During UNSC tenure, there were instances when India had to stand alone: UN envoy Ruchira Kamboj

During the 2021-22 tenure as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, there were instances when India “had to stand alone” but it did not let go of the principles it believed in, New Delhi’s envoy here has said.

India assumed the monthly rotating presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on December 1, the second time in its two-year tenure as an elected member of the Council in 2021-22. India had earlier assumed UNSC presidency in August 2021.

“During the last two years, we spoke out in support of peace, security and prosperity. We did not hesitate in raising our voice against the common enemies of humanity, such as terrorism,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the 15-nation UN Security Council for the month of December Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said on December 22.

In a wrap-up briefing for non-members of the Security Council on its work for the month of December before the holiday week, Ms. Kamboj highlighted the “packed” agenda of the Council for the month under India’s presidency as well as signature events on reformed multilateralism and counter-terrorism presided over by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last week.

This included the unveiling of the bust of Mahatma Gandhi in the UN and launching of the Group of Friends to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers.

Ms. Kamboj said that during India’s UNSC tenure, “there were instances when we had to stand alone. But the alternative in those instances was to let go of the principles we genuinely believe in.” She said in instances “where we had genuine differences” with some Council members, such as on the issue of the role of the Security Council in dealing with climate change, India’s “opposition was based on principles.” Ms. Kamboj said India is acutely aware of the fact that reform of the Security Council is the need of the hour.

“This conviction has only been strengthened after our tenure. As we exit the Council this tenure, we remain convinced that the more there is resistance to change, the more the danger that the decisions of this body stand the risk of losing relevance and credibility,” she said.

India has been at the forefront of efforts calling for urgent reform of the Security Council, which has remained deeply divisive in dealing with current challenges.

India has asserted that the Council, in its current form, does not reflect today’s geo-political realities and its credibility is at risk if nations such developing powers like India do not have a permanent seat at the horse-shoe table.

Reflecting on India’s tenure in the Council in the last two years, Ms. Kamboj told the UN members that India was conscious that when “we spoke in the Security Council, we were speaking on behalf of 1.4 billion Indians or 1/6th of humanity. But we are also conscious of the fact that we were also the voice of the global South during our tenure, highlighting issues of particular importance to the developing world.”

“India reiterated and reinforced its commitment to the basic principles that we have been articulating, even when outside the Council – multilateralism, rule of law and a fair and equitable international system,” she said.

India also tried to bring focus on issues, which it believed were highly important and should receive adequate attention from the Security Council.

“Maritime Security was the best example where until not too long ago, the Security Council was focused only on the issue of piracy, whereas maritime security encompasses far larger issues as well,” she noted.

She stressed that as a large troop contributing country, India also brought attention to the peacekeeping angle and piloted resolution 2,589 which calls for accountability in cases of crimes against peacekeepers. Ms. Kamboj thanked the UN members for the trust they reposed in electing it to the Security Council these two years.

She recalled that before India entered the Council on January 1, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in September 2020 that India will use the prestige and experience of being the largest democracy in the world for the benefit of the whole world.

While more than a week is left for India’s presidency of the Council to conclude, Ms. Kamboj said the Security Council has exhausted all its routine and mandated meetings for the month and the wrap-up session was held to brief the UN member states on the work during the month before the holiday week begins.

Also read | ‘Still not convinced’ about the impact UNSC resolution would have in making progress towards resolving issues in Myanmar: India

On the open debate on reformed multilateralism, Ms. Kamboj said it was clear from the meeting that using the smokescreen of so-called differences in position to stall or obstruct even the launching of text based negotiations for reform is not a viable tactic anymore.

“The Presidential Statement adopted after the second signature event on counterterrorism urges member states to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism and to deny safe havens for the perpetrators,” she said.

During the month, the Council had important discussions relating to key issues including Afghanistan, Armenia, Syria, Haiti, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “While we will exit the Council, Afghanistan will continue to remain in our hearts,” Ms. Kamboj added.

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