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More than Just a Few Countries Should Set the Agenda, Indian Minister Says at UN

The days when a few nations set the global agenda and “expected others to fall in line” are over, India’s foreign minister told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, said “we often advocate the promotion of a rules-based order. From time to time, respect for the UN Charter is also invoked.”

“But for all the talk, there are still a few nations who shape the agenda and seek to define the norms. This cannot go on indefinitely. Nor will it go unchallenged.”

Structural inequalities, uneven development

Minister Jaishankar highlighted the pressing issue of structural inequalities, uneven development, and their impact on sustainable development, particularly in the countries of the Global South.

Addressing the Assembly’s general debate, he emphasized that these disparities, coupled with the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequences of ongoing conflicts and tensions have resulted in a setback in socio-economic progress achieved in recent years.

“Resources for sustainable development are severely challenged. And many countries really struggle to make ends meet,” he said.

Diplomacy, dialogue ‘the only effective solutions’

Minister Jaishankar recalled the recent G20 Summit and said India’s Presidency focused on “key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few.”

“At a time when East-West polarization is so sharp and North-South divide so deep, the New Delhi Summit also affirms that diplomacy and dialogue are the only effective solutions. The international order is diverse, and we must cater for divergences, if not differences,” he said.

“The days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over.”

G20 Summit outcomes

The Minister noted outcomes from the Summit, including an action plan for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), environment initiatives, highlighting international financial institutions reform and the admission of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20.  

“By doing so, we gave voice to an entire continent which has long been its due,” he said, and in that context, urging reforms to the UN Security Council.

Global collaborations

In his address, Minister Jaishankar said that all nations pursue their national interests, something which India does not see as being in contradiction with global good.

“When we aspire to be a leading power, this is not for self-aggrandizement but to take on greater responsibility and make more contributions. The goals we have set for ourselves will make us different from all those whose rise preceded ours,” he said.

He also highlighted India’s collaboration globally, including assisting disaster response in Türkiye and Syria, supporting Sri Lanka during its economic crisis, and his country’s contributions to food security, technology, and climate action.

Domestically, he said one-third of the seats in India’s legislatures are reserved for women through the adoption of a “pathbreaking legislation”.

Looking ahead

Next year’s Summit of the Future should be an opportunity to drive change, champion fairness and reform multilateralism, Minister Jaishankar said.

This should include the expansion of the Security Council membership he added, emphasizing: “We must address global challenges imbued with the conviction that we are one earth and one family, with one future.”

Source : UN News