Bhandari’s re-election: India bid to break UN ‘glass ceiling’
New Delhi: The stalemate over the Dalveer Bhandari election to the UN’s International Court of Justice has underscored two things — first, the unstoppable shift of power to countries like India and second, the reluctance of the earlier regime to accept the change.
In the 70 years of the UN’s existence, never has a candidate belonging to the elite P5 group been absent from the court. The battle between the last two candidates left in the field, Dalveer Bhandari of India and Christopher Greenwood of the UK is symptomatic of this global tension. After the last round of balloting, Bhandari logged 121 votes in the UN general assembly, moving up from 116 in the last round, a tribute to India’s sustained multilateral diplomacy. Greenwood’s numbers were reduced from 76 to 68. However in the UNSC, India lags five votes to Greenwood’s nine with one abstention.
The numbers at the UNSC have remained unchanged and are important for a couple of things. First, India has not lost the support it has already gathered, and second, the P5 are unlikely to abandon one of their own.
PM Modi has kept up a sustained campaign for Bhandari’s re-election, having raised it at various summit meetings with key UNSC members. But as India discovered during the NSG admission process, breaking the status quo will remain an uphill task for some time to come. The process moves to a consultation for the next round to break the deadlock. Officials there said there is a provision for a “joint conference”, though nobody is clear how they will resolve this. In order to be elected to ICJ, a candidate must obtain simple majority in the both the organs of the UN. That is, a successful candidate must get 97 votes in the general assembly and eight votes in the UNSC.
In normal circumstances, the evident momentum in Bhandari’s favour should have been able to swing one or two UNSC votes. But the have not budged from positions. But the very fact that India, a non-P5, has prevented a sweep by the UK tells of an unfolding inevitability — if not Bhandari, India has shown that the P5 glass ceiling cannot possibly sustain for too long.