s Quest for Global Leadership

India has been actively pursuing a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC). The recently concluded G-20 Summit in New Delhi highlighted India’s upward trajectory in its quest for global leadership. The Delhi Declaration issued at the end of the summit emphasized several priorities, including the need for UNSC reforms1. Prominent leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, the French president, the African Union president, the U.K. prime minister, and Turkey’s president, have endorsed India’s inclusion as a permanent UNSC member. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also emphasized the urgency of UNSC reforms, recognizing that the current composition of the Security Council no longer reflects today’s world

Challenges: There's no consensus on how to expand the council or who the new members should be. Veto power for new members is another contentious issue.



India and Un

2. Russia-Ukraine Conflict:

India's Stance: India has strong ties with both Russia and Ukraine. It advocates for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the conflict. This neutrality is seen by some as undermining the UN's push for condemnation of Russia.

Impact: India's large population and economic weight make its stance on the conflict significant. This disagreement highlights the limitations of the UN's power when powerful member states have differing viewpoints.


3. Human Rights Concerns:

India's Position: India has been critical of the UN's human rights record, particularly reports on Kashmir and internal security measures. It argues that the UN should be more sensitive to national sovereignty concerns.

UN's Perspective: The UN emphasizes the importance of holding all member states accountable for human rights.


4. India-Canada Relations

In September 2023, Indian and Canadian diplomats didn’t directly address their countries’ row over the killing of a Sikh separatist leader, but they obliquely underscored some key talking points as they addressed world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly.

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that the world must not “countenance that political convenience determines responses to terrorism, extremism, and violence.” Canadian U.N. Ambassador Robert Rae, by turn, insisted that “we cannot bend the rules of state-to-state relations for political expediency.”


India and UN

Relations between the two countries frayed after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that India may have been involved in the June killing of a Canadian citizen in a Vancouver suburb. Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the slaying of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 451.


In this delicate situation, both India and Canada tread carefully, emphasizing the need for principled responses while avoiding direct confrontation. The dispute highlights the complexities of state relations and the challenges faced by the international community in addressing terrorism and violence.


Additional Areas to Consider:

Peacekeeping Missions: India is a major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions, but there have been disagreements about effectiveness and reform of these missions.

Development Agenda: India plays a key role in shaping the UN's development agenda, focusing on issues like poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

The relationship between India and the UN is complex. While there are areas of tension, India remains a significant player within the organization.  Understanding these tensions can help you form a more nuanced view of the UN's role in the world today.


India and UN



The Road Ahead: A More Collaborative Future

The future of India and UN relations is likely to see continued collaboration with a focus on:

• UN Reform: India is likely to remain a vocal advocate for reforms that make the UN more representative and efficient in addressing contemporary challenges.

• Focus on Development: Collaboration on achieving the SDGs will be a key area of focus, with India playing a leading role in sharing its experiences and expertise with other developing nations.

• Global Security: India's contributions to peacekeeping missions and its growing military power are likely to lead to a more prominent role in international security discussions.

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