India pressed for dialogue

Posted By: Anita Mamgai Posted On: Dec 31, 2023
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United Nations, Dec 31 (PTI) As wars and conflicts raged around the world this year, India pressed for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve them and gave a consistent clarion call for reformed multilateralism amid failures by a polarised UN Security Council to maintain international peace.

India, which became the world's most populous country in 2023, emerged as the voice of the Global South as it presided over the G20, the grouping of the world's largest economies, throughout the year.

At a time when the world, as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar pointed out, was witnessing sharp East-West polarisation and deep North-South divides, India brought its G20 thematic message of ‘One Earth, One family, One Future' to the global stage, including at the United Nations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leading an unprecedented Yoga Day celebration at the UN headquarters on June 21, urged the international community to “use the power of Yoga to build bridges of friendship”, a peaceful world, and a cleaner, greener and sustainable future.

“Let us join hands together to realise the goal of - ‘One Earth, One family, One Future',” Modi said as he led the historic yoga session at the expansive North Lawn in the UN headquarters, nine years after he had first proposed from the UN General Assembly podium to mark International Yoga Day as an annual commemoration.

India's call for unity and adherence to diplomacy and dialogue to find effective solutions to crises was also reiterated by Jaishankar at the annual high-level UN General Assembly session in September.

Greeting global leaders from the iconic UNGA lectern with ‘Namaste from Bharat', Jaishankar said the world was witnessing an exceptional period of turmoil and stresses have been aggravated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and repercussions of ongoing conflicts, tensions and disputes.

“At this juncture, it was with a sense of exceptional responsibility that India took up the Presidency of the G20. Our vision of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future' sought to focus on the key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few,” Jaishankar said.

The G20 Summit in Delhi affirmed that "diplomacy and dialogue are the only effective solutions. The international order is diverse and we must cater for divergences, if not differences. The days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over," Jaishankar told world leaders.

Jaishankar highlighted that the Summit of the Future to be hosted in September next year by the United Nations should serve as a “serious opportunity to drive change, champion fairness and reform multilateralism, including the expansion of the Security Council memberships.

The calls for reforming multilateral institutions such as the UN and particularly the Security Council came from the highest echelons of the world body when Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave a clarion call to reform the powerful 15-nation UN organ “in line with the world of today” and based on equity.

The UN chief told world leaders at the high-level UNGA session that the Council reflects the political and economic realities of 1945 and risks becoming part of the problem instead of solving it.

"Our world is becoming unhinged. Geopolitical tensions are rising. Global challenges are mounting. And we seem incapable of coming together to respond,” Guterres said.

"I have no illusions. Reforms are a question of power. I know there are many competing interests and agendas. But the alternative to reform is not the status quo. The alternative to reform is further fragmentation. It's reform or rupture,” he said.

The failure of the Security Council to act in times of global crises was sharply evident during the Ukraine conflict and yet again in the aftermath of the October 7 terror attacks in Israel by Hamas.

India voiced deep concern over the deteriorating security situation and large-scale loss of civilian life in the latest Israel-Palestine conflict and urged the parties to work towards creating conditions necessary for peace and restarting direct negotiations through de-escalation and ending violence.

The Council's failure to act on multiple occasions towards achieving a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza war, due to vetoes cast by permanent members, again raised concerns and questions about its effectiveness in dealing with crises and underlined the need for urgent reforms.

Guterres invoked Article 99, a rare and “dramatic constitutional move” under the United Nations Charter to appeal to the Security Council for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and to avert a "humanitarian catastrophe,” which he said has potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians and peace and security in the region.

This was the first time that Guterres invoked Article 99 of the Charter since he became UN Secretary-General in 2017. Article 99 states that “the Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that as a member of the Global South, India shares “its collective angst that on issues of core concern to the South, we have no voice at the high table.”

In a scathing criticism of the present composition of the UN's top organ, Kamboj said the Security Council of yesterday is “always late today” and questioned whether 1945's “security plumbing” will work in the year 2023.

“If the trillion dollar question is to ensure peace, do we have a peace infrastructure representative of the current times and contemporary realities?” Kamboj said.

Kamboj questioned whether 2023 is the new 1945, referring to the year when the powerful UN body came into existence.

She said that during the annual high-level UNGA session in September this year, there were “unequivocal calls” for comprehensive and meaningful reforms from more than 85 global leaders.

“These calls must be answered. We must all realise that the clock is ticking, and turning the other way in the face of global challenges is just not an option…Multilateral institutions rarely die, they simply fade into irrelevance,” Kamboj said.

The G4 nations of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan also said that these days, the world is “faced with a proliferation of crises that dramatically impact international peace and security. More than ever, we need a representative and well-functioning Security Council to fulfil its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. To make progress towards that goal is our responsibility.”

Amid deep divisions and inaction at the world body, India underlined messages of unity, bridging divides and sustainability - from the commemoration of International Yoga Day that created a Guinness World Record for the participation of people of most nationalities to the promotion of millets after the year 2023 was designated as 'International Year of Millets'.

Guterres, who attended the G20 Leaders' Summit hosted in Delhi in September, voiced concern that people are suffering, the world is hurting and the planet is burning.

"India's G20 Presidency reminded us that we are one earth and one family with one future. So let's act like it,” the UN chief said.

Source: Hindustan Times
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