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Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar on Monday made a strong case for reformed multilateralism, including a revamp of the United Nations stating that its credibility and effectiveness were being called into question because of its “narrow" leadership.

Most people associated the UN with multilateralism, Jaishankar said at the opening session of the Global Technology Summit organized by the Indian chapter of the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in collaboration with the Indian foreign ministry.

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“The UN is the brand name of multilateralism," the minister said, pointing out that the institution was 75 years old. “The problem we have today about narrow representation at the leadership levels of the UN is in many ways a challenge to its credibility and its effectiveness," he said.

“You do need reformed multilateralism. You need to make it representative. You refresh your phone regularly. Someone needs to press that refresh button on the UN," Jaishankar said.

The minister was referring to the composition of the powerful UN Security Council, the decision-making body of the UN, which has Britain, France, China, Russia, and the US as permanent members with veto powers. The body, which also has 10 non-permanent members elected by member states by rotation and stay part of the UNSC for a two-year term without a veto, has largely remained unchanged since it came into existence in 1945. The five veto-wielding members are seen as unwilling to share power with other countries such as India, Japan, Germany, and Brazil who have been making a serious pitch to make the UNSC more representative of current realities.

Jaishankar criticized countries that he said blocked efforts at reforms. The veiled attack was against China, which has reportedly expressed concerns over Japan’s bid to secure a permanent seat. This position of China was “unfair on the world", the minister said. It was “particularly unfair on Africa", which with more than 50 countries, was not represented in the UNSC, he said.

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