India calls for more transparency in Security Council’s working

United Nations, Nov 22 Pressing ahead with its calls for reforming the UN Security Council and expanding its membership, India has called for more transparency in its workings, accountability and openess to participation by the world body’s membership, especially in mandating peacekeeping operations.

India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji told the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Friday that the member states should be able to know how the Council’s “decisions were reached, the sensitivities with which such decisions were taken, and whether the working procedures of the Council were applied consistently.”

Addressing the “widely held perception that the Council uses different standards to deal with terrorism,” Mukerji said that “it would benefit the Council to have regular interactive sessions with member states to address these issues.”

As examples, he cited Council’s September resolution in foreign terrorist fighters in September and a Presidential Statement Thursday, and the endorsment of a policy of “zero tolerance” for terrorism. “It is not clear to us as to what are the working procedures applied within the Council when it deliberates on how to counter terrorism, which is
becoming the single biggest threat to the maintenance of international peace and security,” he said.

He drew attention to the closed in style of the Council’s decision-making process and said that although nations that are not members of the Council are allowed under the charter to participate in its debates, the Council resolutions or the Presidential Statements had already been decided on even before hearing their views. “This reduces
our participation to mere tokenism,” he said.

For improving the functioning of the Council, Mukerji said, “a comprehensive reform of the Council, especially expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories is required” because involving more member states in the Council’s decision making process “will make it more transparent, credible, legitimate and representative.”

With more than 8,000 Indian personnel serving in UN peacekeeping operations, New Delhi has a special concern over how the Council issues mandates for their deployments. Mukerji urged the council to consult with the nations contributing troops as provided for in the UN Charter.

“The danger of using the UN peacekeepers to tackle what are essentially internal conflicts or law and order problems need not be overemphasised,” Mukerji said. “In many member states, the use of the military for dealing with law and order problems is strictly regulated by law. This must be reflected in the Council as well, especially when the provisions of the UN Charter do not, in our view, allow such misuse of our peacekeepers.”

He said not only how the peacekeeping mandates are formulated, but also how they are changed midstream are matters of concern and cited the case of the Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), where Indian troops are deployed.

Initially MONUSCO’s mandate was to protect civilians and humanitarian and human rights workers. In March last year, the Council expanded the mandate and ordered the creation of Intervention Brigades – units that carry out offensive operations against militias. This marked a major change in peacekeeping operations with deployment of special units that
take on an offensive role in a departure from the traditional defensive posture.

Indian troops are not a part of Intervention Brigades, but still face heightened danger. Mukerji said, “The implication of having intervention and traditional peacekeeping units under one command with no differentiation in physical appearance is that it would invite attacks on peacekeepers.”

At least four Indians have been killed in UN’s Congo operations.