India has stressed Africa’s right to representation among the ranks of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) in an effort to bring in a sense of urgency to the long-stalled reform process.

“We must take action so that Africa is given a central and leading role in an internationally formed new order especially in a reformed and expanded Security Council and so that the Council reflects the world of today and not of 1945,” Sanjay Rana, Joint Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry, said on Wednesday at the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.

“The reform of the peace and security pillar of the UN, the Security Council, has perhaps been the most important and yet stagnating process of the General Assembly,” he said. “We must take action towards early reform.”

Putting the focus on Africa’s right to permanent membership is a strategy for India to break the decades-long blockade of the reform process by a small group of countries. This group led by Italy and which includes Pakistan will be made to directly confront African nations, who have demanded two permanent seats on a reformed Council and point to the historic injustices done to the continent.

The 55 African nations, who are the single largest group at the UN making up more than a quarter of its membership, do not have a permanent member on the Council. Yet of the 13 UN peacekeeping operations mandated by the Council and overseen by it, seven are in Africa.

When the UN was set up at the end World War II, the permanent seats were allocated to the five victors – the US, Soviet Union (now held by Russia), Britain, France and China – and, therefore, does not reflect the 21st-century realities.

Breaking the logjam would allow India’s claim to a permanent seat on a reformed Council to also move forward.

Rana said that “multilateralism crisis today” and the debate on it will continue to be challenging. “But we will need to commit ourselves at every step of this process.”

While some are hung up on preserving the status quo of the multilateral frameworks, “the majority of this Assembly believes that reform is the only way forward on this path,” he said.

The high-level meeting was convened by Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa formally to commemorate the First International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace on Thursday.

She said the world is becoming more polarised and fragmented as extreme nationalism grows.

“We must end the false concept that multilateralism undermines the sovereignty of States when in fact it bolsters sovereignty.”

It was because of the legacy of multilateralism the world has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Espinosa added.