Security Council presidency an opportunity to showcase India’s leadership credentials

India's UN Security Council presidency
India should use its two-year stint at UN Security Council to address issues such as terrorism, food security, climate change, global health and use of UN sanctions.

By Seshadri Chari

India’s Security Council presidency: Besides my engagement with the RSS and the BJP, I am also teaching geopolitics and international relations at Manipal university. I am also heading the China study centre at Manipal. My only connection with the United Nations is that I had a stint with it in South Sudan as a consultant on governance. The UN is in its 76th year. I do not know whether wisdom will come with the age. As far as the UN is concerned, this wisdom acquired in 76 years should be translated into action.

This is not the first time that India assumes the presidency of the Security Council. We have held it earlier also, and we will be holding the position again in December 2022. That will be at the end of India’s two-year stint at the Security Council. India is at the presidential chair at a time when two very important things are taking place in South Asia and one slightly away from the region. One is the Israeli airstrikes on Hamas-held areas in Gaza. The second is the military coup in Myanmar and the third is the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. India has enough material to tackle these issues and enough agenda as far as these issues are concerned.

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Opportunities in Security Council

Ambassador Manjeev Puri mentioned the presidential statement on Syria. It was India’s diplomatic efforts that convinced the members that instead of a resolution, there should be a presidential statement. A presidential statement does not commit itself to so many other things. When India is the Security Council president, it should be able to come up with a presidential statement.

There is also a need to have some sort of a resolution on terrorism. We all know the problems that will surface after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. India also is a victim of terrorism. The UN Security Council presidency is offering the country an opportunity to tackle the issue from the diplomatic point of view.

India should not bring in bilateral and multilateral issues during its presidency. These are issues that it has to settle using other United Nations formats. More importantly we should forget the elephant in the room. There is already some sort of an axis between China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan as far as Afghanistan is concerned. This is going to be a serious problem as far as the region is concerned.

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India should showcase its leadership credentials

Although Afghanistan is a huge regional problem for us, it is a small issue for the world. India must tackle terrorism from that point of view. As far as sanctions are concerned, we are already suffering because of selective sanctions on Myanmar and Iran. As UN Security Council president, India will get an opportunity to address the issue.

As the chair of UN Security Council, India needs to adopt a frank approach to the sanctions. Being the president for a month is not such a great thing for a large country like India. India should look at issues from that point of view, but should eye opportunities to use the United Nations platform to its advantage. There are some large global issues such as food security, internally displaced persons and internationally displaced persons. Climate change is a huge issue that the world needs to tackle. India cannot address all these in one month. So, it needs to have a two-year time frame to tackle issues such as terrorism.

We all are talking of post-Covid, but the coronavirus is not an issue of the past. The world is still struggling with the second phase and the third and fourth waves seems to be just round the corner. All over the world, there is a feeling that the established health systems have collapsed. The health system collapse is also affecting economic aspects.

The global community is going to face many of these issues in the coming months. So, the Security Council cannot come up with a solution in this one month. India should be able to use this one month to get more visibility to its efforts at the UN. It could show the world that it is capable of looking at issues from a global point of view.

(Seshadri Chari is a politician, author and strategic and foreign policy analyst. This article is the reproduction of his speech at a webinar organised by Policy Circle.)

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