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India inches closer to UN Security Council seat

January 12, 2010 22:43 IST

India inched closer to getting a non-permanent seat on the 15-member UNSC with its sole competitor from Asia, Kazakhstan, backing out of the crucial race.

"We have done very well. The kind of support that India commands is very substantial," a senior diplomat told PTI, with New Delhi enjoying extensive backing among UN member-states 10 months ahead of voting in the General Assembly.

To win, India needs two-thirds of the General Assembly vote, which adds up to about 128 member states supporting it. The voting for the term starting in 2011 will take place in October 2010.

Kazakhstan being a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), an association of 56-Islamic states, was viewed by Indian as a serious competitor since it stood a good chance of getting the votes of a hefty number of Arab and Muslim nations in the General Assembly.

Indian sources in United Nations noted that Astana saw that winning a seat was unlikely and decided to engage their multilateral efforts elsewhere.

"It is important to understand that Kazakhstan withdrew with no ill feelings towards us. It was a friendly competition," the diplomat said.

However, diplomats here cautioned that India has not crossed the finishing line yet.

There is no guarantee that all nations that promise to vote, will end up voting. A late entry in the coming months can also split the votes.

"There are always spoilers so we have to keep the campaign going," diplomatic sources said.

Even before Kazakhstan dropped out, diplomats in United States estimate that 122 votes were in the bag but now that it is the sole runner from Asia, more votes are expected.

Running after more than a decade, India has orchestrated a year-long campaign in New York and at multilateral events at the United Nations.

"It has been a very well led campaign," diplomatic sources said.

The last time India had a seat at the Council was in 1992. In 1996, Japan won with India trailing behind with approximately 40 votes.

While India lost in the nineties, diplomats here feel that India would be a strong competitor against Japan on Tuesday.

"It is very difficult for any Asian country to beat India on Tuesday," sources said.

Last year, the General Assembly elected Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for two-year terms starting on 1 January 2010.

Officials in United Nations underline that not only is it important to win a seat but the world will be watching India's performance at the Security Council table.

"How we conduct ourselves in the election will determine our chances for a permanent seat," according to diplomatic sources. "We will be watched" as India steps up efforts to push for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.

Betwa Sharma in United Nations