Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the United Nations faces a “crisis of confidence” and reiterated India’s long-standing call for reform at the world body to reflect “today’s realities” and “give voice to all stakeholders”. India has sought a permanent seat in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council.
The prime minister was participating in a virtual high-level meeting of the UN general assembly to mark the 75th anniversary of the global body. He is scheduled to deliver his speech at the High-Level General Debate of the assembly on Saturday, as the opening speaker of the day.
“We cannot fight today’s challenges with outdated structures,” Modi said in a short address in English.
“Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence. For today’s interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities, gives voice to all stake holders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare.”
He recounted that India was a founding signatory of the UN that was born out of the “horrors” of World War II and shared India’s own “philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’”, which states the whole world is one family.
“Our world today is a better place because of the United Nations,” Modi said. “We pay tribute to all those who have advanced the cause of peace and development under the UN flag, including in UN peacekeeping missions, where India had been a leading contributor.”
But, he added, “while much has been achieved, the original mission remains incomplete”, which was to be reflected in the declaration of the General Assembly, to be adopted at the end of the one-day commemorative meeting.
It would argue that more is needed to be done towards preventing conflict, ensuring development, addressing climate change, reducing inequality and leveraging digital technologies.
It would also acknowledge “need for reform of the United Nations itself”, Modi added.
India and many other countries have called for reforming the UN, arguing it must reflect the changing world order and accommodate the aspirations of emerging powers.
Several countries including India have sought permanent membership in the Security Council, the world’s most exclusive club of nations, as part of a larger overhaul.
The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Russia — four of the five permanent members of the Security Council — have endorsed India, but there has been no real progress in the process, called the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN), which has been on for a long time.
India has “accorded the highest priority to permanent membership”, the ministry of external affairs said on Monday in a parliamentary reply. And it has pursed it on both bilateral and multilateral platforms, especially in concert with other aspirants such as G-4 partners Japan, Germany and Brazil and the trilateral IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa).
IBSA foreign ministers met last week virtually for their annual meeting around the UN general assembly sessions, and expressed “frustration with the slow pace of progress” on Security Council reforms in the IGN process which, they complained, “lacked transparency in its working methods”.
“We insist that the time has come to move towards a result-oriented process, with provision for substantive negotiations based on a single comprehensive text, in a formal setting,” they said in a joint statement, underscoring the need for some form of a document that can be negotiated, modified or rejected.
India will begin a two-year term on the Security Council coming January as a non-permanent member, for the eighth time. It hopes to use the opportunity to further burnish its credentials for a seat as a permanent member. Its previous non-permanent terms were 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985 and 1991-1992.
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