With international norms under attack and the pandemic unleashing death and devastation across the world as a backdrop, India is poised for its eighth innings in the UN Security Council with the mantra of NORMS – New Orientation Towards Reformed Multilateralism – and a new resolve to shape an inclusive global agenda to spur innovative solutions to trans-national challenges.
The overwhelming victory of India in the contest for a non-permanent seat to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2021-22 biennium has triggered much rejoicing in the country’s strategic circles amid grim news about a raging pandemic and escalating India-China tensions.
Setting the tone for India’s two-year tenure in UNSC which begins on January 1, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “We will work with all member countries to promote peace, security, resilience and equity.” India was elected unopposed as it was the sole candidate for the Asia-Pacific seat.
In its best-ever performance in the UN election, India won 184 votes in the 193-strong General Assembly, which surpassed the qualifying 2/3rds majority of 128 votes by a wide margin. “India will become a member of the Security Council at a critical juncture and we are confident that in the COVID, and the post-COVID world, India will continue to provide leadership and a new orientation for a reformed multilateral system,” said India’s U.N. Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti said in a video message.
“The strong support by almost the entire UN Membership for India’s election demonstrates the goodwill that India enjoys in the UN and the confidence that the international community has reposed in India’s capability to contribute to the work of the Council,” said Vikas Swarup, Secretary (West) in India’s Ministry of External Affairs..
“We will act as a voice of reason and moderation and a firm believer in respect for international law and peaceful settlement of disputes. In fact, India has all the credentials to serve on the UN Security Council,” said Mr Swarup in New Delhi.
Enhancing counter-terror cooperation will be one of India’s main priorities in the UNSC. “India will work to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, which will be one of the priorities during its membership of UN Security Council during 2021-22”, said Mr Swarup. “India will also work to improve and depoliticise the system of sanctioning terrorists,” he said.
Underlining India’s overarching focus on reforming multilateralism, Mr Swarup, also a well-known author, alluded to PM Modi’s dynamic 5-S vision for foreign policy, which includes: Samman (Respect); Samvad (Dialogue); Sahyog (Cooperation; Shanti (Peace); and to create conditions for universal Samriddhi (Prosperity).
“As the world’s largest democracy, a major contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and a strong votary of the rights of developing countries, India will bring its own unique strengths and perspective to the Security Council,” he said.
Highlighting India’s approach, the senior diplomat stressed that the current COVID-19 crisis offers India “new opportunities to seek innovative and inclusive solutions by using multilateralism and international cooperation.”
Ahead of the June 17 election to the UNSC seat, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar outlined key priorities of India during its stint as a member of the UNSC. These include:
- Seeking responsible and inclusive solutions
- Concrete and result-oriented action at the Security Council for an effective response to international terrorism
- Reformed Multilateralism to reflect contemporary realities;
- A comprehensive approach to peace and security, guided by dialogue, mutual respect, commitment to international law, for which we also hope to help streamline UN Peacekeeping
- Technology with a human touch.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.