1775th Plenary Meeting, 2nd October, 1969
Speech by Mr. Dinesh Singh
I should like first of all to offer our congratulations on the election of
honourable Angie Brooks of Liberia to the Presidency of this twenty-fourth
session of the General Assembly. It is a fitting tribute to her long
association with this Organization, and to her particular dedication to
the cause of freedom of the colonial peoples. We have every hope that
under her wise guidance this Assembly will make rapid progress on the many
important items of the present and the future.
I should also like to pay a tribute to the memory of her distinguished
predecessor, the late Mr. Emilio Arenales, who presided over the
twenty-third session of the General Assembly with such courage and
purpose. His untimely death is a great loss to his country, to the Latin
American States and the United Nations.
Our distinguished Secretary-General, U Thant, who has become, through the
years, the repository of the conscience of humanity, is carrying a heavy
burden with faith and fortitude. His role as peacemaker is difficult and
delicate and yet he has persevered relentlessly. We can do no less than to
assure him of our co-operation and support for all that he is doing to
uphold the Charter.
A full hundred years ago today, a light was lit in a small coastal town in
India. Within its life-span its brilliance reached the dark corners in
every land. It became the symbol of hope for the down-trodden everywhere.
Today, we in India and millions of people all over the world celebrate the
centenary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. As I speak to this august
Assembly, the thought uppermost in my mind is his message for his
countrymen, for the peoples of the world and for generations yet unborn.
It is a message of peace and co-operation.
The Mahatma demonstrated to us by his deeds that man is capable of rising
above his baser self to a plane that befits his calling. Even while he
fought the inequities of a powerful colonial Power that subjugated his
motherland, he never let bitterness and prejudice envelop us.
Gandhiji set for us exacting standards. He wanted us to be tolerant,
non-violent and generous in our everyday life. We do not claim that we
have lived up to his precepts. We have faltered many a time, even
recently. But nobody can accuse us of not earnestly trying to follow the
path set for us.
Permit me to say that those of us who saw this man in flesh and blood, who
were inspired by his soft voice calling us to action, feel that this great
Organization could experience by his life-work and use some of his methods
to combat the horde of problems that beset the world community today.
It is significant that the three causes for which the Mahatma struggled
non-violently throughout his life were: first, elimination of racial,
social and religious discrimination, second, freedom from colonial
subjugation of his own people and others in different lands, and third,
liquidation of poverty and ignorance.
The Charter of the United Nations, which was fashioned and drafted for the
post-war world and in Gandhi's life-time, concerns itself with all the
three: discrimination, decolonisation, and economic development benefiting
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister, sought to reaffirm the
Gandhian doctrine and to give form and content to it in his policy of
peaceful coexistence. He proceeded on the basis that freedom not fear,
faith not doubt, confidence not suspicion can lead to friendly relations
between States in a world riven by conflict.
When he addressed this Assembly nine years ago he drew attention to the
fact that the propagation of this concept was no empty idealism since, in
practical terms, the choice before the world was to co-operate or perish.
The adherence of all of us to the United Nations Charter commits us to the
principles of peaceful co-existence between States with different social
and political systems; respect for the sovereignty, independence and
territorial integrity of one another; non- interference in the internal
affairs of each other; denial of the fruits of aggression to the
aggressor; respect for fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth
of the human person. Yet, we see these noble ideas trampled upon in the
march of nations towards narrow selfish goals. Has the time, therefore,
not come when we should reaffirm our-commitment to these obligations and
make a declaration which will have, one hopes, binding force?
The Prime Minister of India, Shrimati Indira Gandhi, speaking in this
Assembly in 1968, said:
"Two years hence, in 1970, the United Nations will complete 25 years.
Can we make it a year of peace? A starting point of a united endeavour to
give mankind the blessings of a durable peace?" [1693rd meeting,
Can we not ensure that during this period we begin to reduce expenditure
on armaments and can we not also ensure that a credible declaration for
the renunciation of force in settling disputes is made during this year?
Gandhiji believed that truth and non-violence could bring peace, not only
to individuals but also to nations and the international community. More
than 31 years ago he wrote:
"Not to believe in the possibility of permanent peace is to
disbelieve the godliness of human nature... If the recognized leaders of
mankind who have control over engines of destruction, work wholly to
renounce their use, with full knowledge of its implications, permanent
peace can be obtained... If even one great nation were unconditionally to
perform the supreme act of renunciation, many of us would see in our
lifetime durable peace established on earth."
Peace, renunciation of force, respect for international law, these cannot
be mere slogans. They need to be given substance through greater
co-operation in practical everyday international life.
Unfortunately this co-operation has been lacking so far. While every
opportunity is taken to make good pronouncements, the will to implement
them is conspicuously absent. We have heard, in this Assembly, many
intentions expressed, declarations made and resolutions passed. But we
have noted with great disappointment the lack of enthusiasm in putting
those intentions into action. Disenchantment with the whole process of our
way of working in this Organization is growing. On the eve of the twenty-
fifth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations we have to give
serious thought so that this attitude of despair is turned into one of
hope. We have, therefore, to devise effective means of implementing our
We are, even today, continuing to deal with some of the problems which
were with us when the United Nations was born. The racist policies of
South Africa, rampant and oppressive colonialism of the Portuguese in
Angola and Mozambique as well as in other Territories, the racist
oppression and reactionary exploitation of the people of Zimbabwe by a
white minority and the lack of progress in the liberation of Namibia are
amongst such problems.
It is a terror of might and blackmail by means of sophisticated weapons
that is helping to keep the African peoples in the southern part of Africa
under racial and colonial subjugation. This situation causes us great
anguish, more so because it was there that Mahatma Gandhi first preached
and practised non-violence in the struggle against racial discrimination,
colonial oppression and violation of human rights.
The United Nations Charter contains within itself the means for dealing
with these problems. If this has not been achieved so far it is because
those Member States of this Organization, which are in a position to bring
about a solution of these problems, have been evasive in their response to
the appeals and demands of the international community. They have voted
for, and supported, various resolutions in these halls of the United
Nations, against the racist and the colonialist policies. But at the same
time, they have stopped short of taking effective action to implement
these very resolutions. Perhaps their attempt is to persuade the
international community that the problems faced by the peoples of the
southern part of Africa are beyond solution. We cannot agree with them.
This last stronghold of prejudice, reaction and colonialism must be made
to surrender to the work of this august Assembly and to conform to the
objectives of the United Nations Charter.
In Asia, too, we see conflicts which have persisted from the days of the
founding of this great Organization. I refer specially to Viet-Nam and to
There has been no lack of appreciation of the desire to achieve peace in
Viet-Nam. But to what extent has this desire been translated into action?
The stopping of bombing by the United States of the Democratic Republic of
Viet-Nam has enabled talks to take place in Paris to find a peaceful
solution. The next steps have now to be taken. All parties to that
disputes agree that the people of Viet-Nam should be left free to
determine their own destiny, and no one seems to hold a brief for keeping
foreign forces in that land. The first step to be taken is the immediate
cessation of hostilities. Thereafter, necessary arrangements have to be
made for the withdrawal of foreign troops to enable the people of Viet-Nam
to decide their future, free from foreign interference. This process can
be carried out effectively only if arrangements which inspire the
confidence of all parties concerned can be established. It would,
therefore, seem necessary to have a Government which is adequately
representative to command the confidence and the support of all sections
of the people. Such a Government would be in a position in Viet-Nam to
supervise the withdrawal of foreign forces and prepare for holding fair
elections. To facilitate this process for bringing peace to Viet- Nam the
international community should pledge its full co-operation and support.
I cannot conclude these brief remarks on the situation in that country
without paying a tribute to the late Dr. Ho Chi Minh, in whose death Asia
has lost an indomitable soldier for freedom.
In the Middle East, Israel continues to be in possession of large areas of
territory it overran by force in June 1967. The human problem of large
numbers of Arab refugees is an element in that tangled situation to which
we must not and cannot close our eyes.
Almost two years ago, on 22 November 1967, the Security Council
unanimously adopted resolution 242(1967). The Security Council and its
permanent members have a special responsibility to ensure the faithful
implementation of the 22 November resolution.
The first thing should have been not to permit the aggressor to retain the
fruit of his aggression and use it as a means of bargaining. However, we
are given to understand that in the interest of a mutual adjustment, a
wider solution of the Middle Eastern problem is being attempted. Even so,
there is no movement towards a peaceful solution, and hostilities continue
to flare up from time to time, with even more dangerous consequences.
Further more, there is an unfortunate attempt by some interested parties
to give religious overtones to a problem that is essentially political.
This could only play into the hands of those who wish to confuse the
issues in the Middle East and fan religious emotions, making the quest for
an objective political settlement even more difficult.
My Government has welcomed the initiative of the permanent members of the
Security Council to engage in negotiations amongst themselves on this
question. We have no desire to prejudge or to prejudice the outcome of
those efforts, especially as those efforts continues to be made, albeit at
a leisurely pace. We feel, however, that the responsibility cannot be that
of the permanent members of the Security Council alone. All States Members
of the United Nations have a collective responsibility in all such
I have just referred to the trouble spots of the world where the return of
peace must become an international responsibility. However, a serious
threat to international peace and security today stems from the spiralling
arms race. This race is entering a new stage, both in terms of
sophistication of armaments and expenditure involved. There is a
systematic attempt to widen progressively the gap between the military
Powers and the weaker nations. Concentration of enormous power in the
hands of a few nations is leading to a division of the world into spheres
of influence, in which might alone becomes right in the relationships
between States. It is imperative that this drift towards a new and unequal
balance of power be halted and reversed. It is the responsibility of all
peace-loving States, particularly the non-aligned ones, which are
adversely affected by the emergence of new power patterns, to restore the
balance. They must seek to widen the scope of international co-operation
based on the sovereign equality of all nations.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [resolution 2373 (XXII)]
represents an effective demonstration of the latest trends in relations
between States. That Treaty is as unequal as it is ineffective. It cannot
contribute in any way to a balanced process of disarmament, on which alone
the security of nations can depend. We have, on a matter of principle,
rejected the validity of an instrument which seeks to bind the hands of
the powerless and to licence the further accumulation of armaments by
those whose stockpiles threaten our very existence. It is for this reason
that we remain unable to sign the Treaty.
That unequal Treaty has become even more unacceptable, because of an
attempt on the part of the big Powers to modify assurances of security,
implicit under the provisions of the Charter, to those who do not
subscribe to the Treaty. These new tactics are symptomatic of the growing
tendency to make power and might the basis of international relations. It
also represents the increasing attempts to settle questions of war and
peace outside the forum of United Nations. We cannot be a party to the
weakening of the basic tenets of the Charter and to the whittling down of
the inherent responsibility of Member States. This serious situation can
be solved only by increasing our co-operation so that a more scrupulous
adherence is obtained for the provisions of the Charter.
Domination and exploitation continue to be a normal feature of
international life because of a toleration of the persistence of
inequality. It is this approach which requires to be overhauled. It is
only enlightened economic co-operation on a global scale that can set a
new process in motion and contribute to a more durable peace and
It is not enough for those of us who belong to the developing world merely
to expose the hypocrisy and hollowness of the assertions of the developed
countries that they are straining very muscle to give us help, when they
are not prepared even to respect, in practice, the commitments which they
make year after year through resolutions sponsored in the various forums
of the United Nations. The time has come for us to indicate frankly and
clearly what are the responsibilities of the developing and the developed.
I had the privilege of presenting the report of the second session of the
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to the twenty-third
session of the General Assembly [1708th meeting]. Since then the Trade and
Development Board has met in Geneva in its eighth and ninth sessions. I
said then that the eyes of the world were fixed on results we might be
able to obtain from the continuing machinery. Those very eyes, I fear,
have witnessed the futility of the ninth session. I therefore ask myself,
and I also venture to put this question to this Assembly: what has gone
wrong with the developmental process and with the climate for
international economic co-operation?
To aggravate matters further, there is a growing tendency to detract from
the importance of the basic objectives and put emphasis on palliatives. In
spite of a reasonably thorough identification of the problems of
development through numerous studies, there is an attempt to initiate new
studies and reviews, in a vain attempt to gain more time and to evolve a
plausible philosophy for the present state of stagnation and withdrawal.
The effective multilateral agencies are progressively failing to reflect
the collective will of the international community. Instead, efforts are
being made to base such activities on unilateral and at times even
paternalistic patterns of providing assistance.
To my mind, the basic cause for widespread disenchantment with
international co-operation lies in the deliberately exaggerated dichotomy
between the responses and interests of the affluent and the poorer
nations. Contrary to the facts of economic history, people in positions of
power have come to believe that the process of transmission of growth
impulses is unilateral or irreversible. One has only to reflect on the
rise and fall of nations to come to the conclusion that such a belief is
totally unwarranted. Some of the centres of economic power today have
derived their present strength and their present potential for
transmitting growth from the investment and the skills that flowed to
them, when not so long ago they were not in such a happy position. This
process cannot but repeat itself in the case of the developing countries
which are striving to break the vicious circle in which they find
themselves enmeshed by the accident of history, and through the operation
of an economic order erected on a very narrow base.
In the developed world, the inevitability of rapid change has yet to dawn
on those entrusted with the reins of authority. We need to remind
ourselves that when we launched the First United Nations Development
Decade and when we approved the Final Acts of the Geneva and New Delhi
Conferences of UNCTAD, we committed ourselves to the establishment of a
new and dynamic international economic relationship and to the achievement
of a new world economic order. The
fulfilment of this commitment requires not only determined efforts and
perseverance but also imagination and courage of conviction. We will be
judged harshly by history if we do not display these qualities at this
crucial moment on the eve of the launching of the Second United Nations
We have been conscious of the fact that the primary responsibility for the
development of developing countries rests on themselves.
In Asia, Africa and Latin America a beginning has been made, however
modest, to advance the objective of co-operation between developing
countries and to prove that they do not intend to spare their own efforts
but are serious in carrying out the recommendations of the Algiers Charter
and the second session of UNCTAD.1 The real security of the developing
countries can be ensured only if they are able to develop their own
strength, vitality and vigour; secure for their people economic and social
gains and foster the habit of meeting together to pursue common
In Asia we are attempting to evolve a strategy for integrated development
of regional economic co-operation which represents a well-co-ordinated
attack on the manifold problems and deficiencies in Asia. The move has
been made to provide an Asian answer to Asian problems. What Asia needs
today is not military pacts but economic co- operation.
Regional economic co-operation, and particularly socio-economic
resurgences in Asia can, in the ultimate analysis, be sustained only on
the basis of better utilization of Asian resources and a more even
distribution of wealth and opportunities within our respective societies.
We, in India, have not flinched from taking decisions which alone can
ensure that the wealth of the nation is utilized for the welfare of all
its peoples without distinction. We have been trying resolutely to work in
the context of the phenomenon of rising expectations. In so far as our
society is concerned, we have, in the two decades of our independence,
tried to organize ourselves in a manner to ensure that the response of our
socio-economic structure to the demands on it are quick, unequivocal and
We have also attempted to forge closer economic relations with our
neighbours and, indeed, with other Asian countries represented on the
Council of Ministers for Asian Economic Co-operation. Significant
arrangements have already been concluded with some countries. More are
under negotiation. It is our hope that all Asian countries will respond
favourably to these efforts for co-operation and that we shall receive the
necessary assistance from others so that we will be able to establish in
Asia, torn by conflicts for centuries, new associations of co-operation
based on equality and friendship.
There are a number of items on the agenda and we shall naturally express
our views on them when they come up for discussion. Here I have spoken of
colonialism in Africa and the conflicts in the tortured continent of Asia
because these concern us directly. I have spoken of the socio-economic
resurgence of Asia because we are involved in it. I have spoken of
economic development because we are a part of it. I have also spoken of
the arms race and the attempts that are being made to carve out spheres of
influence in our world. I have talked of the United Nations and its role
in the field of international relations. I have drawn my inspiration for
all this from the message of Gandhi for our own generation and for
generations to come. Permit me to end my speech by quoting a statement
made by Mahatma Gandhi to the representatives of a resurgent Asia at the
Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi, 10 months before his martyrdom.
He said that the world "is despairing of a multiplication of atom
bombs, because the atom bombs mean utter destruction". He went on to
say: "It is up to you to tell the world of its wickedness and
sin-that is the heritage your teachers and my teachers have taught
Asia." This was the reaffirmation of his belief which he expressed
"My nationalism is fierce but not exclusive and not devised to hurt
any nation or individual. India's freedom as conceived by me can never be
a menace to the world. The whole of my country may die so that the human
race may live."
It is in this spirit that we shall endeavour to work.
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