United Nations: Calling the UN Security Council an "anachronism," Indian Parliament speaker Sumitra Mahajan has urged the international community to take early action to reform it in order to shore up the legitimacy of the world body itself.
"The Security Council is, undoubtedly, one of the most important institutions of global governance," Mahajan, speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, stated. "If its legitimacy is in doubt, then so would be the legitimacy of the United Nations. And, in fact, of the notion of global governance itself."
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan
She was speaking Tuesday at a session of the Preparatory Committee for the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments on the subject of key challenges to world peace and democracy.
She pointed out that the Council's composition was based on UN's structure in 1945 and she asked in a series of rhetorical questions to drive her point home, "Is that composition still representative of the international community? The United Nations then had 51 members. The figure now is 193."
At the founding of the UN, there were only three African members, including South African apartheid regime, Mahajan pointed out. "Today it has 54," she said. "How many permanent members of the Security Council are from Africa?"
After a briefing by Liechtenstein Amabassador Christian Wenaweser on the work of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, which brings together 22 nations working on UN reform, Mahajan said she would like to know what it proposes to do to "bring more legitimacy to the the permanent membership of the Council."
Pressing the case for changing the composition of the Council, she asked, "While improvement in working methods, or a code of conduct on use of the veto, are important, can they substitute for reform of the composition? Can improvement in working methods legitimize a structure that is not legitimate? To say that is anachronistic is only an understatement."
In 2010 during the 65th Anniversary of the United Nations, world leaders had committed themselves to the early reform of the Council. She asked, "When would early be?"
Although the membership of the Council was increased from 11 to 15 in 1965 with addition of four elected members, permanent membership continues to be restricted to the original five who wield veto powers. In any expansion of the permanent membership, India, Germany, Brazil, Japan and an African nation would be the top contenders.
At another session of the committee, Mahajan suggested they adopt "Democratic Governance and Sustainable Development: Role of Parliament" as the theme for the speakers' conference to be held next year in the run-up to the summit of world leaders at UN's 70th anniversary.
She said stressing the linkage between democratic governance and sustainable development and defining the role of Parliaments in helping achieve the goals would further the goals of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which in convening the speakers' conference.