Following his observation at the UN’s 75th anniversary Summit that “the original mission of the UN remains incomplete”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the UN General Assembly on 26 September 2020 to outline a vision for the future of the UN which integrated the objectives of peace, security and development.
The need for change was central to realize this vision. The Prime Minister said that the context in which the UN was created in 1945 had changed drastically over the past 75 years. As a founding member of the UN, India remained committed to “maintain the relevance of this great institution”. However, the requirements and challenges of the 21st century were vastly different from those of the past. He underlined that the need of the hour was “reform in the responses, in the processes, and in the very character of the United Nations”.
At the heart of this reform was that of the UN Security Council, whose failure to prevent conflicts, including civil wars, and terrorist attacks had resulted in the deaths of many ordinary human beings, including hundreds and thousands of children. Millions of people uprooted by conflicts had become homeless refugees.
Mr. Modi said that India’s 1.3 billion people had waited a long time for the reforms to get completed. The logical conclusion of these reforms was for India to be included in the decision-making structure of the UN Security Council.
India’s permanent presence in the Council would enable the United Nations to benefit from India’s experience as the world’s largest democracy, representing 18% of the global population. It would strengthen the vision of the United Nations as one family, mirroring India’s civilizational outlook of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakkam which gave priority to global welfare.
The Prime Minister highlighted India’s sponsorship of the International Day of Non-violence on 2 October and the International Day of Yoga on 21 June, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the International Solar Alliance as examples of India’s commitment to peace, harmony between man and nature, and sustainable development.
Recalling that during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, India had sent essential medicines to over 150 countries, the Indian Prime Minister gave an assurance to the global community that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity would be used on a global scale, including in enhancing the cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of these vaccines in all countries.
For the post-pandemic era, India had announced a vision of a “Self-Reliant India” which would be a force multiplier of the global economy. Prime Minister Modi listed the “transformational changes” that had taken place in India over the past five years that had enabled hundreds of millions of people to enter the formal financial sector, become free from open defecation, and get access to free health care services. The empowerment of women through promotion of entrepreneurship and leadership, access to micro-financing and paid maternity leave were integral to India’s non-discriminatory development policies. The Prime Minister highlighted that “India is one of the leaders in Digital Transactions” and recalled that India had “never hesitated from sharing experiences of our development”.
The Prime Minister emphasized India’s significant contributions to the expanded role of the United Nations. India’s brave soldiers had suffered the maximum number of casualties among UN peacekeepers while deployed by the Security Council in about 50 peacekeeping missions to maintain world peace. India’s foreign policy initiatives like her ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and “Act East” policy, the idea of ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ and her views on the Indo-Pacific were motivated by her commitment to global peace and cooperation.
Thanking the international community for electing India to the UN Security Council from January next year, the Prime Minister affirmed that India would bring her “rich developmental experience for the benefit of the whole world”. This would contribute to the stability and empowerment of the United Nations which was essential for “the welfare of the world.”
Script: Amb. Asoke Kumar Mukerji, Former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations