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September 18, 2015

UNSC reform: Ditched by US and betrayed by Russia, but India still tore down Chinese wall

 
There was diplomatic blood on the floor in the tension-filled days before the UNGA decision on Monday to begin text-based negotiations to reform the UN Security Council. Once again, China and Russia led the move to sabotage the process.   A few days before the UNGA session, Chinese and Russian diplomats, in a stealth operation, attempted to insert a couple of paragraphs into the text. If they had succeeded, it would have diluted the entire negotiations on unnecessary technicalities which would have meant the UN would be negotiating UNSC reform for years and years without a decision in sight. 
 Led by India, a number of countries joined the battle against the Chinese move, even launching a protest at UNGA president, Sam Kutesa's residence over the weekend. Kutesa agreed to remove the offending paragraphs.   China wasn't giving up without a bigger fight. They reached out to a number of national capitals to get the text amended before it reached the floor on Monday. Some countries agreed, but ultimately China failed to get the numbers that India had. In all of this diplomatic warfare, the US stayed strangely silent - either to see whether India could win on its own, or because they are keeping their powder dry to kill the process later, or because they silently supported the Sino-Russian move. 
 India was not surprised by the Chinese action. And in those last frenzied moments in the UN, it became clear this would be an India-China battle.   But to see Russia on China's side, after supposedly supporting India's case for almost half a century, was a tough one. This week, Russia sent its deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov to meet Sujata Mehta in the MEA, after their performance in the UN. A statement from the Russian embassy said, the two "exchanged opinions on the main aspects of intergovernmental negotiation process considering the current various options for the increase in the United Nations Security Council membership. The Russian Side reaffirmed the readiness to support the Indian candidature for the United Nations Security Council." But India has taken the Russian betrayal hard.   Bloodied but unbowed, China and Russia, say sources, now plan to take the battle one step further.
They have been working on the Jamaican government to remove Courtney Rattray, the prime brain behind the UNSC reform text, so he cannot head the negotiations on the text and it can be given to someone unfamiliar with the history of the text. That would deal a blow to India.   The UNGA decision to negotiate UNSC reform succeeded on two counts. First, after 23 years there is a text on which the UN can negotiate a reform agenda. Second, in a fair fight, the 13-country group led by China and including Pakistan and Italy called United for Consensus could not drum up enough support for stalling the process.

economictimes

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