It is considered in the best interest of every nation state to seek a more democratic and effective mechanism for engaging in international peace and security through reforms in United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The contours of international peace as well as human security increasingly demand inclusiveness and equal representation – no power politics or realpolitik. Pakistan is not against expansion of permanent membership of the UNSC as part of the reforms agenda, since it also wants to become a permanent part of it. The difference or critique comes when permanency is given unfairly. The facts are that the UNSC is currently composed of five permanent members (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China) and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.
For a more democratic, effective and responsive UNSC, Pakistan has remained unvarying in its stance, which also reflects the wider interest for the comity of nations. Pakistan does not advocate the ‘criteria-based approach.’ The approach qualifies members based on certain qualities that once again represents power politics like size of the economy of a state, its population bulge, its military might, as well as its commitments to the values of human rights and the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. Based on such an approach, the previous two presidents of the US, Obama and Bush, were vouching for India to be included in the UNSC as a permanent member. Whereas, Pakistan presented a counter argument, exposing and explaining Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir where the state is curtailing the basic human rights of Kashmiris.
Therefore, Pakistan supports the General Assembly’s decision 62/557 to hold inter-governmental negotiations on the reforms agenda, which would be based on democratic values, inclusiveness, equal representation, transparency and accountability.
The same Kashmir quagmire and other such humanitarian issues have seen the wrath of veto power and its misuse by the permanent members. Russia has used its veto many times against Kashmir and the US has misused the same power against the issue of Palestine. Perhaps, the abuse of veto power was a practice of the Cold War era to settle the scores between two contesting powers and their allies.
In response to the criteria-based approach put forth by the US, Pakistan and other like-minded states are part of a group called ‘Uniting for Consensus’ (UfC). The latter talks about feasible reforms to be undertaken by the UNSC in order to expand, based on consensus among the UN members. Therefore, Pakistan supports the General Assembly’s decision 62/557 to hold inter-governmental negotiations on the reforms agenda, which would be based on democratic values, inclusiveness, equal representation, transparency and accountability. The five key areas of reforms agenda are: categories of membership, the question of veto, size and working methods, regional representation and relationship between the Security Council and General Assembly. To uphold the democratic values, Pakistan has moved one step further by opposing the G4 (Germany, Brazil, Japan and India) group’s quest for their individual memberships, which is again tantamount to biasness towards other states.
Based on equal representation, Pakistan while being part of the UfC group recognises the African continent case to be a stronger one, as Africa, as a region, has the right to become a permanent member of the UNSC for redressing the injustice it has underwent in the history. This also shows the UfC’s approach based on region and continents gaining priority for the permanent membership. Although, a seat for a region went in contradiction to the initial stance of Pakistan, yet the state evolved its ideology on priority setting of continents.
If we see at the border canvas, internationally, there is an increasing trend of a chaotic expansion of right-wing populist politics and ultra-nationalistic political parties stretching from North Korea to Kashmir and Palestine to Venezuela.
In the backdrop of the recent development in the 21st century in general, peace at regional and international levels is being threatened. At regional level, particularly in South Asia, occupied Kashmir is at stake after the scrapping of Article 370 and 35-A. Such a scheme that was sponsored by the Indian state and proposed by the proponents of Hindutva ideology in India, raise the alarm on Obama and Bush’s supporting for India’s membership in the UNSC. If we see at the border canvas, internationally, there is an increasing trend of a chaotic expansion of right-wing populist politics and ultra-nationalistic political parties stretching from North Korea to Kashmir and Palestine to Venezuela. Along with this, are the competing strategies of different global players in Asia Pacific and their naval power projection in the Indian Ocean – all this depicts a gloomy picture of international politics and weakness of the international system.
No other time can be considered critical as now, for the reforms agenda to be corrected under the auspices of the UNSC. At this time, the UfC group holds more clout and recognition as compared to the criteria-based approach adopted by the US. Although the member states of the said group are nine in number as yet, but European members like Italy, Spain and Turkey that come under Eurasian region, all were international powers of their time. Nonetheless, their alignment with UfC elucidates the fact that not only have they witnessed the horrors of world wars and learned lessons from them, they are also cognizant of the actual shortcomings of the UNSC and its democratisation. If the US approach is adopted, it would add more instability across the geopolitical landscape since the US still considers itself a hegemonic power and executes its power projection based on realism and power politics while the multipolar world that is emerging is giving way to politics of developments and win-win cooperation.
Pakistan can add to international values and norms by constantly highlighting the shortcomings and existing weaknesses, and subsequently increasing pressure over the international community for taking actions under the international law. The simple fact is, the more the value is added upon an issue/conflict in the international community, the more it will render influence for that state-in-conflict for maintaining international peace and security.
Syed Ali Hadi is currently pursuing his MPhil in Strategic Studies from National Defence University, Islamabad. He is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research.