India and the United Nations

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Republic of India
Flag of the United Nations.svg Flag of India.svg
United Nations membership
Membership Full member
Since 30 October 1945[1]
UNSC seat Non-permanent (7 past full terms)
Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji

India was among the original members of the United Nations that signed the Declaration by United Nations at Washington on 1 January 1942 and also participated in the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco from 25 April to 26 June 1945. As a founding member of the United Nations, India strongly supports the purposes and principles of the UN and has made significant contributions to implementing the goals of the Charter, and the evolution of the UN's specialized programmes and agencies.[2] India is a charter member of the United Nations and participates in all of its specialised agencies and organisations. India has contributed troops to United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Korea,[3][4] Egypt and the Congo in its earlier years and in Somalia, Angola, Haiti, Liberia, Lebanon and Rwanda in recent years, and more recently in the South Sudan conflict.[5] India has been a member of the UN Security Council for six terms (a total of 12 years), and was a member for the term 2011-12. India is a member of the G4 group of nations who back each other in seeking a permanent seat on the security council and advocate in favour of the reformation of the UNSC. India is also part of the Group of 77.

History[edit]

In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members. However, although today all UN members are fully sovereign states, four of the original members (Belarus, India, The Philippines, and Ukraine) were not independent at the time of their admission.[6] India signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942 and was represented by Girija Shankar Bajpai who was the Indian Agent-General at the time. Afterwards the Indian delegation led by Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar signed the United Nations Charter on behalf of India during the historic United Nations Conference on International Organization held in San Francisco, United States on 26 June 1945.[7] Sir A. Ramasamy Mudaliar later went on to serve as the first president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Technically, India was a founding member in October 1945, despite it being a British colony. India, Canada, Union of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia were all British colonies but were given independent seats in the UN General Assembly. India gained full independence in 1947.

Independent India viewed its membership at the United Nations as an important guarantee for maintaining international peace and security. India stood at the forefront during the UN's tumultuous years of struggle against colonialism and apartheid. India's status as a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 cemented its position within the UN system as a leading advocate of the concerns and aspirations of developing countries and the creation of a more equitable international economic and political order. In 1945, when the UN charter was signed, more than 750 million people lived in colonies including India. India was amongst the most outspoken critics of apartheid and racial discrimination in South Africa, being the first country to have raised the issue in the UN (in 1946).[8]

Activities[edit]

UN General Assembly[edit]

India was a founding member of the United Nations, joining in October 1945, two years before acquiring independence from the British Raj.[9] By 1946, India had started raising concerns regarding colonialism, apartheid and racial discrimination. From early 1947-1948, India took an active part in Drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dr (Mrs). Hansa Mehta, a Gandhian political activist and social worker who led the Indian delegation, had made important contributions in drafting of the Declaration, especially highlighting the need for reflecting gender equality by changing the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 'all men are created equal' (Eleanor Roosevelt's preferred phrase) to 'all human beings'.[10][11]

In 1953, the chief delegate of India at the time, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was elected the first woman President of the UN General Assembly. India supported the struggle towards global disarmament and the ending of the arms race, and towards the creation of a more equitable international economic order. India had a mediatory role in resolving the stalemate over prisoners of war in Korea contributing to the signing of the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953.[12] India chaired the five-member Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission while the Indian Custodian Force supervised the process of interviews and repatriation that followed. India then went on to chair the three international commissions for supervision and control for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos established by the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina. India also had an active role to play in the Suez Crisis in 1956 with the role of Nehru, both as Indian Prime minister and a leader of the Non Aligned Movement being significant. Indian historian Inder Malhotra wrote that "Now Nehru—who had tried to be even-handed between the two sides—denounced Eden and co-sponsors of the aggression vigorous. He had a powerful, if relatively silent, ally in the US president Dwight Eisenhower who went to the extent of using America's clout in the IMF to make Eden and Mollet behave".[13]

Charter provisions on Non-Self-Governing Territories were given a new thrust when the UN adopted the landmark 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples which was co-sponsored by India. The following year, the Special Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on Decolonization was established to study, investigate and recommend action to bring an end to colonialism, it was chaired by India for the first time. India played a leading role in the formation of a Sub-Committee against Apartheid set up by the General Assembly. When the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted in 1965, India was among the earliest signatories, however it does not recognize competence under article 14 and it does not consider itself bound by article 22.

India also played a prominent role in articulating the economic concerns of developing countries in such UN-sponsored conferences as the triennial UN Conference on Trade and Development and the 1992 Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.[14] It has been an active member of the Group of 77, and later the core group of the G-15 nations. Other issues, such as environmentally sustainable development and the promotion and protection of human rights, have also been an important focus of India's foreign policy in international forums.

UN Security Council[edit]

Countries which host an Indian diplomatic mission.

Activities during 1947-1962[edit]

Despite its anti-status quo stand on many global issues, India's attitude toward the basic structure of the U.N was fundamentally conservative.[15] It accepted the organization and distribution of power in the U.N, as both a guarantee of Indian sovereignty and as a check on the numerical superiority of the U.S and its western coalition. India supported the charter provisions for a Security Council veto for the great powers, opposed the U.S initiative to circumvent the veto through the Uniting for Peace Resolution, dismissed Hammarskjöld's notion of a "U.N presence" as interventionist and opposed all efforts to conduct U.N directed plebiscites as tests of opinion.[16]

India's procedural conservatism was based both on its commitment to national sovereignty and its desire to protect Indian interests. Its experience with the U.N had not always been positive. In the early years after independence, a whole range of issues, which had their origins in the partition of the Indian subcontinent between India and Pakistan, came before the U.N. These issues included the disputed princely states of Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir, which were ultimately incorporated into the Indian Union through the use of military force.[17][18]

The most persistent of these disputes was the Kashmir conflict. Nehru's faith in the UN and adherence to its principles proved costly on some occasions due to the power play inherent in the organization. This was seen by his decision to refer Pakistan's intervention ('invasion') in disputed Kashmir to the UN Security Council in January 1948.[19] The United Kingdom, which was hoping to avoid being seen as unfriendly to a Muslim state after the creation of Israel, used pressure tactics on its allies France, Canada and the US to support the Pakistani viewpoint that Kashmir's accession to India was disputable and had to be put to the test of a plebiscite.[20] Nehru's hope that the UN would unconditionally instruct Pakistan to vacate the one-third portion of Kashmir that the Pakistani tribesmen and army had occupied fell flat in the face of geopolitical maneuverings and cross-issue linkage. To this day, Indian strategic commentators and critics of Nehru bemoan his cardinal mistake of taking the Kashmir dispute to a UN that was packed with pro-Pakistani partisan powers.[21] According to columnist Brahma Chellaney, 'Nehru did not appreciate that the UN was an institution of power politics, not an impartial police force'.[22] As if a double reminder were needed that India was small fry in a UN dominated by crafty Great Powers divided into two ideological camps, New Delhi was disappointed to find that Security Council members the US, United Kingdom and France tried to prevent it from forcibly absorbing the Portuguese colony of Goa in 1961.[23] But for the Soviet Union veto in favor of India, Goa could have become enmeshed in another Kashmir-like stalemate for decades, buffeted by the changing winds of Great Power alignments and preferences that were paralyzing and hijacking the UN.[19][24]

Washington Post reported that "India was offered a permanent seat on the council 55 years ago, in 1955. But that offer, made by the United States and the Soviet Union, was declined by India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru said the seat should be given to China instead.".[25] The required council seat was then held by Taiwan (ROC). Prime Minister Nehru categorically denied receiving any such offer, formal or informal.[26] Even if India were to accept such offers assuming they were made, it would have required the United Nations charter to be amended to include India in place of Republic of China (Taiwan) in the Security Council or to expand the Council. It is not known whether the Taiwanese government representing China's seat at the time in the Security Council would have vetoed the amendment or accepted the amendment under US pressure as Taiwan was solely dependent on the US for its protection from mainland China.

Overall the period from 1947-1962 was marked by India's active interest in all UN activities under the leadership of Krishna Menon who was the Indian Ambassador to the United Nations from 1952-1962. Indian leadership and peacekeeping roles in the UN brought it considerable recognition and global standing.[27][28]

The Low Profile Phase from 1962-1976[edit]

India's defeat in the Indo-China War of 1962 came as a grave shock in comparison to its global aspirations and recognition. Large scale hostilities and military reverses dealt a shattering blow to its self-confidence and pride. India was obliged to turn towards the west for military and political support. Following the conflict with China, India became involved in two wars with Pakistan and entered a period of political instability, economic stagnation, food shortages and near-famine conditions. India's role diminished in the UN which came both as a result of its image and a deliberate decision by the post-Nehru political leadership to adopt a low profile at the UN and speak only on vital Indian interests.[29] This change in policy was implemented during the 1965 debate on Kashmir in the Security Council when Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh dramatically stormed out of the session in response to the intemperate language of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's Foreign Minister.[30] In his book "India's Changing Role in the United Nations" Stanley Kochanek shows how 'bilateralism became the guiding principle of Indian foreign policy', relegating the UN to just an 'arena for maintaining such contacts'.[31] Further the Soviet Union's backing became far more important than a slow and indecisive UN Security Council when India obtained its greatest strategic victory by breaking up Pakistan into two and carving out independent Bangladesh in the year 1971.

In 1974 India tested its first nuclear device, the aftermath of which resulted in a nuclear embargo by US and Canada. Soon after the UN's non-proliferation agenda became another irritant that forced New Delhi to view some units of the organization with distaste as fronts for imposing discriminatory regimes instead of promoting universal disarmament.[19] From the very beginning it has refused to lend its support to the Nuclear non-proliferation Treaty with India's then External Affairs Minister and later President, Pranab Mukherjee in a visit to Tokyo in 2007 commenting that: "If India did not sign the NPT, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but because we consider NPT as a flawed treaty and it did not recognize the need for universal, non-discriminatory verification and treatment."[32] In short, the 1960s as a whole saw major changes in the global system but a general decline in UN activities.

Seeking of Permanent Seat in UNSC[edit]

India has been elected seven times to the UN Security Council. Only three countries have served longer than that (Japan, Brazil, and Argentina), except for the Permanent Five, and Colombia has served the same amount of time.

India has been seeking a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council as a member of the G4, an organisation composed of Brazil, Germany, Japan, and India, all who are currently seeking permanent representation. According to their proposal the UN Security Council should be expanded beyond the current fifteen members to include twenty-five members. If this actually happens, it would be the first time permanent Security Council status is extended to a South Asian nation and supporters of the G4 plan suggest that this will lead to greater representation of developing nations rather than the current major powers.

India makes a number of claims to justify its demand. India has the world's second largest population and is the world's largest liberal democracy. It is also the world's tenth largest economy and third largest in terms of purchasing power parity as of 2012.[33] India is the third largest contributor of troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions with 7,860 personnel deployed with ten UN Peacekeeping Missions as of 2014 after Bangladesh and Pakistan,[34][35] all three nations being in South Asia. India has contributed nearly 160,000 troops, the largest number from any country, participated in more than 43 missions and 156 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in UN missions. India has also provided and continues to provide eminent Force Commanders for UN Missions.[34]

Although the U.S. and other permanent Council members were not very supportive of expanding the Security Council, in his visit to India President Obama has offered his support for India to become a permanent member of the Council. However the reaction from other Council members are not very clear, particularly from China. Thus it is uncertain whether the demands by G4 nations will be implemented anytime soon.

Peacekeeping Missions[edit]

An Indian army officer teaches a class on UN Peacekeeping Operations to a group of Indian and U.S. Army Soldiers during Yudh Abhyas 09.

India has been the largest troop contributor to UN missions since its inception. So far India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions with a total contribution exceeding 160,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel having been deployed. In 2014 India is the third largest troop contributor [TCC] with 7,860 personnel deployed with ten UN Peacekeeping Missions of which 995 are police personnel, including the first Female Formed Police Unit under the UN.[34] Recently Indian Peacekeepers were lauded by the UN for their efforts in preventing a carnage in the South Sudan conflict which resulted in the death of two of its soldiers.[36]

India has so far, provided one Military Advisor (Lt Gen R K Mehta), one Police Adviser (Ms Kiran Bedi), one Deputy Military Adviser (Lt Gen Abhijit Guha), 14 Force Commanders and numerous Police Commissioners in various UN Missions. Indian Army has also contributed lady officers as Military Observers and Staff Officers apart from them forming part of Medical Units being deployed in UN Missions.[37] The first all women contingent in peacekeeping mission, a Formed Police Unit from India, was deployed in 2007 to the UN Operation in Liberia (UNMIL).[34] Lt Gen Satish Nambiar, a former Indian Army Lieutenant General served as the United Nations Protection Force commander from March 1992 to March 1993. He also served on the "High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change" of the Peacebuilding Commission.[38]

India was reappointed to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission in December 2010, for a third 2-year term.[39] India is supportive of nationally-led plans for peace consolidation, while arguing for a constructive approach and a "lighter touch" by the Peacebuilding Commission in extending advice, support and in extending its involvement. India has also been contributing to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.[34]

Past Missions[edit]

The following are the Indian contributions to the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions since 1950.

Indian Army T-72 tanks with UN markings as part of Operation CONTINUE HOPE.

(a) Korea (1950–54): Paramedical Unit composed of 17 officers, 9 JCOs and 300 other ranks was deployed to facilitate withdrawal of sick and wounded in Korea. Lt-Gen. K S Thimmayya was appointed as the Chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission set up by UN. India also provided a custodian force under Major General S.P.P. Thorat comprising 231 officers, 203 JCOs and 5696 other ranks.[34][40]

(b) Indo-China (1954–70): India provided an Infantry Battalion and supporting staff for control of Indo-China, comprising three states of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Tasks included monitoring, ceasefire and repatriation of prisoners of war, among others. A total of 970 officers, 140 JCOs and 6157 other ranks were provided during the period from 1954-1970.[34]

(c) Middle East (1956–67): India was part of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), where for the first time armed troop contingents were deployed. India's contribution was an infantry battalion and other support elements. Over a period of 11 years, 393 officers, 409 JCOs and 12383 other ranks took part in the operations.[34]

(d) Congo (1960–64) (ONUC): Two infantry Brigades composed of 467 officers, 401 JCOs and 11354 other ranks participated and conducted operations. A flight of six Canberra bomber aircraft of the IAF also participated in the operations. 39 personnel of the Indian contingent laid down their lives. Capt GS Salaria was awarded posthumously the Paramvir Chakra for action in Katanga, Southern Congo.[34]

(e) Cambodia (1992-1993): United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia was set up to supervise ceasefire, disarm combatants, repatriate refugees and monitor conduct of free and fair elections. A total of 1373 peacekeepers from all ranks of the Indian Army participated.[34][41]

(f) Mozambique (1992–94) (ONUMOZ): Two Engineer companies, HQ company, logistics company, staff officers and military observers were provided. In all 1083 peacekeepers from all ranks participated.[42]

(g) Somalia (1993–94) (UNITAF & UNOSOM II): The Indian Navy and Indian Army took active part in UN Operations. Indian Army deployed a Brigade Group composed of 5000 personnel from all ranks and the navy deployed four battleships.[34][43]

(h) Rwanda (1994–96) (UNAMIR): An Infantry Battalion group, a signal company, and engineer company, staff officers and Military Observers were provided. Total of 956 from all ranks took part. Brigadier Shiva Kumar of the Indian Army (Acting) was the third and final Force Commander of UN troops serving in Rwanda from December 1995-March 1996.[44]

(i) Angola (1989-1999) (UNAVEM): Besides providing a Deputy Force Commander, an Infantry Battalion group and an engineer company comprising a total of 1014 from all ranks. India contributed 10 military observers for UNAVEM I, 25 for UNAVEM II and 20 military observers, 37 SOs, and 30 senior NCOs for UNAVEM III.[45]

(j) Sierra Leone (1999-2001) (UNAMSIL): Two Infantry Battalion groups, two engineer companies, Quick reaction company, Attack helicopter unit, medical unit and Logistic support in addition to sector HQ and Force Headquarters staff were provided.[46]

(k) Ethiopia-Eritrea (2006–08) (UNMEE): Indian contribution comprised one infantry battalion group, one construction engineer company and one force reserve company, apart from staffing at various HQs and military observers.[34][47]

Indian Peacekeepers in Congo for MONUSCO.

Current Missions[edit]

The Indian Armed Forces are currently undertaking the following UN Missions.

(a) Lebanon (UNIFIL) (Since Dec 1998): One infantry battalion group, Level II Hospital comprising 650 peacekeepers from all ranks and 23 staff officers till date, have been deployed. The current situation in the Mission is tense and volatile due to the crises in Syria.[48] UNIFIL's mandate is renewed by United Nations Security Council annually. Current mandate expires on 31 August 2014.[49]

b) Congo (MONUSCO) (Since January 2005): Extended Chapter VII mandate with Augmented Infantry Brigade Group (four infantry battalions with level III Hospital), Army aviation contingent with utility helicopters along with a large number of military observers and SOs have been contributed. In addition, two Formed Police Units (FPU) ex BSF and ITBP have also been deployed since 2009. Lt Gen Chander Prakash of India, was, till recently the Force Commander in MONUSCO. MONUSCO's new mandate vide Resolution 2098 (2013) has been implemented with an Intervention Brigade provided by AU, deployed under UN Command. The FARDC along with the support of MONUSCO were able to destroy the M-23 Rebel Group, however the situation continues to be volatile and uncertain due to the presence of other armed groups.[50]

(c) Sudan and South Sudan (UNMIS/UNMISS) (Since April 2005): Two Infantry Battalion groups, sector HQ, Engineer company, signal company, Level-II Hospital and a large number of military observers and staff officers (SOs) have been deployed. The mission has a Deputy Force Commander Brig Asit Mistry (Indian Army) and until recently a Deputy Police Commissioner Mr Sanjay Kundu (Indian Police Service) was also present there. The latest political developments in the Mission led to widespread inter-tribe violence and large displacement of locals. In the ensuing intra state conflict two Indian Peacekeepers lost their lives while ensuring Protection of Civilians.[5] The current situation continues to be highly volatile and sporadic clashes between the tribes are being reported regularly.[51]

(d) Golan Heights (UNDOF) (Since February 2006): A Logistics battalion with 190 personnel has been deployed to look after the logistics security of UNDOF. Maj.Gen. I.S. Singha is the Force Commander since July 2012. Current crisis due to Syrian conflict has impacted the mission and exchange of fire between the Syrian Forces and the armed groups have put the Peacekeepers in grave danger.[51]

(e) Ivory Coast (UNOCI) (Since April 2004): The mission has been supported by Indian staff officers (SOs) and military observers since its inception.[52]

(f) Haiti (MINUSTAH) (Since December 1997): Apart from three Indian Formed Police Unit (FPU) there, i.e. from CISF, CRPF and Assam Rifles, which have been successful,[34] the mission has been supported by Indian Army staff officers since its inception.[53]

(g) Liberia (UNMIL) (Since April 2007): India has been contributing both male and female Formed Police Units from CRPF and its Specialized unit RAF in Liberia. The Female Formed Police Unit (FPU) has especially become an inspiration for the women of the host nation and have become trendsetters for other such female FPUs across the Globe. Till recently, Mr Gautam Sawang of India was the acting Police Commissioner there.[54][55]

Financial contribution[edit]

India is one of the main contributors to the UN regular budget. Indian contribution to United Nations Democracy Fund was USD 16 million for 2009.[56]

Representation[edit]

India has a permanent mission to the UN, which is led by the Permanent Representative (UN Ambassador), currently Asoke Kumar Mukerji, since 16 April 2013.[57]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  49. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 2115. S/RES/2115(2013) page 1. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  50. ^ http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/monusco/facts.shtml
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  55. ^ http://unliberia.org/press.asp?pr_detail=34
  56. ^ Financial Contributions (UN)
  57. ^ "List of Permanent Representatives and Observers to the United Nations in New York (As of Monday, 05 August 2013)". UN. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 

External links[edit]