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Diplomatic Fallout: Frustrations Mount for India at the U.N.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Five Indian soldiers serving with the United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan were killed in an ambush last week that also left seven civilian U.N. staff dead and four more troops wounded. Such casualties are grimly familiar for the Indian army, which has lost more personnel on blue helmet missions than any other country’s military. But the attack capped off a difficult few weeks for India at the U.N., marked by diplomatic disputes over the rules of peacekeeping and the new Arms Trade Treaty. Cumulatively, these episodes may reinforce doubts about New Delhi’s commitment to the U.N. system.

Although Indian officials argue that their country has been dedicated to the U.N. since the days of Nehru, their current attitude to the organization is characterized by a mixture of ambition and ambivalence. They yearn for the status and leverage of a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Yet they remain wary of submitting to multilateral arrangements -- such as the nonproliferation treaty, which India has never signed -- that could reduce their freedom to build up their national defenses. ...

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