Mathur voiced India's commitment to be a constructive
The UN apparatus, especially the Security Council, is crumbling under the weight of 21st-century geopolitical realities, India has said, underlining that the General Assembly should take the lead in restoring the centrality of the United Nations to resolve transnational issues through multilateralism.
India has consistently advocated the view that the General Assembly can be revitalised only when its position as the chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations is respected both in letter and in spirit, Counsellor in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Pratik Mathur said here Tuesday.
Addressing the UN General Assembly plenary meeting on ‘Revitalisation of the Work of the General Assembly', Mathur said: “We must admit that some of the blame lies with the General Assembly and its member states for having allowed its relevance to be diluted despite being the collective voice of all nations.” He noted that there is a “growing perception" that the General Assembly has gradually lost touch with its foundational responsibilities and has become overwhelmed with processes. “Moreover, the attempts to discuss thematic issues in the Security Council has also undermined the role and authority of the General Assembly,” he said.
India believes that multilateralism, rebalancing, fair globalisation and reformed multilateralism cannot be kept in abeyance for long, Mr Mathur said.
“Nevertheless, as we speak, we see the UN apparatus, especially the Security Council crumbling under the weight of 21st century geopolitical realities, which consequently has turned some of the tide towards the General Assembly, giving us more facetime and traction, where the voice of the Global South is a formidable force unlike what is the case in the Security Council.” Mathur asserted that the General Assembly should take the lead in setting the global agenda and restoring the centrality of the United Nations in formulating multilateral approaches to resolving transnational issues.
He emphasised that “in the backdrop of the prevailing global scenario”, the calls for reformed multilateralism enjoy considerable support amongst UN members.
“It does so because of the widespread recognition that the current architecture is anachronistic and indeed ineffective. It is also perceived as deeply unfair, denying entire continents and regions a voice in a forum that deliberates their future,” he said.
India has consistently called out the lack of representation of Africa in the Council's permanent membership.
The UN Security Council is composed of five permanent members — China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US and 10 elected non-permanent members who serve two-year terms. India completed its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Council in December last year.
Mathur added that there is a need for a new orientation for reformed multilateralism, which was one of the key priorities during India's Security Council Presidency in December last year.
“We need an all-encompassing, comprehensive reform process” which includes expansion in permanent as well as non-permanent categories of membership of the Security Council, the question of the veto, the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council and an improvement in the working methods.
India stressed that the primacy and legitimacy of the 193-member General Assembly flow from the inclusive nature of its membership and the principle of sovereign equality of all its constituents.
“In these turbulent times, the universal character of the General Assembly and the moral weight of its decisions and opinions cannot be over-emphasised,” Mathur said.
Mathur voiced India's commitment to be a constructive and active participant in any process that allows serious negotiations on such a critical matter to proceed sincerely.
“They must not be blocked by procedural tactics,” he said. “Naysayers cannot be allowed to hold the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) process hostage in perpetuity.” India asserted that it is of paramount importance to ensure that the IGN process on UNSC reforms that started 14 years ago delivers concrete outcomes through a text-based process within a fixed time frame.
Mathur noted that with the passage of time, there have been several occasions when the General Assembly has led from the front while setting a global agenda.
He said the Sustainable Development Summit in 2015 followed by the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage are examples of how the General Assembly can set the global agenda and galvanise the global community for solving the common problems and challenges.
“We hope and expect that the same would remain the outcome with regard to the ongoing deliberations with regard to the Summit of the Future to be held next year,” he said.
The UN has termed the Summit of the Future, to be held in September next year, as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to enhance cooperation on critical challenges and address gaps in global governance, reaffirm existing commitments including to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Charter, and move towards a reinvigorated multilateral system that is better positioned to positively impact people's lives.
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