Right after his speech at the UN General assembly, Prime Minister Modi chaired the Group of Four or G4 nations meeting at Hotel Waldorf Astoria, forming a formidable alliance to pitch in for the permanent membership in UN Security Council. Since then there have been lot of heated debates both within the country and outside about the need and the efficacy of such an alliance in the wake of our own bid to get a permanent seat by ourselves as also the composition of the alliance itself.
After almost about 10 years since 2005, when the need to reform the UNSC was first taken up, there had been hardly any progress but for the recent announcement, when the General Assembly finally approved “text based negotiations” for the reforms and possible expansion of the UNSC. India has been trying for a permanent membership all these years and have so far managed to get vocal support from US, UK, Russia and France among the P5, with China being the only member ambiguous in its position. We also have support from Gulf states like UAE, and many African nations. Except of course from Pakistan and the lobby led by Italy, Mexico, South Korea and others who are a separate block called “United for Consensus” who oppose the bid by G4.
Therefore the question as to whether it is a good strategy to move ahead through this new alliance or not with even people like Yashwant Sinha criticising the move through G4 by India. To put in perspective, almost 70 years after the World War II has ended, and well past into a new millenium, we have still not come to grips with the reality of a changing politico-economic landscape of the world which is the core demand for the reform of the UNSC. Except China, almost all the other members of P5 have been part of the Allied Force in WW II that fought against Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Japan and Italy.
Since then, Germany was divided and re-united, and never looked back. USSR has vanished and Russia is a much weaker member. EU was formed and France and Britain definitely are not the two growing or top nations from that region and hardly can be termed a Super Power. Japan is the third largest economy and Germany is the fourth in the world. India is the largest democracy and currently the fastest growing economy and the seventh largest in the world in nominal terms and the third largest in PPP terms. Brazil is again in the Top 10 both as an economy and in population figures and a very important constituent in BRICS. G4 themselves aim to make it G5 or 6 by including one or two African nations to represent that region also and Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria being the top contenders there, but again African Union has failed to reach a consensus on this. Hence the Security Council consisting of the current five permanent members or the P5 having the ultimate power to veto any UN resolution is definitely not reflecting the changing political and economic landscape of the new millenium in the post World War context, is the main grouse by those who are making their bids to secure permanent membership.
And, the strongest pitch by the G4 has been these two factors – democracy and economic influence and all the members in the G4 are well ahead of the other possible contenders in these two aspects. However their own regional power struggles and posturing with neighbours make it a bit harder for them to get consensus. Indian bid of course is strongly opposed by Pakistan which is trying to rope in a confused China and possibly Saudi and other GCC / Muslim majority nations to back its stance. Brazil has opposition from Columbia, Argentina, Mexico and other Latin American countries. Japan’s bid is opposed by both China and South Korea since they feel they have not fully atoned for all the war crimes during World War II. Similarly Italy and others fear the growing influence of Germany, both in EU and with a permanent membership in UNSC, in the world affairs too.
Hence the question, with so many regional squabbles would it be a better idea to go through G4 or to bid ourselves as among the G4, we have better chances and the least opposition to our bid, so to speak. Having said that, moving through G4 has its own advantages. First each nation in G4 supports the bid for the other, thus we have secured the support and the alliance of three major countries and their friends. Also by allying with them, we need not necessarily become enemies of those countries who are opposing their bids as these issues are bilateral between those countries. Secondly, at least three of these four, perhaps with the exception of Brazil, have very strong ties with the US hence it just makes our case even stronger. With Brazil and India being in BRICs too, it is easier to transact and negotiate with Russia and China, together as a stronger counter weight, for this agenda.
Lastly, by making such an alliance, we are not going to lose anything, but perhaps may stand to gain a lot and expedite the process to get our permanent membership faster, if at all. Like for instance if there is going to be a trade-off and say one or two out of the G4 only could get permanent membership, then we stand the best chance in the group of four compared to others, as in when it comes to Asia, China and others like South Korea may possibly support our inclusion compared to Japan’s. Similarly Brazil has more opposition from their region than we have in ours, as the only real opposition for us is Pakistan and the world wouldn’t care much for their noise.
Besides, I also feel G4 whether they are ultimately successful in their bid or not can expand the purpose of their alliance to become a considerable parallel alliance to G7 (or 8) or to BRICS and that way, our own influence in all matters concerning trade, security, and economic policies in the world is considerably enhanced beyond BRICS. Therefore, in more ways than one, this alliance could do a lot more benefit for us than to be counter productive as per the apprehensions raised by some quarters. Of course any alliance is as strong as how it works and who leads it, as we have seen how NAM was a complete failure as opposed to NATO and such, and in this case as it is chaired by our PM, we can hope that at least as long as he is leading or championing this cause, it would more likely succeed than fail.
So let G4 or G-Force get the right momentum to speed up the cause to get us the goal we seek. Or in Modi’s words, “May the phorce be with them”
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