The United Nations will turn 70 in 2015. But the world body is increasingly looking like a relic of the past and is badly in need of reform to stay relevant amid the ceaseless flux in geopolitics in the 21st century. Amid the defining shift of power from the west to the rest and the emergence of India on the global stage, the case for the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council has become all the more urgent. In his maiden address at the UNGA, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a robust pitch for reform of the UNSC to “make it more democratic and participative.” “Institutions that reflect the imperatives of 20th century won’t be effective in the 21st century. The world in the 21st century has changed and will be changing at a faster pace. It becomes imperative that we formulate according to the changing times and new ideas of 21st century to sustain our relevance,” Mr Modi told delegates at the 69th session of the UNGA.
In this free-wheeling interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) in New York, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukherji speaks about India’s strategy for accelerating the reform of the UNSC, the enthusiastic support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the powerful council and the way ahead on Prime Minister Modi’s initiative to get the UN to designate an International Yoga Day.
(Excerpts from the interview)
Q) In his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly September 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a compelling case for accelerating the reform of Security Council and set September 2015 as the deadline. How realistic is the target and has the process acquired a critical mass?
A) The process of reform has acquired a critical mass because in the last round of intergovernmental negotiations, the maximum number of countries participated and put forward all their views on the five big issues connected to the UN Security council reforms. From November, when we start work in the General Assembly intergovernmental negotiations, the time has come to build on this critical mass and move from negotiations to a conclusion. It is our intention to be constructive in the negotiations, enter into a give-and-take, and end up with a result in 2015.
Q) Looking ahead, what is India’s strategy to make the September 2015 deadline work?
A) The strategy is linked with cooperation of all member countries who are engaged on this issue, to enable us to negotiate a text. In the process of negotiating a text, each country will be able to very clearly explain what its interests are. Once we know that the issue can we addressed in a concrete way — right now the problem is every country is giving a philosophical view — at that time, we would be coming to a more technical or legal perspective.
Q) This address by Prime Minister Modi also marked his global outing, in a manner of speaking? What is the response to the Prime Minister’s speech and the broad themes outlined in his speech?
A) The response was phenomenal because the number of delegates who stood in that line to great him after his speech stretched for so long that most people in the United Nations could not remember having seen such a long line. Secondly, his speech was structured in such a way that it appealed to all sections of the delegations represented in the hall; so you found at the end a groundswell of support and understanding for India’s point of view, as articulated by the prime minister.
Q) This is the first time an Indian prime minister has proposed a novel initiative for an International Yoga day. In his discussion with the leaders of some South Asian countries, he got their support as well. What is the underlying idea behind the Yoga Day? Have you been working on this for long?
A) We have been working on this issue in terms of what the prime minister called a holistic approach and harmonious living, in which the International Day of Yoga has been put forward. While we are talking of the health of the external environment it is also important to talk of the health of the individual; that is where the yoga initiative comes from, and we have already started discussions with more than four dozen countries who are supportive of this and the intention is to build up the support to end with a consensus declaring an International Day of Yoga on June 21 by the United Nations General Assembly.
Q) On the sidelines of the UNGA, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met more than 2-3 dozen ministers, and the theme of UNSC reform must have figured in those discussions as well. Also, she met a lot of African ministers. What is the general response to our candidature for a permanent seat in the UNSC?
A) The response has been clearly put forward in the joint communique of issued after these meetings. There is a common interest in successfully negotiating the issue of the early reform of the Security Council because the world changed. And the Security Council needs to be reformed to be credible and relevant to reflect the realities of the 21st century.
- India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) is an emerging think tank and a media-publishing company focused on international affairs & the India Story. A venture of TGII Media Private Limited, a leading media, publishing and consultancy company, IWN has carved a niche for balanced and exhaustive reporting and analysis of international affairs. Eminent personalities, politicians, diplomats, authors, strategy gurus and news-makers have contributed to India Writes Network, as also “India and the World,” a magazine focused on global affairs. The Global Insights India (TGII) is the research arm of India Writes Network. To subscribe to India and the World, write to email@example.com
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