We commend your initiatives of establishing the NAM Contact Group and Task Force in response to COVID-19, and of proposing the convening of a special UN General Assembly virtual session on COVID-19. You have India’s support in these efforts. We are also meeting in a year of shared milestones: the United Nations turns 75 years old this year. This year also marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark Bandung Conference that resulted in the adoption of the founding principles of the Non Aligned Movement. Over the decades, these core principles have served as anchors in the political and socio-economic journeys of many of our nations. These principles have helped us overcome immense challenges such as colonialism and apartheid, and are today reflected in our steadfast support to the cause of Palestine. Today, as we contend with yet another grave challenge, it is these very principles of solidarity and cooperation that will guide the way.
COVID-19 has reminded us of our interconnectedness, and dependence on each other. We cannot fight this adversary alone. It is the people of our countries that stand to be hardest hit by this pandemic and its consequences. Just as this disease does not respect borders, our fight against it must be coordinated to be effective. We must work to reduce the socio-economic impact of this pandemic on the most vulnerable sections of our society. NAM’s unique tradition of promoting South-South cooperation can provide a way out as societies look to rebuild and regenerate in the wake of this crisis.
This was also the key message that Prime Minister Modi conveyed to the Movement when he participated in the Online Summit of the NAM Contact Group in response to COVID-19 held in May this year. He emphasized the importance of a coordinated, inclusive and equitable response by the world to this crisis, reaffirming India’s readiness to offer assistance in solidarity with the Movement. Just a few days ago, at the General Debate of the 75th UNGA, he assured the world that India’s immense vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting the crisis. This is a manifestation of the approach that will guide India as it takes up its responsibilities of non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in 2021-22, and Presidency of the G20 in 2022: deploying our rich developmental experience for the peace and welfare of humanity, treating the world as one family.
Unfortunately, this pandemic is not the only pressing challenge of our time. The theme of our meeting and Declaration today compels us to introspect on how NAM can more effectively counter global threats which surpass our individual capacities. Terrorism and their enablers continue to spread their tentacles unabated. Misinformation and fake news are wreaking havoc on social cohesion and collective security. Climate change has become an existential threat, especially to the most vulnerable SIDS countries. Humanitarian emergencies are straining capacities. Cyber security threats and the uneven impact of frontier technologies are causing turbulence. Development concerns remain paramount for the vast majority of the world’s population.
The strength of the NAM family lies in its diversity, its shared developmental experience, and its youthful populations brimming with hope and aspirations. NAM has the potential to take the lead in addressing the primary issues of our times that demand global cooperation. When we stand together and speak in one voice, for instance in our Movement’s steadfast commitment to the cause of Palestine, we can and do have a decisive influence on global outcomes – we can be a force for good. On the other hand, if we take up issues that divide rather than unite us, reducing our Movement to a platform for venting bilateral grievances or for embarrassing fellow Members, we will soon become a weak and irrelevant entity, with no say at all in global decision making.
Individual members must stop and think before raising issues that are not on the agenda and which find no resonance in the wider membership. NAM never was and never can be a platform for pursuits aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of a State by another State. The 65th anniversary is a good time to reflect. Even as we call for effective and reformed multilateralism, we need to introspect, reform and revitalize the current arrangements of our own Movement, to enable us to pursue a focused, positive and transformative agenda going forward. We live in times when more, and not less, collaborative efforts are needed. The NAM has a glorious past. However, how the future will judge us will depend on how we perform in addressing the defining challenges of our era.
Statement by Minister of State for External Affairs at the 75th United Nations General Assembly Ministerial Meeting of the Non Aligned Movement October 09, 2020
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