Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, maritime security: Key highlights of India’s presidency of UNSC

India on August 31, 2021, completed its ‘critical’ one-month-long rotating presidency of the principal organ of the United Nations, i.e., United Nations Security Council. Throughout its month-long Presidency, New Delhi addressed some of the key global issues including ‘maritime security, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism’. However, the Taliban’s rapid military advance to power and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan remained the key focus of the Council throughout the month.

Earlier on January 1, 2021, India began its eighth term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Prior to this India held the powerful position in the years, 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92, and 2011-12.

Upon the completion of New Delhi’s month-long Presidency tenure, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador T S Tirumurti thanked the members of the UNSC for supporting India’s initiative during the Presidency. He further wished Ireland for their successive term ahead. India had chaired the Security Council last in November 2012.

“As we wind down our Presidency of UN Security Council, we thank all colleagues in UNSC for their tremendous support to make our Presidency a success with many substantive outcomes. I & @IndiaUNNewYork wish incoming Presidency @irishmissionun & Amb Geraldine Nason all success.” Ambassador Tirumurti said.

“@irishmissionun.. we are looking forward to your Presidency in what will be the busiest month at the UN. Best wishes for your key priorities- peacekeeping, climate & security, and more. We pass on the baton,” the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations added.

Key Highlights:

During its Presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the High-level Open Debate on ‘Enhancing Maritime Security- A Case for International Cooperation. Two urgent sessions of the UN Security Council under India’s presidency were also called on to discuss the deteriorating political and human rights situation in Afghanistan.
In line with India’s month-long priority agenda- ‘Peacekeeping’, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar chaired an important briefing on “Protecting the Protectors: Technology and Peacekeeping” on August 18.

As counter-terrorism remained a national priority for India- External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar further on August 19 chaired a briefing to discuss the Secretary- General’s report on ISIL/Da’esh.

Other issues like a briefing on Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Peace & Security situation in Africa were also discussed. A day before the end of India’s UNSC Presidency, Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla chaired the Security Council meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestine Question.

UNSC briefings on the situation in Afghanistan:

The Security Council under India’s Presidency had so far convened two urgent briefings on the security situation in Afghanistan. Earlier on August 30, under India’s presidency, the Council passed a strong resolution on Afghanistan.
“The UN Security Council passed a resolution on Monday that calls for the Taliban to facilitate safe passage for people wanting to leave Afghanistan, allow humanitarians to access the country, and uphold human rights, including for women and children,” the statement reads.

According to the reports, the resolution was tabled by the United States, alongside fellow permanent council members France and United Kingdoms, and was supported by a total of thirteen council members out of fifteen.
However, the permanent members of the Council, Russia, and China abstained from voting.

India’s UNSC journey:

It was not the first time that India had held the non-permanent membership of the powerful United Nations Security Council. Earlier on seven occasions, India had held the position. And so far this was India’s tenth tenure as a Council President.

According to the reports, India for the first time had held the UNSC Presidency in June 1950, which was preceded by stints in Sept. 1967, Dec. 1972, Oct. 1977, Feb. 1985, Oct. 1991, Dec. 1992, Aug. 2011 and Nov. 2012.
1. June 1950- Two resolutions (Republic of Korea)
2. September 1967- No resolution adopted
3. December 1972- Two resolutions (Namibia and Cyprus)
4. October 1977- One resolution (South Africa)
5. February 1985- No resolution adopted
6. October 1991- Four resolutions (Cambodia, Cyprus, Iraq and Kuwait)
7. December 1992- Six resolutions (Somalia, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Mozambique, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Arab territories)
8. August 2011- One resolution (Middle East)
9. November 2012- Six resolutions (Bosnia, Herzegovina, Sudan, Congo and Somalia)

India to again hold the presidency of the Security Council in December 2022.


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