The members of the BRICS grouping should speak with a stronger voice and not be divided among themselves on the critical issue of achieving the long-pending UN Security Council reform, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.
Addressing the BRICS Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Thursday, held on the margins of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, Ms Swaraj said the five-member grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was started a decade ago to change the status quo in international organisations and correct distortions in multilateralism.
A decade later, the call for multilateralism cannot and should not be for reinforcing this status quo but rather to change it, she said.
"At a broader level, we need to develop greater understanding and convergence on issues of mutual concern in the coming years, if BRICS has to emerge stronger," Ms Swaraj said.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for "reformed multilateralism", Ms Swaraj said the most significant unfinished agenda was the reform of the UN Security Council.
"The discussions on the UNSC reform cannot be an exercise in perpetuity, while the legitimacy and credibility of the Security Council continues to get eroded. We, in BRICS should speak with a stronger voice rather than be divided amongst ourselves on this critical area of international governance," she said.
With BRICS leaders giving a robust mandate on counter terrorism, Ms Swaraj said there was a call for a BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy for joint-action with a focus on money laundering, terrorist-finance, cyberspace and de-radicalisation.
"Dismantling terrorist outfits' support infrastructure would be the first step. Terror groups such as Lashkar e-Taiba, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Jaish e Muhammad, Taliban, and Haqqani Network are organised entities that thrive on State support," she said.
Ms Swaraj also urged that the BRICS nations must join hands to make United Nations' counter-terrorism mechanism efficient in listing terrorists and their outfits.
"Implementation of FATF (Financial Action Task Force) standards, across all jurisdictions, will strengthen international efforts in addressing terrorism," she said.
The meeting was attended by Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Filho, Russin Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu.
Ms Swaraj said while BRICS had taken several impressive strides in the last decade, there was still a need to further consolidate the bloc among the five nations and take it forward.
She termed the establishment of the BRICS Credit Rating Agency as among the several unfinished agenda of the grouping.
"We must continue to work together to fight unilateralism. BRICS countries have been contributing positively to global stability and growth. With strong continuing growth and demand, most of future consumer-demands will emanate from the emerging economies," she said.
On strengthening people-to-people exchanges among the nations of the bloc, she said India hoped to hold the BRICS workshop on film technology and development.
She also suggested that BRICS and India could explore possibilities of a joint cooperation in peacekeeping training at the Centre for UN Peacekeeping in New Delhi.
"Peace building process, involving institutions and capacity building, should be nationally owned and rooted to ground realities while eliciting the participation of all relevant stakeholders," she said.
On South-South Cooperation, she said, there was a need to work together to reflect BRICS' position in the international discourse, and ensure "we do not get drawn into the North-South template and accounting".
Describing Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication as major challenges in today's world, Ms Swaraj said the 2030 Agenda, with its overarching goal of poverty eradication and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals "is a matter of commitment for us to our people. Our aim is to achieve our development priorities in a sustainable manner by harnessing renewable energy and efficient use of resources".
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