As the UN Security Council prepares for the next stage in the crisis over Iraq, the debate on reform and expansion goes on.
With permanent members able to veto any Council decision, the system has been criticised for being undemocratic and ineffective, with the few powerful members balanced in favour of the industrialised North.
Last year India called for faster expansion by including developing countries in order to ensure the Council's more representative character.
As the largest democracy, with a population of more than a billion, the country is a strong candidate for permanent membership of the Council.
But could India ever be a UN Security Council member? Whose views does the Security Council represent?
A World Today debate on this subject was broadcast on BBC World Service Radio on Thursday 27 February.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
India, with its large population and vibrant democracy, should be the strongest candidate for a Security Council membership. But is there a political will, particularly in the USA to honour the largest democracy with what should rightfully be theirs in the light of the fact that India would not be a mere pushover or a "Yes Sir" kind of a nation?
Is there a political will?
Dr Sambhu Panikkar, India
Dr Sambhu Panikkar, India
If the Security Council is to be made more representative, the way to do so is not by simply including another country. The only way forward is to have countries representing blocs in the council, such as the country currently holding the presidency of the EU instead of France and Britain, the country heading the Non-Aligned Movement, the country heading the Organisation of Islamic countries, etc.
The Security Council wasn't meant to be "truly representative", it was meant to be comprised of the countries with the ability to maintain international order. India is a long way from having that kind of power.
Shawn, Eugene, OR -USA
In an age of democracy, why have this Security Council with 5 permanent members who hold the rest of the world at gunpoint! We should get rid of the Security Council and have equal rights for all countries. It is high time the UN idea was reformed.
It is high time the UN idea was reformed
Jonathan D'Souza, UK
The EU should have one permanent representative on the Security Council. So should India, so should Brazil and so should Indonesia. Objections from other countries on the basis of human rights abuses are often the pot calling the kettle black. Let's not forget that the current chair of the UN Human Rights Commission is held by Libya!
G R Chambers, Luxembourg
Countries like India should be allowed on the Security Council while European votes should be merged (and the veto powers should either be removed or it should be possible to overturn a veto with a 2/3 majority)
At the moment the 'western world' is overrepresented while the rest is underrepresented. It would be nice to see the champions of democracy, as they like to be called, make some steps towards real democracy on a world scale.
Stefan Castille, Belgium/Sweden
Firstly, the UN is a talking shop, so who cares one way or the other? It has no real power. Secondly, India has been as stable as any other current member of the Security Council, so why not?
The Third World and
it comes to policy
at the UN Security
with the absolute and
imperative veto power
of the permanent
members. The inclusion of India is
necessary in order to
promote balance of
power and interests
industrial nations and developing nations in the world's legislative body. And India's permanent membership in the Security Council will more aggressively champion the causes of nations from South Asia, Africa, South America and others with growing, social, economic and political challenges India could identify with.
Third World and
it comes to policy
A country which is or has been in the recent past, not just involved in conflicts, but wars with nearly all its neighbours, (China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh) should never be allowed a seat in UN.
If India is ever given a permanent seat that may well be the end of UN Security Council.
The Security Council may not be the most representative body in the world but changing its framework would destroy the UN. India may be a logical candidate but try asking Pakistan or China that question. Eliminating the veto power would be nice but what happens when the nations with the resources disagree on a decision. Could the third world force Russia or the US to employ resources for something they disagree with? The Security Council may be an imperfect organization but it limps along. Any restructuring of it would make the debate on Iraq look like a tea party.
The UN Security Council is made up of the nations who won WWII and France. Isn't it about time the UN Security Council tried to reflect the world of today rather than the world of 1945? A world in which India is a very important player.
Inna Tysoe, USA
The current Security Council structure is rooted very much in the Cold War past. It is hard to justify the arrangement in the absence of that conflict. India has nearly 20 times the population of permanent members France and the UK. Excluding them for much longer will certainly reduce the credibility of the body. However I would very much like to see a resolution to the Kashmir situation before India is offered a seat.
I think that India should replace France on the UN Security Council. India is the world's largest democracy, the world's largest Hindu nation and the world's second-largest Muslim nation and perhaps one of the few nations that understand that foreign policy calls for more than anti-Americanism.
India should replace France on the UN Security Council
Inna Tysoe, USA
Why not? What criteria would impair the admission of India to the UN Security Council? I don't see any.
I think that India should replace France on the UN Security Council. Such a move would mean that there would be two European permanent members of the Security Council, one North American member, one Asian member and one South Asian member. The Security Council of the United Nations could then look like the nations it represents.
Inna Tysoe, USA
I don't think that admitting India as a permanent member of the Security Counsel would be a bad idea. India has become an important player in world events and could represent Southern Asia. I'm not sure that they would do a good job of representing the developing countries of Africa, Latin America or the Muslim world.
India being a violator of UN Security Council resolutions by denying the right of self-determination to Jammu and Kashmir has no right to claim its permanent membership. Let's not forget this point.
John Arsal, USA
India being a violater of UN Security Council resolutions by denying the right of self-determination to Jammu and Kashmir has no right to claim its permanent membership. Let's not forget this point.
John Arsal, USA
India should not be allowed such a privilege until its resolves all the major disputes with its neighbours. How can India hope to resolve world disputes when it cannot resolve its own? More then 20% of world population is Muslim and almost 30% of UN members are Muslim countries. There has to be a Muslim representative country on the Security Council to make it truly representative. Pakistan is an ideal country to represent the Muslim world.
India being as diverse as it is, democratic, with 1/6th of the worlds population and its longstanding contribution to UN, should not be ignored. It seems the character of the UNSC is more representative of economics than anything else - but it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore India in the economic sphere as well. Whether it will become a permanent member depends on how keen the powerful are to share their power.
Pranay Manocha, UK, India
I am humbled and overwhelmed by so much support for India. Thank you people. If UN wants pure democracy, all countries should have equal say. Why allow 10-15 countries to decide for 180 countries? Why allow some countries to have a veto power? Who decides that? As we see now 15 rich countries decide a war when 150 countries oppose it and who cares. Rich countries bribe small countries to get their UN vote. This is not democracy. I would suggest UN should be a forum for equals among equals. Simple 2/3rd majority voting, where all member countries vote and decide.
The Security Council must be elected by nations, then only it will be truly representative.
M Khalid Khan, India/UK
If India are given the permanent membership, then what about Pakistan? This will disturb the balance between two nuclear powers or should all the nuclear countries be given equal powers at the Security Council?
The UN Security Council long has been used as a stage to demonstrate the 'Will' of the 'Civilized West'. It is time now for it to take a more human face and become a forum that truly represents the voices of the larger majority. India is the right candidate at this point in time when religion is the cause of most troubles across the globe. The country has had its share of religious turmoil but has emerged a winner and the world needs to recognise that and learn from it.
India is the right candidate at this point in time
Dhruv Sawhney, Ireland
Considering 1/5th of the world's population is Muslim, it strikes me odd to see that they have no permanent member with veto powers. Any country that has ignored or not implemented UN resolutions, should never be accepted on the Security Council. That rules out India. Pakistan or Indonesia should be made permanent members with veto power.
Imran, England, UK
How can anyone suggest India should have a permanent seat in the Security Council? The so called "biggest democracy" has one on the worst human rights records.
The United Nations is a complete waste of time. As long as countries ignore the UN resolutions, the question to ask is "whether or not it is a viable body and representative of world opinion?" Israel, Pakistan, N.Korea, Nigeria and Iraq to name but a few have all rejected UN resolutions in one way or another. The US itself is in violation of many world security issues. In fact isn't the UN really a talking shop for the US? Move the UN away from the US and perhaps people might take it seriously.
A. Pearce, England
In my humble opinion a country who does not respect the UN resolutions over Kashmir should not be allowed to become a member of UN council.