The UK government has reiterated its call for reform of the United Nations as one of its top transnational priorities and supported India’s bid for permanent membership of the powerful Security Council.
India has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the UN Security Council (UNSC), saying it rightly deserved a place as a permanent member of the United Nations.
Currently, the UNSC has five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US. Only a permanent member has the power to veto any substantive resolution.
In a speech at a conference at the Chatham House think tank in London on Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called for a reinvigorated multilateral system that is more reflective of the times.
He pointed out that the world’s economic centre of gravity is shifting away from the Euro-Atlantic and towards the Indo-Pacific but the multilateral institutions are yet to catch up.
“I have five transnational priorities. First, reform of the United Nations Security Council. We want to see permanent African representation and membership extended to India, Brazil, Germany and Japan,” said Cleverly.
“I know this is a bold reform. But it will usher the Security Council into the 2020s. And the UNSC has grown before – albeit not since 1965. My second priority is reform of the international financial institutions. This matters for climate finance and, of course, for poverty reduction,” he said.
The minister also hailed India’s leadership role with its presidency of the G20 in pitching for representation of poorer nations on the world stage.
“It seems obvious to me that the voice of the poorest and most vulnerable countries must be heard at the heart of the multilateral system. That’s why we support permanent membership of the G20 for the African Union and welcome India’s leadership on taking this forward,” he said.
Among the other priorities for the UK, Cleverly highlighted making finance easier and quicker to access and maximise the impact of that investment.
He also stressed that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) desperately needs new rules that reflect today’s digital economy to make trade policy “free, fair, open and not manipulated or distorted”.
He spelt out another top priority as artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing have the potential to transform humankind’s problem-solving capabilities.
“I will chair the UN Security Council’s first-ever meeting on this issue, in New York next month. And the Prime Minister [Rishi Sunak] will host an AI summit this autumn,” said Cleverly.