written by Gautam Badlani



In the backdrop of the failure of the League of Nations and the Second World War, the United Nations was established in the year 1945 with the aim of maintaining world peace and order, promoting friendly relations among various nations and protecting human rights. India also became a member of the UN on 30 th October, 1945. The United Nations has 5 principal organs, namely, General Assembly, United Nations Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice and the Secretariat.[i]


The United Nations Security Council (hereafter UNSC) is responsible for maintaining international security and for the determination of any threat to peace. It can impose economic sanctions and can initiate military action against an aggressor. The decisions taken by the UNSC are binding on all its members. This is an exclusive power of the UNSC as the other UN bodies do not enjoy any similar authority. There are 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members in the UNSC. The five permanent members are the United States of America, United Kingdom, China, France and Russia. The 10 non-permanent members are elected for a two-year term by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly. The permanent members of the UNSC have the veto power which could be used to veto or block any resolution. The UNSC can pass a resolution by an affirmative vote of 9 of its non-permanent members and the concurring votes of all the permanent members.



Even though the UNSC has been successful in preventing another World War, there have still been numerous instances of wars and acts of aggression that have attracted global attention and concern. There have been several human rights violations in various parts of the world which the UNSC has certainly failed to prevent. The UNSC has also failed to keep a check on the rise of terrorism. This is largely because there have been a lot of changes in the world order and global power structure since the inception of the UNSC. However, the UNSC has failed to modify itself according to these changes. The permanent members of the UNSC have remained the same since the establishment of the UNSC. This composition still reflects the geopolitical scenario of 1945. The UNSC does not have any permanent members from three continents, namely, Australia, South American and Africa. There have been numerous instances of these permanent members misusing their veto power for serving their personal and geopolitical interests. All the member nations do not enjoy equitable representation in the UNSC. This undermines the democratic structure of the UNSC and the confidence of the people in this UN body.

G4 Meaning:

G4 refers to the group of India, Brazil, Germany and Japan. These 4 countries support each other’s claim to a permanent seat on the UNSC. The economic status and international standing of these 4 countries have increased manifold since the UNSC was established. Hence these countries have organized themselves in a group to give a push to their collective demands for structural changes in the UNSC and an increase in the number of permanent members. These nations have been calling for a decisive push for the long-pending UNSC reforms.[ii]

These countries have also been making immense contributions, be it through manpower or financial assistance, to the peace-keeping operations of the UN and hence deserve to be included in the group of permanent members. The G4 proposal calls for the addition of 6 permanent and 4 non-permanent seats to the UNSC on the basis of geography and a reform in the procedural methods of the UNSC.



India is one of the fastest-growing economies and has a phenomenal geopolitical standing. India is one of the major global powers and is capable of playing a key role in the maintenance of international peace and security. India is also the world’s biggest democracy and home to more than 1.3 billion people. Inclusion of India as a permanent member in the UNSC will certainly make the body more representative, credible and relevant.


Uniting for Consensus refers to a group of countries, led by Italy, who oppose the G4’s demand for an increase in the non-permanent seats of the UNSC. This group is also known as the coffee club and around 40 countries are members of this group. This group acknowledges that the UNSC is losing its credibility and that there is an urgent need for reforms in the UN body but at the same time it also opposes the inclusion of any more permanent members in the council. The coffee club countries support the addition of more non-permanent seats but are against any increase in the number of permanent members.



The UNSC reforms have certainly been long overdue. The global scenario and international power structure have changed a lot since the UNSC was founded. There is an urgent need to bring reforms in the UNSC to prevent it from becoming obsolete and to maintain its relevancy in today’s world. The UNSC must either get done away with the permanent member/veto power structure or it should increase the number of permanent members so that all the key global powers get an equal weightage in the decisions of the UNSC. African countries must also come to a consensus regarding which country they want to represent their region as the permanent seat of UNSC. The UNSC must also become more transparent, accountable and democratic.




Gautam Badlani,
1 st Year,
Chanakya National Law University


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