On December 12, 2022 in London, during a meeting of the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, its head, James Cleverly, said that he was in favor of expanding the number of permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) by including Japan, India, Brazil and Germany.
The British diplomat believes that the current world order allows a much larger number of people to live much better than before, but today it needs some changes. According to Cleverly, the UK is interested in reflecting the needs of as many countries as possible in the UN. He also noted that the inclusion of Japan, Brazil, India and Germany would allow London to expand interaction with these countries and thus accelerate the growth of global prosperity.
The British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs said that the established system of international relations, which was approved as a result of the victory of the Allies after the Second World War, is allegedly outdated due to the fact that since 1950 the volume of world trade has increased by about 40 times, which has led to a radical change in the balance of power in the world. Furthermore, he emphasized that demographic changes had also made their own adjustments to the modern world order.
The rhetoric of the British leadership is quite logical. The UK no longer represents the military and economic power that it used to be during the second half of the previous century. London is aware that it needs allies to support it internationally. The countries listed by James Cleverly, which, in his opinion, should become permanent members of the UN Security Council, maintain close relations with the US and the UK and are highly likely to pursue a common policy with London and Washington on many issues.
In accordance with the norms of international law, the UN Charter can be revised only with the unanimous consent of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. France, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and is loyal to the policy pursued by Washington and London, will support the proposal of the UK, however, Russia and China, who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council, may not approve its expansion, as this may upset their geopolitical plans.
Russia welcomes the inclusion of India and Brazil in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council. The Russian Federation has fairly warm relations with these states, and it is unlikely that Moscow will have any international disputes with them in the foreseeable future. Back in 2010, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was serving as Prime Minister of the Russian Federation that year, during a meeting with Indian diplomats, said that India should be included in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council. Subsequently, the Russian president has always adhered to this rhetoric. As for Russian-Brazilian relations, they have always been at a high level, and Lula da Silva, elected for the third time as President of Brazil in October 2022, is known for his pro-Russian views. During the previous presidency of Lula da Silva, the international organization BRICS was created (in 2006), which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Consequently, the Russian Federation is likely to approve the inclusion of Brazil in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council.
However, the Kremlin has a negative stance when it comes to the inclusion of Germany and Japan in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council, since these states are pursuing an unfriendly policy towards Russia, and Tokyo completely casts doubt on the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, claiming control over the Kuril Islands.
It should be noted that the inclusion of Germany, Brazil, Japan and India in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council is not beneficial for China either, since these states maintain good relations with the United States and will adhere to a pro-American position in numerous international disputes.
Germany and Brazil are in close economic relations with London and Washington and therefore, with a high degree of probability, they will act in the interests of the US and the UK if they become permanent members of the UN Security Council. Of course, China will prevent such a development of events.
In China, the memory of Japan’s war crimes against the Chinese population during the Second World War is still fresh. Beijing also disapproves of Tokyo’s pro-American policy and is wary of the impressive number of US military installations in Japan.
Relations between Beijing and New Delhi are also at a fairly low level. India and China are competing for influence in places like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Chinese authorities do not want the strengthening of Indian international influence and will do everything in their power to prevent India from being included in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council.
It is important to emphasize that skirmishes have periodically occurred between Indian and Chinese border guards over the past 45 years. As recently as December 9, 2022, another conflict broke out between the military of China and India along the Indian line of actual control in the Tawang district in the west of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in an area of the disputed territory. As a result of the collision, the military personnel of the two countries were slightly injured.
Despite the rationality of the idea of expanding the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China are unlikely to take such a step. Russia will not vote for granting this privilege to Germany and Japan, which today openly support the Ukrainian army participating in hostilities against the Russian Armed Forces. In turn, China is not interested in increasing the clout in the international arena of Tokyo and New Delhi, which are on cool terms with Beijing. Also, China will not give an opportunity to Germany and Brazil to become permanent members of the UN Security Council since both countries sympathize with the policies of the states of the Western bloc. As noted above, without the unanimous consent of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, changes in the norms of international law are impossible.
The West is pursuing its own interests and engaging in geopolitical confrontation with China through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), which includes Australia, the US, Japan and India. Within the framework of this organization, annual military exercises of the participating countries are held.
On May 24, 2022, a QUAD summit was held in Tokyo, the main agenda of which, according to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, was to discuss how to counter the growth of China’s influence in East and Southeast Asia.
As it stands now, there will be no expansion in the number of countries that are permanent members of the UN Security Council any time soon, since this comes into conflict with the plans of several current permanent members of the UN Security Council. However, the absence of Japan and India in the UN Security Council is offset by their participation in the QUAD, as well as their close cooperation with the United States in the field of defense.
Petr Konovalov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”