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G4 needs to reach out to more nations for UNSC seats
Sunilchandra Dal | Thursday, 29 September 2016 AT 12:56 PM IST
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The recent resolve of the G4 countries comprising Brazil, Germany, Japan and India to work for comprehensive reforms in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is a step in the right direction. The G4 proposal is now poised to gain momentum again. However, the G4 proposal may have to be tweaked to include more nations in the non-permanent category, for it to gain support from the UN member states.

The foreign ministers of the G4: Minister of State for External Affairs for India MJ Akbar, Federal Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister of Brazil Jose Serra and Foreign Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session held this month and issued a joint statement.

The statement said that more than 70 years after the founding of the UN, its Security Council must change to cope with the emerging global challenges.

The G4 foreign ministers expressed support for regional representation, and the need for Africa’s inclusion in both permanent and non-permanent membership as well as adequate representation of small and medium-sized nations.

Opposing the G4’s bid is the ‘Uniting for Consensus’ (UfC) Group, also known as the Coffee Club. These states are neighbours of G4 nations and oppose their elevation to permanent membership of UNSC out of the economic and political rivalry. Italy, Pakistan, Mexico and Egypt in 1995 founded the ‘Coffee Club’. Spain, Argentina, Turkey, Canada and South Korea joined in later.

As the UfC rivals the G4, it is necessary to take a look at the elaborate proposals of the UfC. In 2005, the UfC Group proposed increasing the number of non-permanent members from 10 to 20. These would be elected for a two-year term. In 2009, the UfC Group proposed a new category of non-permanent seats, elected for an extended duration (3 to 5 years) without the possibility of immediate re-elections. This would not be allocated to single countries but to regional groups on a rotational basis.

The UfC proposal includes a debate on the question of veto, giving a range of options from abolition to the limitation of the application of the veto to matters that deal with threats to the peace. However, the UfC proposal has some drawbacks. Keeping options open on whether the veto of permanent members of the UNSC should be abolished or limited could take decades of debate to reach a conclusion. The UfC has also been accused of trying to delay UNSC reforms.

It is also necessary to keep in mind that any reform of the Security Council would require the agreement of at least two-thirds of UN member states, and that of all permanent members of the UNSC enjoying the veto right.

While it is true that the G4 has demanded seats for Africa in the permanent as well as non-permanent category and is open to including medium-sized countries in the UNSC, the G4 has to move ahead at this point and come up with a concrete proposal for expansion of non-permanent seats. The G4 proposal should offer greater involvement of medium and small countries for it to be more attractive than the UfC proposal. The majority of countries may not view themselves as having permanent seats, but would be interested in occupying non-permanent seats. Thus G4 needs to tweak its proposal to include more countries in the non-permanent seats to succeed.

The new geopolitical reality
- The G4 countries, Brazil, Germany, India and Japan claim permanent membership of the UNSC. After a decade, India revived the proposal by hosting a summit in 2015. India is the top contributor of troops for the UN Peacekeeping Force. Along with the five permanent members of the UNSC, France, United Kingdom, the United States of America, Russia and China, the G4 fall in the top 10 economies of the world and also among the states having the top 10 largest defence budgets.

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