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Currently, there are five permanent members of United Nations Security Council. India with other three nations, through G4, is demanding a permanent seat in UNSC.

So,

  1. On what basis/points does India claim the permanent seat in UNSC? Why does India think that she should be a permanent member?
  2. What role the coffee club is playing in this scenario?
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India

India is not only claiming a permanent seat in the Security Council, but also that there's need for a general reform of the Council. Asoke Kumar Mukerji, India's permanent representative at the UN, recently (April 2013) stated:

Mukerji described as "truly bizarre" that while nearly 80 per cent of the work of the Security Council is focused on the continent of Africa, the 15-nation body has never had even one permanent member from any of the 53 states of the African continent.

Source: India for expansion of UN Security Council, The Times of India

When it comes to claiming a permanent seat, India brings forth several arguments:

  • It's a regular contributor to UN's peacekeeping missions, the third largest one behind Pakistan and Bangladesh1
  • It's one of the main financial backers of the UN2
  • It's the world's largest democracy
  • It's the world's second most populous country
  • It maintains one of the largest armies in the world
  • It possesses nuclear power
  • It has been elected in the Security Council seven times3

The numbers seem to support that India has a legitimate claim to a permanent seat, at least when considering the Council's current permanent members. This seems to be the opinion of the US as well, with president Obama pledging in 2010 to support India's claim:

We salute India’s long history as a leading contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions. And we welcome India as it prepares to take its seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Source: Remarks by the President to the Joint Session of the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, India

The Coffee Club

The "Coffee Club's" main counter argument is that granting a permanent seat to any of the G4 does not constitute an actual reform of the Security Council, something that in their opinion is sorely needed. Their main counter arguments are summarized in a statement by Giulio Terzi, permanent representative of Italy to the United Nations:

a) Quite frankly we do not think that anyone, not even the Chair of the negotiations, has the right to privilege one key issue over all the others, if this is not accepted by everybody. And is not what the Member States in their various groups have requested;

b) The model of enlargement in two categories, as defined in the July 16 letter, does not actually exist as a model. Just as the proposal for an enlargement in only one category does not represent a model. In reality these are very general definitions within which there are numerous views: only in some cases true models. Within the position favorable to an expansion in two categories, for example, there is a broad range of views that are sometime diametrically opposed.

...

c) By the same logic, it is clearly a deformation to posit a presumed level of support in favor of a presumed model of expansion in two categories.

...

There is no objective possibility to identify five or six Countries that, more than others, can advance superior claims to a permanent seat. The so-called key actors on the international scene are far more numerous than the four celebrated “great pretenders.” The influence of these actors, in today’s world, changes at unprecedented speed, due to both political and economic factors.

If those demanding national permanent seats wish to refer to objective criteria, it is clear that the assigning of such seats would be valid exclusively on the basis of two conditions: that they be subject to elections, and that these elections be periodic. Only the periodic approval by the membership can assure a constant assessment of respect for these criteria. The very distinguished Representative of Brazil said that we don’t need criteria but just a vote of the “peers” in the General Assembly. So, how does Brazil justify the fact that the UN Charter does set criteria for the election of the non permanent seats? Do we ask less for the permanent, and more for the non permanent members?

The idea of creating new national permanent seats, as we know, originally is rooted in economic factors. In the early 1990s, in fact, some Countries argued that the emerging economic powers should enter the Security Council. If economic capacity is a criterion, however, it is in net contrast to the idea of permanence. For a concrete example, look at the list of the top contributors to the UN budget, how it has changed in the past 20 years, and the trends it indicates: there are Countries on the quick rise and Countries on the decline. For these very reasons, it is hardly a coincidence that six out of the top eleven contributors are Countries that closely sympathize with the positions of UfC.

Those laying claims to new permanent seats today will find themselves in the space of just a few years flanked by new emerging powers that also aspire to a privileged seat. A reform that opens to new national permanent seats would give life to a Security Council destined to age very rapidly. After a few seasons we would find ourselves facing new pretenders lamenting again the lack of representation in this body.

Source: Meeting of the informal plenary of the General Assembly on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters - Statement by H.E. Ambassador Giulio Terzi Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations (New York, 2 September 2009)

It's worth mentioning that Pakistan, a country with a troublesome relationship with India, sides with the "Coffee Club".

Small 5 and ACT

In May 2012, the "Small 5" group (Switzerland, Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, and Singapore) presented a draft resolution on Improving Working Methods of the Security Council. Its main points were:

  • A greater role for the troop-contributing countries (TCCs) and those that make large financial contributions in the preparation and modification of mandates for peacekeeping missions
  • Standing invitations to the Chairs of country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission to participate in relevant debates and, when appropriate, informal discussions
  • Better access for interested and directly concerned States to subsidiary organs
  • Establishing a working group on lessons learned in order to analyze reasons for non-implementation or lack of effectiveness to suggest mechanisms aimed at enhancing implementation of decisions

Source: ‘Small-5′ Propose GA Resolution on Improving Working Methods of the Security Council, GAPWBLOG

However, the "Small 5" withdrew the draft, after facing fierce opposition.

The more recent development seems to be a new group with 21 member states, called ACT:

On Thursday, 2 May 2013, a new group called ACT (Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency) - comprising 21 Member States - officially launched its initiative for better working methods of the Security Council. This initiative is a follow up to the multi-year efforts from the S5*, in particular in regard to its draft resolution L.42 Rev.2 from May 2012. That resolution was withdrawn due to intense pressure from governments, especially the 5 Permanent Members of the UN Security Council.

The initial coordinator of this new ACT group is Switzerland and its Permanent Representative Paul Seger made a presentation, and a fact sheet was distributed. Ambassador Seger described the reasons, the goals, the background, the issues and strategies the 21 governments** would be following in the GA and at the UN.

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Note:
* S5: Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore, and Switzerland
** Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Estonia, Finland, Gabon, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania (obs) and Uruguay.

Source: 21 Member States Launch New Initiative to Improve the Working Methods of the Security Council, Center for U.N. Reform Education

ACT's positions on expanding the Security Council and on G4's claims are not yet known.

Further reading

1 UN says peacekeepers overstretched, Al Jazeera
2 2009 Financial Contributions, UN
3 Countries Elected Members of the Security Council, UN

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    tl;dr Everyone agrees the Security Council needs to change, no one agrees on how to change it. – yannis May 31 '13 at 5:29
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India believes that they should be a permanent member of the Security Council because they have nuclear weapons, like the members of the Security Council, who (apart from India, South Africa, North Korea and Pakistan) are the only countries in the world to develop nuclear weapon technology.

That's the main reason, but they also pile on dubiously related extra stuff, such as:

  • India is the 'most populous democracy', as China isn't a democracy, but then again, it's debated whether India is a proper one after recent events.
  • India has a large army.
  • India pays 0.737% of the UN budget, paying the 24th highest, which is still significantly lower than other countries not demanding a seat such as Italy, Canada, Australia, and Spain.
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    "the original Security Council members were the ones that had developed nuclear weapon technology" nuclear weapons has nothing to do with it. and in 1945 only the US had them. the USSR did not have them until 1949 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RDS-1 – Federico Aug 31 '17 at 10:51
  • I see what you mean. I probably worded that poorly. I meant that India believes that it should be part of the UNSC because India considers that the criteria. – Michael Rosen Aug 31 '17 at 12:36

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