India’s statement at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has emphasised the need to respond to the challenges brought on by a rapidly changing world order, including the necessity to push ahead with long-pending reforms of the UN and its various bodies. The statement, delivered by external affairs minister S Jaishankar, was a timely reminder of the numerous issues facing the international community, ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine. On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the minister made it clear that India stands firmly on the side of peace, those backing the path of dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out, and vulnerable nations grappling with spiralling prices of food and energy — a reiteration of the Indian leadership’s direct call to the Russian side to end the war. The statement, more importantly, focused on the changes needed for the world community to tackle challenges. These include the accumulation of debt in fragile economies, the over-centralised nature of globalisation, the unreliability of most supply chains, the trust and transparency issues associated with many emerging technologies, the food and energy crises, and the severe consequences of the climate crisis.
With India set to take over the presidency of the G20 at the end of this year, the platform of the world’s 20 largest economies — though riven by Russia’s war in Ukraine — could still play a key role in finding solutions, as it demonstrated during the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. India’s commitment to stand by developing nations on issues such as debt, food and energy security and climate action during its G20 presidency is a welcome assertion.
Equally important is India underlining the need for reformed multilateralism, with changes in the UN Security Council at its core, as this is an issue left pending by the five permanent members of the body for too long. As it exists today, the Security Council is neither fair nor representative, and one prominent example of its failings is the blocking of legitimate attempts to sanction terrorists. India’s aspiration to become a permanent member of an expanded Security Council has been backed by developing and smaller nations but these states hardly have the heft to forge such change. A new call by the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue for comprehensive UN reforms that reflect the current global realities could give impetus to these efforts.
Enjoy unlimited digital access with HT Premium
Subscribe Now to continue reading