France and India will join hands in New York at the table of the United Nations Security Council as chairs in July and August, respectively. France and India share strategic partnerships in areas like defence, economic cooperation, healthcare, education etc. Both countries strongly believe in multilateral, rule-based systems to address issues of the 21st century. Problems like terrorism, cyber-attacks, climate change, pandemics, international law, insecurities triggered due to global warming require a joint multilateral action led by principles that believe in humanism.
United Nations organisations that were established in 1945 must agree to the fact that it needs to evolve to keep up with the changing dynamics of the world. India’s external affairs Minister S Jaishankar‘s call for reformed multilateralism is the need of the hour – the French government also agreed to this idea. France has been trying to increase permanent (India) and nonpermanent members in the UNSC to increase the representation for a long time. It is well-known that the permanent five nations, namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, do not represent the whole world. To be honest, they don’t even represent every continent.
Increasing representation in UNSC is important because it is one of the six main organisations of the United Nations that maintains international peace and security in the world. The UNSC cannot be locked in its ivory tower, hoping that the big five countries would understand every situation and reality of the world. The dynamics of the world has changed a lot since 1945; there are emerging powers (The G4 countries – India, Germany, Japan, Brazil) who are in a position to make game-changing addition towards the goal of peacekeeping. France has always been in favour of adding India to the list of permanent members of the UNSC.
Representation from the continents like Africa, South America and Australia is important. France hopes to expand the security council to 25 members so that justice can be done to every person in the world. Increasing representation of the council would ensure appropriate action, increase its authority and increase people’s trust in the council. As history is our witness, any organisation/system that wants to thrive for a long time must be trusted by the people it is trying to work for.
To gain trust, UNSC also has to make sure that the permanent members avoid the use of veto while discussing punishment or embargoes for crimes like war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, mass atrocities et cetera, irrespective of their interests.
Why is France supporting India?
France and India have been partners with each other for a long time; France was the first western country which reached out to India for a strategic partnership. After the Pokhran nuclear test of 1998, every country in the world imposed bilateral sanctions on India; France was the first country that refused to do so and understood the security concerns of India. During the Cold War period, France chose India as its preferred partner in the Indian Ocean region. France was also one of the first P5 countries that supported permanent Indian representation in the UN Security Council. The French government helped India to set up the Sriharikota launch site, assisted in increasing payload and engine development.
Defence cooperation with France began in the 1950s when India bought the Ouragan aircraft, Mysteres Jaguar, Mirage 2000, Rafael aircraft and Scorpene submarines (Project-75). Both the countries participate in three regular defence exercises known as exercise Shakti for Army, exercise Varun for Navy and exercise Garud for Air Force. The naval exercise known as Varun helps in warding off security threats in the Indian Ocean region, India and France both have jointly expressed Chinese threats in the Indian Ocean region. Discussions are on the way that would result in India using French bases like Djibouti to counter the Chinese, addition of India in nautical outposts. Addition to the nautical pact will send a strong message to enemies of India who underestimate Indian maritime power and increase Indian engagement in the western Indian Ocean where the French have deployed forces.
Assistance in the energy sector –
The French will help in building six EPR (European Pressurised Reactors) nuclear power reactors that generate 9.6 GW. Negotiations are going on between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCL) and Areva, a project at Jaitapur will soon begin. India, which has abundant solar energy, has collaborated with the French to form the International Solar Alliance to promote green and clean energy. France has promised to invest $861.5 million by 2022 to develop solar power projects in India and other developing countries.
India and France engage in trade of $10 billion. There are nearly a thousand French business entities working in India; France has almost a hundred Indian business establishments conducting business. India and France have signed business agreements worth $16 billion already. Before Brexit, Indian companies had to enter the European market via the United Kingdom, but now India can look forward to France as an entry point.
Space and urban development assistance –
Apart from Sriharikota, the vision document of the French Government includes India in a joint mission for space, high-resolution earth observation and applications in meteorology, oceanography and cartography.
The Indian model for urban development takes inspiration from the French model of public-private partnership to develop important services like housing, transport, sanitation, water et cetera. France is interested in Indian intelligent cities like Chandigarh, Nagpur, Pondicherry and signing agreements for electric mobility, waste management, smart grids and water supply.
The French government has invested heavily in India; hence India’s well-being is really important to France to generate enough returns.
Why is a permanent seat at UN Security Council important for India?
India is the largest democracy and second-most populous country in the world; India is the fifth largest economy and one of the fastest-growing economies of the world; India has acquired the status of nuclear weapon state in 1998 after the Pokhran test, the Indians are expanding their global footprint in areas like politics, sustainable energy, economic development, science and technology et cetera. India is a member of export control regimes like the MTCR, Wassenaar agreement; India holds a prominent position in maritime and space diplomacy.
India has successfully proven that it is worthy of the permanent seat because India is an undisputed leader of the third world countries given its role in G 77 and Non-Aligned Movement NAM. Based on credentials, India’s permanent seat at Security Council is backed by the G4 countries, the majority of the permanent members of UNSC and maximum members of the UN General Assembly.
These capabilities and achievements make India worthy of a permanent seat at the UN Security Council (The Indians deserve it). Being a member permanent member of the Security Council would provide India the ability to expand geo-economic and geopolitical influence; the permanent seat will ensure that India becomes a global rule maker than a responsible follower. The Chinese have been creating problems for India; the Doklam stand-off, vetoed Pakistan’s blacklisting in FATF, skirmish near the Pangong Lake in 2020. The most crucial benefit of being a permanent member would be minimising the Chinese hegemony in Asia; it will help India address security concerns arising from China and Pakistan. It will deter China to infiltrate/intervene in India via Pakistan.
The only roadblock while gaining the permanent seat is that India has not signed Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and also refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).