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The UN @75-PM’s relevant speech

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

As a matter of fact, the United Nations as an Organisation is ageing. With the age degeneration starts, unless some reinvigorating steps are taken. Undoubtedly, the UN was formed in 1945 i.e in the analog-age. Now, it is the digital-age. So, re-imagination and reform are needed. To its credit, for seventy-five years, the UN has worked better than its predecessor: The League of Nations, which was formed after the first world war. The League of Nation was unable to prevent the immediate Second World War or the animosities prevailing among the powerful nations in the world. The UN initially came into existence with four main purposes: to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to achieve international co-operation in the solution of economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems; and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common aims.

To accomplish these aims, it has set-up a number of bodies through which it can act. For quite some years, it has performed well, prevented World Wars, famines, catered to health and educational needs through WHO and UNESCO and other such wings. However resilient the UN as an Organisation is, it is subject to change, as change is the fact of life. In these three, four months of Corona-virus-spread and Chaos in the world, the UN almost disappeared, barring some activity at the fringe.

Like any other aged Organisation, the UN has become plateaued i.e at a stage of stagnation, as it has not reformed according to time. For this, there are various reasons. After the World War-II, the victors i.e allied forces: the US, the UK, France, Russia along with, one Asian giant -China added up, formed as permanent members in the Security Council with veto power. They are all status-quoits. So, the prime minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji’s saying that (in his speech in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held on 17 July) “The UN was originally born from the furies of the Second World War”, is understandable.

However, China has no role in WW-II, yet it obtained a permanent seat in the Security Council from the Asian region. Ever since China entered, it has been curtailing India’s growth in the region, being a powerful member. Indisputably, India is the largest liberal democracy in the world. And is also from Asia like the China. When it comes to choice, China, a Communist country with an authoritarian rule, often violating Human Rights (which the UN envisages), is kept on the pedestal. None questions the UN for this anomaly. India has a legitimate right to have the permanent seat in the Security Council, as it has been a member of the UN, right from its inception in April 1945 i.e when Organisation had started with only 50-nations.

Now, the UN has 193 member countries. In the present day world, the complexities have grown. China being the biggest beneficiary of the globalization and modern technology, its assertive power is on the rise. It’s unstoppable on land-grabbing from its territorial contiguous countries and in the South China sea, which the UN is unable to contain. So, the UN’s role has also become questionable.

Reforms in the UN & Options for the Change: Right now there are three-different options for the change (of the UN) floating around. The first and foremost is: a hard-core realistic perspective of the powerful states (the US, the UK, France, Russia & China) to be at the helm of affairs i.e as they are exactly, right now. The second is to have the present UN with certain modifications/inclusions. Third is a complete revamp, as the current institutions in the UN are getting weaker. For, there is no structure available in the UN, for the contemporary needs such as: climate change, big-data, epidemic-pandemics etc and also on the ungoverned places that needed to be addressed like: the digital, cyber, solar energy and polar regions. Hence there should be a full revamp of the UN.

After the pandemic (Covid-19) domestic issues largely mattered to all countries. Nations started looking inward/endogenous. Liberals’ wish of Liberal-Market and Internationalism failed, is the thinking. There is another view: that is based on interconnections. In Coronavirus time countries need to support each other. In science and technology, countries need inter-connectedness. Health care is of primary importance. Liberal International- Order would be the solution. Which options fits for India in the above, is the question. For India, international co-operation is necessary. This inter-connectedness is necessary for science and technology. This is for India’s intrinsic development. So, the second is needed.

Reasons for the UN to depend on powerful nations: The UN gets finances mostly through voluntary contributions. They become a major source of sustenance for the Organisation. It is said, in the UN everything is equated to: what is your (member countries’ financial) contribution! The US and China being the big financiers to the Organisation, their opinion prevails in many ways. Many countries see this polarity and question it. India has been pushing for reforms in the UN, including in the Security Council, stating that the composition of the UN, doesn’t reflect the current realities and is not representative enough. Whereas, the status-quo suits all permanent members of the Security Council at present! Among them all, China is the only permanent member opposed to India’s inclusion into the powerful group.

However, India’s concern has been taken into cognizance by the US. So, there is a good signal emanating from the US. The former American diplomat to India, Richard Verma said (on July19), the democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, if elected to power in November elections, will help shape the UN, so that India gets a permanent seat in the Security Council. That shows, India got the recognition for its worth. Recently, India got elected as non-permanent member (once again) in the Security Council for the term of 2-years starting from 1st January 2021. But India’s fight for a permanent seat in the Security Council should continue (as a patient civilizational country) in the changed scenario of post-Covid-19.

All aspirational countries in the world are seeking reforms in the UN. Accordingly, the Indian prime minister has also sought for multilateralism. He in his address to ECOSOC said, “Only reformed multilateralism with a reformed United Nations at its Centre can meet the aspirations of the humanity. That is in fact human-centric globalization”. So, India is not in support of a uni or bi-polar world-order, where a single super power or two dictate: what other countries should be doing. India aspires for a reformed-UN, that has the approach of multilateralism.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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