Russia, India, and Brazil; And the saga of UN Security Council

The BRICS has managed to not just survive but also flourish and grow despite the predictions prophesising otherwise.

un security council
The coveted seat at the permanent table at the Council, comes with the most sought-after veto power. (UN)

By Dr Aparaajita Pandey

Sergey Lavrov tweeted late last night that India and Brazil were “more than worthy” candidates for permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council. The UNSC has five permanent members since the establishment of the body in 1945; England, France, Russia, the US, and China are those five permanent members and a group of ten non-permanent members are chosen for a tenure of two years, these members are supposed to represent the different regions around the globe. India at the time is a part of the non-permanent members; however, Brazil isn’t at the moment. It has been a long-term goal for India to be a part of the UNSC, more countries like Brazil, Germany, Japan, and South Africa also share the dream of sitting at the proverbial ‘big boy table’. However, till today it does seem like a distant dream. While there have been conversations about India becoming a part of the permanent members, it always comes with a caveat of India being a member without the veto power.

The coveted seat at the permanent table at the Council, comes with the most sought-after veto power. Each of the permanent members is bestowed with the power to veto any decision that is put on the table even if it is passed by the rest of the members. This power is unique and gives the permanent nations leverage in global politics quite akin to the first move advantage. In such a situation; a membership without a veto for all intents and purposes remains meaningless. It is not the first time that Russia has declared its support for the permanent membership of India and Brazil. While it is easy to read this tweet with the undertones of India abstaining from voting in the UNSC and the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) with regards to the Russia – Ukraine Conflict. However, one should look at it from a larger perspective. Russia has supported India’s bid to the United Nations Security Council previously and has even supported the expansion of the Security Council in general.

Russia, India, and Brazil are a part of the multilateral forum of BRICS. The BRICS has managed to not just survive but also flourish and grow despite the predictions prophesising otherwise. The BRICS finds its roots roughly in the RIC grouping; which is the forum containing Russia, India, and China. While the RIC is a geographically cohesive grouping, BRICS has members spanning across 3 continents with Brazil and South Africa as members of the forum.

The BRICS nations have managed to engage in south-south cooperation and grow as economies and as important players of global politics. With this background it makes sense for India and Brazil to be a part of the permanent members of the Council. While India’s bid has previously been supported by Russia; India has not found similar support from the rest of the permanent members. The discord between India and China is multi-dimensional and should not be viewed as restricted to a border dispute. India and China are also two of the biggest powers in Asia and the Asia – Pacific. The changing dynamics of politics in the region and the exponential expansion of the Chinese sphere of influence make it beneficial for not just India but also the rest of the world that India becomes a member of the permanent members of the Security Council. While QUAD and AUKUS are attempts at limiting Chinese expansion specifically in the Indian Ocean, a balancing force like India from the same region as that of China on the Security Council would greatly benefit global politics.

At the same time the Brazilian membership would make the council more representative. This was exactly the reason behind the original thought of expanding the Security Council in the first place. An addition of countries that represent different regions of the world and their troubles would be a more accurate representation of the changing world. As the world is increasingly becoming multi-polar it would be beneficial if more nations become a part of the decision-making processes for greater representation and benevolent governance. It also helps in balancing the power dynamics of global politics and trade which has a massive tilt towards the global north. To even this biased playing field it is imperative that more players be allowed to play the metaphorical game. While the public declarations of support by Russia are welcome, the reality of India and Brazil becoming a permanent part of the UNSC still is a distant dream.

(The author is an independent political strategist and has a PhD from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.)

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