India welcomed its selection Tuesday to the UN Security Council as an opportunity to press its claim for a permanent seat and vowed to use its tenure to promote stability in its own “troubled region.”
India was selected in an uncontested vote to take one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the 15-member council. The five permanent members with veto power are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
India’s presence on the council was a “reflection of the expectations the international community has of India,” Foreign Minister SM Krishna told reporters in New Delhi.
Pledging to be a voice of “moderation and constructive engagement,” Krishna said New Delhi would also seek “reaffirmation of the need for a permanent presence for India” on the Security Council. “We live in a troubled neighbourhood,” Krishna said.
“Our immediate priorities in the council will include peace and stability in our near and extended neighbourhood,” he said, in a clear reference to India’s fraught ties with rival Pakistan and its concerns over the security situation in Afghanistan.
India, a founder member of the UN, has served on the Council six times before, but not since 1992.
India, South Africa, Columbia, Germany and Portugal won non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council when the General Assembly voted to fill five seats that will become vacant at the end of the year. The outgoing members are Turkey, Austria, Japan, Mexico and Uganda. The new members will take over on January 1, 2011, and will serve for two years. India polled 187 votes — the highest tally — South Africa 182, and Colombia 186. They were unchallenged in the contest.
Five of the 15 nations on the Security Council are elected to two-year terms each year. Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are permanent members of the council. “We are truly delighted… We were an endorsed candidate but the endorsement came after a long campaign … We are humbled by the number 187,” Indian ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters after the vote that brings India into the Security Council after 19 years.
Although not a candidate in the contest, one vote was cast for Pakistan. Asked whether Pakistan had voted for itself, Ambassador Puri said, “Well I know that Pakistan voted for India so that particular vote was not cast by Pakistan … it was cast by someone else … I don’t want to comment on the state of mind of the person who put it in.”