Obama Visits India and talks UN Security Council Reform

Obama Visits India and talks UN Security Council Reform

In a recent visit to India, President Obama announced U.S. support for India taking a seat on the United Nations Security Council.  A second announcement centered on U.S. backing of India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.  While these developments indicate a stronger tie between the world’s two largest democracies, they open up questions about Obama’s other initiatives as well as what this will mean for next steps in ensuring reform.

By publicly announcing U.S. support for entrance into the Security Council, President Obama has made clear that his administration looks favorably upon reform of the Council beyond the current makeup 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members.  Almost since its inception, calls have been made to reform the structure of the Council to better reflect the balance of power in the world.  But changing power dynamics over the past two decades have ramped up the demand for a more representative council.  This reform includes the addition of India to the Council, as India is the second most populated country in the world, and as Obama put it “India is not simply emerging, India has emerged,” as a major power in Asia as well as throughout the globe.  While reform of the Security Council won’t take place overnight, the U.S. example can help garner international support for change.

President Obama also announced the U.S. decision to support India’s membership in multilateral export control regimes, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).  The NSG is a group comprised of 46 supplier states who aim to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes (such as nuclear energy) from being used to make nuclear weapons.   Also, The NSG guidelines require that importing states provide assurances to NSG members that proposed deals will not contribute to the creation of nuclear weapons. 

This visit indicates Obama’s intention to improve the U.S. international reputation as well as to expand international relations by acting inclusively towards other major powers.  However, questions about domestic initiatives are raised by these actions.  Is Obama actually undermining his own nuclear nonproliferation plans by inviting India into the NSG?  A requirement of membership to the group is signing of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which India has not done, and it seems that Obama is willing to make India the exception.  This could ultimately anger other countries, especially Pakistan and China, and delegitimize Obama’s claims to be working towards a nuclear weapon free world.  In addition, it’s great that Obama is publicly calling for Security Council reform and endorsing India is a smart platform for this.  However, Obama didn’t provide an answer of how this will actually be achieved.  What steps will have to be taken to initiate reform and include countries that deserve a say in the decisions of the Council?



In 1945 the Security Council was created to provide security for member nations of the UN, but the veto power of the five permanent members has repeatedly block effective action.

Currently the G20 is made up of nations that have a GDP of 1% or more of global GDP. Some modest changes in the mandate, composition, and decision-making process of the G20 could make it far more effective than the present Security Council. Some suggested changes:

- G20 membership and voting power would be based on the nation's percentage of global GDP with no veto
For example a nation with 3.543% of the global economy would have 3.543 votes in the G20.

- nations with less than 1% of global GDP might elect one or two members to the G20 to represent their views on
a rotating basis

-The G20 could then take over the functions of the current Security Council if just one of the 5 permanent members
announced that it would henceforth veto any actions of the Security Council.

How would you improve on these suggestion?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Citizens for Global Solutions.

Related Campaign

Women and children are often the earliest victims of mass atrocities. Support a code of conduct limiting use of the veto against early intervention in these situations.

Support Our Work

We have a proven track record in making a difference. But we can't build the peaceful future we envision without your support. Become a donor now!