Reform, terror in focus as India assumes UNSC chair

New York: India took over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Thursday at a time of an acute international crisis that will call upon its diplomatic skills in the UN’s highest decision-making body.

Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj stepped in as President of a deeply polarised Council where the West is ranged against Moscow and Beijing in a situation exacerbated by veto-wielding Russia’s devastating war against Ukraine. The Council is also forced into inaction by veto-wielding China on North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in defiance of the UN, a threat that directly affects India and Indo-Pacific nations.

Preparing for the presidency, Kamboj met Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday and she tweeted they “discussed the priorities and programme of work ahead”. Although Kamboj will have the benefit of India’s tightrope walk between the adversaries, keeping its lines of diplomatic communications open to all sides at the highest levels, a breakthrough will be impossible.

While it may be impossible for the Council president to arrive at compromises on issues like Ukraine or North Korea, there are other routine matters like peacekeeping operations on which a compromise can be hammered out.

India is expected to use its presidency to continue to put a spotlight on terrorism, an imminent threat.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is expected to personally preside over a special high-level meeting of the Council on December 15 on the global danger from terrorism. The session will follow up a special meeting India convened in Mumbai and New Delhi last month as the chair of the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee.

It is India’s 12th turn to preside over the Council under a system based on alphabetic order and it comes in the last month of its two-year term as an elected member. India last presided over the Council in August 2021 when T.S. Tirumurti was the Permanent Representative and before that in 2011 and 2012 during Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s tenure as the envoy to the UN.

Image courtesy of (Image: Twitter/ @RuchiraKamboj)

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