Obama Supports Permanent U.N. Security Council Seat for India
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington - President Obama expressed U.S. support for India to gain a permanent seat on a reformed United Nations Security Council in the years ahead as part of a "just and sustainable international order" that the United States is working to build.
Speaking November 8 to a joint session of the Indian parliament in New Delhi, Obama said the United States "not only welcomes India as a rising global power, we fervently support it, and we have worked to help make it a reality."
India will begin serving a two-year term as one of 10 nonpermanent members of the Security Council on January 1, and President Obama said that as part of seeking an "efficient, effective, credible and legitimate" United Nations, "in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."
But the president also told Indian lawmakers that "with increased power comes increased responsibility," and he urged India and other aspiring Security Council members to ensure that the U.N. body is effective, its resolutions are implemented and enforced, and that "we strengthen the international norms which recognize the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all individuals."
He said global leadership requires countries to promote shared prosperity, preserve peace and security, and strengthen democratic governance and human rights.
India and the United States can work together to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and secure the world's most vulnerable nuclear materials, he said. "We can make it clear that even as every nation has the right to peaceful nuclear energy, every nation must also meet its international obligations - and that includes the Islamic Republic of Iran. And together, we can pursue a vision that Indian leaders have espoused since independence: a world without nuclear weapons."
With its 700 million voters, thousands of political parties and millions of candidates and poll workers, India can also lead by sharing its political expertise with countries that are transitioning to democracy, Obama said.
"As the world's two largest democracies, we must never forget that the price of our own freedom is standing up for the freedom of others," Obama said. Citing Burma's sham November 7 elections as an example, the president urged India to speak out on the world stage on behalf of human rights.
"Speaking up for those who cannot do so for themselves is not interfering in the affairs of other countries. It's not violating the rights of sovereign nations. It is staying true to our democratic principles. It is giving meaning to the human rights that we say are universal. And it sustains the progress that in Asia and around the world has helped turn dictatorships into democracies and ultimately increased our security in the world," he said.
India has succeeded "not in spite of democracy," but "because of democracy," Obama said, and it has "surmounted overwhelming odds and became a model to the world" by building a strong, free and entrepreneurial society on the foundation of its ancient civilization.
"Instead of slipping into starvation, you launched a Green Revolution that fed millions. Instead of becoming dependent on commodities and exports, you invested in science and technology and in your greatest resource - the Indian people. And the world sees the results, from the supercomputers you build to the Indian flag that you put on the moon," the president said.
The United States and India now stand together as "two great republics dedicated to the liberty and justice and equality of all people," and that support free-market economies that allow their citizens the freedom to pursue ideas and innovations.
"And that's why I believe that India and America are indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time," the president said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)