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February 13, 2016

Security Council Reforms: Chasing up a mirage of veto power ?

Filed under: India,World — Geekay @ 4:11 am
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Over the years , the Veto power has become a status symbol. Not been able to have it has become a problem and given rise to frustration unnecessarily for certain countries. The G4 nations comprising BrazilGermanyIndia, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. Unlike the G7, where the common denominator is the economy and long-term political motives, the G4’s primary aim is the permanent member seats on the Security Council.

G4Summit2015

Security council ‘s permanent membership provides veto power. The veto power enables all the countries not to bypass the voice of the veto powered country exercising its veto on any vote. When Veto powers were given after second world war,  UK, France and   China also got vetoes. Though Veto should have been  denied to  all these three as France had somehow re-emerged as an independent country post its capture in the war. Let alone be the big power in its own right. The argument to give veto power to UK was also marginal, specially, neither after war, it was left as a significant big power militarily, nor it was economically strong any more. Similarly, like France and UK, China also should not have been given any veto power  as it too was a dirt poor country and not militarily strong at all. The veto power given to China, in fact ended up going to Taiwan soon as the republic of China whom veto power was given got driven out from its own country. So, one wonders what justification was there to hand over Veto power to  a country who was inherently so week that  it could not manage its own fate. Mainland communist China got Veto in ’71 when Taiwan ‘s veto was handed over to it but by then Communist block had got divided . Perhaps, it would have been better if at the time of UN formation there should have been created only two veto wielding powers  – USA and Soviet Union rather than 5. It should have been called the group veto powers  – Capitalist block veto, Communist block veto as for all purposes the veto exercising history went according to the block’s desires .

But, as no body surrenders power once they have it, so even though the nation (UK and France) may no longer be the front runners either in military power or economy, but they  will still want to hold onto their permanent membership and Veto Power forever even if they become more and more integrated or subsumed into NATO or EU. Being part of these groups will make them irrelevant as it will not allow them any freedom to pursue their own independent line to exercise veto. They can  only toe a group line on any significant international issue. So, here again, it makes one wonder why veto power should only be given to states and not to the group when for all purposes the veto is exercised by states as per the group ‘s dictates.

Now, Russia and China are both power houses in military and economy respectively and they are no longer part of  one block. Though, back again now on most critical occasions either they act in unison or ignore the situation so they should continue to hold onto their individual veto power as they have not forged a military alliance. Even though both Germany and Japan are also economically very -2 important at present but as both are not free to pursue their own independent line, so giving them a  veto power will be a waste.

The other significant country is India which has been rising significantly. It stands at 7th position GDP wise in 2015 and 3rd on PPP basis as can be seen here in this chart –

GDP-PPP

It also is not having any military alliance and  for all purposes, it pursues independent foreign policy. So, it is far more deserving than other candidates. There are many negative things about security council permanent position. First of all, it brings extra responsibility to deal with more and more international issues as the issues are becoming day by day more of global nature needing global solutions. Since, India has great number of issues at home to deal with,  perhaps it should give up pursuing to seek Veto Power for now.

The Security Council membership will bring the need of providing for extra funding too to UN Budget. India contributes just 0.5% to say 10% by Japan and little over 5% by China. This is how the funding situation was in 2013 –

Member state Contribution
(% of UN budget)
 United States

22.000

 Japan

10.833

 Germany

7.141

 France

5.593

 United Kingdom

5.179

 China

5.148

But the most important issue will be if India who usually does not take any stand at all on any issue, will have to start taking a stand after getting the veto power. But taking a stand means preparing to ruin your relationships as independent middle line stand will not be possible any more. Perhaps,  India is besotted to covet the Veto power for enhancing its reputation as a significant power otherwise benefits are not there for chasing it.

Being a non-aligned group’s leading voice in cold war era, when its voice was equi-distant on all international issues in the beginning of non-aligned movement and gradually fully become part and parcel of a pseudo member voice of Communist block led by Soviet Union. So, it chose either not to criticise Soviet Union, or criticise much too late otherwise only privately. This happened  when Communists occupation went into Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan. But, American, Britain/France interventions were criticised far more vocally as it happened in Cuba, other parts of Latin America or Suez Canal occupation etc. Though, India now has drawn closer to USA but it has not abandoned Russia entirely. It is closer to both Iran and Israel as well as Saudi Arabia. It is also close to Japan but chances of it voting against China in Security Council are remote as  China has become its biggest trading partner. So, what role a veto given to India will bring to UN. One can surmise it will bring nothing at all. When Russia is involved anywhere, India offers only a muted reaction as it did in Syria, Ukraine, Crimea or Georgia. It remained taciturn when Turkey downed Russian plane because India also have somewhat OK relations with Turkey, a NATO country. In Middle east, both Palestine and Israel are close to India, so for all purposes being too close will prevent it to take any stand on Palestine. It did not act closer home too when Sri Lanka was exterminating Tamils in its north. The  fear was of Sri Lanka falling into the hands of China and Pakistan. It did  not ask or support demand for UN probe initially into the killing of Tamils while UK and west asked  UN team to investigate. It did not upset the Myanmar too by criticising or intervening when it was clear the Buddhists with the support of Myanmar military were burning down the houses of Rohingya Muslims, killing them or putting them adrift in boats with some food. Again the fear was same of losing the Myanmar to China. Then Maldives exploded, its elected president is incarcerated and the new one has taken control. India tried to convey its support for the incarcerated president but Maldives simply chose to ignore India’s stand. Even though, China is so far out in pacific but India chose  not  to press Maldives too for the fear of China getting a toehold in Maldives, which any way China still managed to get. So, when India can not decide on foreign policy issues with either clarity or strong authority at closer home or in distant lands, what point is there to covet a veto power. However, Pakistan and China oppose India to have Veto Power as if India will go into Pakistan straight away after getting the Veto power to free Baluchistan’s trapped people. The fact is India should not get the veto power for its own sake as until it becomes economically significant and able to resolve its internal problems, it will not push its stand on any issue anywhere strongly outside India. To push your stand one will need a far significant economy, content citizens  and a big military might behind and not merely the veto power.  Moreover, by having veto power, the focus would quickly move to international diplomacy from internally focussed development of the country. So rather than rising fast, it will lose its focus of growing rapidly. There will surely come a time when India will be a Veto Power inevitably but that time is still years away, perhaps a decade or so.

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December 12, 2012

Which one is the best government in the world? The winner is Canada !!

I wanted to seek reasons why the democracies are wobbling in reaching maturity. Of course the reasons are not far from comprehension – it is due to inability to develop mature institutions. Any successful democracy needs lots of institutions which are independent and beyond corruption. It needs independent media, independent judiciary, a fully working corruption free legislature who can raise the questions of probity without compromises and legislate the right laws and finally the executive who can oversee the implementation of those laws. Of course, one would also need independent election commission, a strong corruption free military and police for a working and mature democracy . I would like to rank democracies based upon these measures as to how much mature the democracy is. Since, China and other single party state also have to be accommodated in this maturity index. Let us call it govt maturity index rather than democracy maturity index. So, for this I have used stats from ‘Transparency International‘. I have used their stats on the measures like human resource development, judicial independence, press freedom, voice and accountability based on country wide data to discuss governance maturity. I have ignored corruption here as people tend to use this as a single parameter to discuss governance. In my view, there is no single consolidated governance parameter justifying why any country is getting better governance than another and how any country is travelling towards a better governance. But the world definitely need one govt maturity index. There is of course the table printed on which is the best country to live in but it has more to do with issues like standard of living, health, infrastructure etc. Here, I have picked up those countries I was interested in to compare them – the Source is Transparency International

Country Judicial Independence

(score out of Max 7)

Rule of Law Press Freedom

(High means bad)

Voice and Accountability
UK 6.2 1.769596058 2.00 1.312851012
France 4.9 1.524405497 9.50 1.225976029
Japan 5.8 1.31377106 -1.00 1.047643331
Germany 6.3 1.627934067 -3.00 1.345103086
USA 4.9 1.584584729 14.00 1.16180876
Canada 6.3 1.789068657 -5.67 1.379444766
Australia 6.1 1.770200087 4.00 1.428903554
China 3.9 -0.346839923 136.00 -1.649501221
India 4.3 0.057769364 58.00 0.42402758
Pakistan 3.9 -0.785570665 75.00 -0.81606361

Clear winner here is Canada. It has the best measure in all commonwealth countries even better than the mother country UK. The only measure Australia is better than the Canada is on “Voice and Accountability”. Comparing USA with Canada makes you wonder why USA is not as good – is it because the number of people it has in comparison to Canada? If that reason was plausible then it could justify why India is so low down as it has even more people. I consider that it has more to do with the will to change. Comparing India, Pakistan and China makes one wonder about the China’s real achievement. Other than the wealth creation, it virtually falters on everything else. How its citizens must feel one can only empathise. In Europe, it is not the UK who holds the flag of having best govt – but it is Germany. The only measure on which UK leave Germany behind is the “Rule of Law”. And of course, the Asia has also a first world govt in one country at least – it is in Japan.

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