Thursday, May 07, 2015

UN Musings...

A Thursday morning rant in response to this piece by Ashok Malik in the Times of India; in particular to this excerpt:

The [UN] Security Council is not merely a microcosm of the General Assembly; it was never intended as such. The idea that the permanent segment of the Security Council must mirror ethnic and regional diversity, with a sort of diplomatic affirmative action, is ridiculous.

The idea that calls to make the permanent membership of the Security Council more representative of the world's diversity is "a sort of diplomatic affirmative action" is offensive. Malik is certainly right that the Security Council wasn't set up to be a microcosm of the General Assembly, but he doesn't explain why it's a bad idea for the permanent membership of the Security Council to be more democratic; this isn't about "affirmative action", but about credibility: the UN's mission might have more credibility if it weren't just seen as a collection of rich bullies, and hold-overs from a war won seven decades ago at that. More broadly, of course, arguments like Malik's point to the increasing convergence of what passes for realpolitik with the Indian establishment, and an identification with the world-view and aims of the world's status quo Western powers. Malik refers to India "under-selling" its role post-independence (it seems the dig at Nehru is obligatory in India these days); to paraphrase Malik, the notion that this had anything to do with India not getting a permanent seat on the Security Council is "ridiculous", and only makes sense in the context of the usual right-wing charge that "we would have been great had Nehru not happened". Malik and his ilk ignore the ideological dimension to this: in the 1950s India had a very different conception of itself and "who it stood with" than it currently does -- in the former instance the self-image was of standing in solidarity with the world's underdogs; today there is no such conception, and in fact the obsessive anxiety is that we not be confused with any of those underdogs (Africa? Heck that's affirmative action!).

No comments: