How can ‘unrepresentative’ UNSC deter crimes against humanity: India


By Arul Louis,

United Nations : Expressing skepticism at the way the Security Council deals with outrageous crimes against humanity, India has questioned how such a “grossly unrepresentative” body can act effectively to prevent them.


Participating in a General Assembly debate on Monday on “The Responsibility to Protect: Prevention of Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing and Crimes against Humanity”, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin took the opportunity to make the case for reform of the Security Council, which is the body under the UN Charter than can order interventions in countries in such cases.

He said: “What happens if such a body is grossly unrepresentative of the wider international community and contemporary global realities.”

“What happens if the record of such a body in addressing common challenges, and consequently its legitimacy is in serious question.”

“The current system of collective international security that is sought to be enforced through the UN Security Council cannot isolate the implementation of a concept such as the Responsibility to Protect from double standards, selectivity, arbitrariness and misuse for political gains,” he added

Akbaruddin said that a common definitions of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity should be developed impartially, and what will qualify as a trigger for action by the international community and who should act must be agreed upon.

“While Responsibility to Protect, at its core, has an appeal as a ‘noble cause’, its usage has only been selective in the context of a wider geo-strategic balance of power among competing players or groups,” he said.

“Experience shows that the implementation of the notion of Responsibility to Protect so as to prevent, or stop major internal abuses within a state has been used to frame or justify interventions by external powers in several instances,” he said.

In an implied criticism of the US interventions in Iraq and elsewhere, he said without naming it, “Many such interventions have left entire regions destabilised and have been perceived, often rightly, to have been undertaken to further the strategic interests of certain powers.”

On the other hand because of a “lack of strategic interest of some or worse because their specific interests do not allow any change in status quo,” he said “there have arguably been other instances, both well-known or otherwise, where major abuses have been committed or continue to be committed with impunity.”

(Arul Louis can be reached at



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