12th Plenary Meeting, 1st October, 1993
Speech by Mr. Dinesh Singh
Mr. President, your unanimous election as President augurs well for the
forty-eighth session of the General Assembly. I extend my heartiest congratulations to you and best wishes for success.
Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Secretary-General, has given a new vision and a new impetus to the United Nations at a crucial time in its history. We wish him well in his efforts.
My Government is deeply touched by the sympathy and compassion expressed by the leaders of several delegations on the devastating earthquake in India on 30 September 1993, and, with your permission, Mr. President, I shall have to go back to India immediately.
The United Nations will soon be 50 years old. It has had many achievements to its credit: decolonisation; efforts to alleviate poverty; peace-keeping; disarmament; devising an accepted code of international law; respect for human rights and concern for the environment. I would like to reiterate India's faith in and consistent support for the United Nations and its efforts to establish peace and the well-being of peoples. We take note that the United Nations is trying to evolve so as to better serve the principles and purposes of the Charter. We support the Secretary-General's efforts to make what he has called a transition from the old to the new United Nations, which would be particularly useful and fruitful for the less developed and less fortunate States.
The euphoria generated by the end of the cold war has in the past two years given way to concerns about the difficulties of achieving a new global equilibrium and stability. Essentially, we can see these difficulties arising from the contradictory pulls and pressures exerted by the forces of positive integration and harmony on the one hand and fragmentation and discord on the other.
The end of the divisions of the cold war and the efforts to halt and reverse the arms race have generated some of the integrative forces. Some forces of
integration have also been at work in the global economy, which has been
characterised by the globalisation and interdependence of countries' factors of production and of issues of trade, money, finance, technology, environment, population and development. The desire of the developing countries to participate more actively in the growth of the world economy and the building-up of free-market, liberalized economies for themselves adds another positive dimension. Issues of common concern and global survival-economic development and regeneration, environmental sustainability, demographic management, technological dynamism and health for all-have provided a sense of common destiny. The communications revolution has resulted in greater cultural intermingling and openness around the world.
These forces of integration are, unfortunately, opposed by those of fragmentation. Represented by sectarian and subnational aggression, racism, religious fundamentalism, bigotry, terrorism, drug trafficking and arms smuggling, they pose a threat to peace, global security, democracy, human rights and economic and social development. We are also witnessing strife, conflicts and cruel, unceasing and irrational civil wars in many parts of the world. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia and Afghanistan cause us anxiety and concern. The proliferation of such local conflicts and the ever-increasing flow of refugees across national frontiers reaffirm the truism that peace, like freedom, is indivisible and that the disruption of peace anywhere is a danger to peace everywhere.
These divisive forces have caused not only political instability but also economic collapse in several instances. Conversely, economic sluggishness and lack of development in several cases have led to political upheavals. Inward-looking, exclusivist and narrowly self-centred global economic policy-making has been in evidence at a time when the global economy is overshadowed by recession and lack of dynamism. Macro-economic coordination is at its weakest. Protectionist tendencies are strong. The potential of developing countries to act as vigorous engines of growth for revitalizing the world economy stands largely ignored. In developing countries, absolute and deepening poverty, hunger and malnutrition, disease, illiteracy and the lack of shelter and sanitation for a large portion of the population have caused political and social tensions. The structural imbalances and flaws of the post-Second-World-War international economic order persist and prevent the maximization of the benefits of interdependence and globalization.
Against this backdrop, the task of the United Nations should be to construct a new global equilibrium by fostering positive integrative forces and discouraging, if not counteracting, the forces of fragmentation and discord. For this, the new United Nations will have to reiterate the fundamental and immutable principles on which it was built: respect for the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and sovereign equality of nation States. I am glad that the Secretary-General stated in his report to the forty-eighth session:
"National sovereignty is the art of rendering unequal power equal. Without State sovereignty, the very instrument of international cooperation might be destroyed and international organization might itself become impossible." (A/48/1, pare. 16)
The United Nations will have to set an example for the conduct of relations
amongst nation States on the basis of respect for the rule of law, democracy and pluralism. Any international framework, whether it be associated with peace or development, must be transparent and must deal with issues of global concerns on a non-selective and non- discriminatory basis.
In the final analysis, the institutions, concepts and agencies that represent the new world order will be judged by their ability to harness and channel the beneficial and creative forces of integration for the benefit of peace and development for all and by the ability of the United Nations to ensure that the interests of its weaker Member States are fully reflected therein. In these still perilous times, they would have to promote development cooperation and effectively arrest the plunge into insecurity, strife and chaos, particularly when these threaten the very foundation of Member States, where ultimately the United Nations is rooted.
There have been references in this Assembly to all these conflicts, big or small, local or with international dimensions, describing them in the generic terms of ethnic, religious and civil wars. The plurality and complexity of our post-cold-war world do not permit such generic labelling. Nor are these conflicts amenable to generic and instant remedies. A number of instances of strife or aberrations are part of the historical legacies inherited by Member States. Each is posited in a different socio-economic and cultural matrix of causation; each is caught up in a different cycle of circumstance and violence. The imposition of peace through unilateral external intervention will only perpetuate situations embodying the Orwellian logic of "peace is war" that we see in many parts of the world today.
Wisdom lies in overcoming conflict situations with a positive vision animated by peace and amity and in creating the necessary confidence and will for peace among countries and peoples. It is in this spirit that India is ready to initiate a dialogue with Pakistan to build mutual confidence and to promote a climate of stability in our region. I can only hope that Pakistan will respond to this, and have a dialogue with us, instead of trying to go around the world accentuating differences that will be difficult to resolve later.
We welcome the recently concluded peace accord between Israel and the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and earnestly hope that this will be a true harbinger of further positive developments aimed at establishing lasting peace and prosperity in West Asia. We also welcome the announcement by Mr. Nelson Mandela that irreversible progress towards a non-racial, democratic South Africa has been made. In response to his suggestion, India, which had imposed trade sanctions against South Africa as early as 1946, has initiated action to lift those sanctions and to normalize relations with South Africa.
We trust that the recognition by the Security Council of the international boundary between Iraq and Kuwait will contribute to the stabilization of the situation in the Gulf region.
We hope that the faithful implementation of the relevant Security Council
resolutions will lead to the alleviation of the present difficulties of the peoples of the region. In Somalia, a whole population has gone through a protracted civil war and famine with hardly any governmental machinery to tackle the situation. This made it imperative for the United Nations to act. As an unprecedented humanitarian mission, the multilateral action in Somalia enjoyed the support of the entire world, including the factional Somali leaders themselves. India, for its part, has contributed one of the largest contingents to this mission .Now that the situation has improved and starvation has been averted, the United Nations operation faces new problems. It is necessary for the United Nations to reassure all sectors o f the people of Somalia about its role in the country, intensify the process of political reconciliation and adhere strictly to the original objectives of the mission.
The phenomenal in peace-keeping operations in the post-cold-war period and their inclusion as an element of the new agenda for peace is at once a matter of comfort and concern. It is a matter of comfort because the United Nations at long last has started playing its Charter role in the area of peace and security. In the altered international political environment, we would like the United Nations to realize its full potential. At the same time, the involvement of the United Nations on an unprecedented scale with peace-keeping operations causes us concern because operationally the United Nations is not fully prepared and equipped to discharge this role effectively. And, legally and conceptually, the limits, procedures and rules of the involvement of the United Nations are not clearly defined.
For peace-keeping operations to be successful, it is necessary to follow certain guidelines and criteria. All avenues of pacific settlement of disputes, as laid down in Chapter VI of the Charter, should be fully explored and exhausted before resorting to peace-keeping operations under Chapter Vll. Decisions on such operations should be taken in a democratic and broad-based manner, and after thorough consideration of all aspects. To command universal endorsement and maintain their non-partisan character, United Nations peace-keeping operations must be based on the consent of all the States parties to a dispute. They should be undertaken with a specific mandate and a clear time-frame. Greater efficiency should be achieved in both planning and execution of peace-keeping operations. The Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, in his address to the General Assembly a few days ago, put forward a few proposals in this respect which merit consideration by the General Assembly. The concept of invoking humanitarian relief as a basis for peace-keeping operations may have to be approached with a great deal of caution and circumspection. Any new United Nations operation for providing humanitarian relief must be completely non-partisan-in fact and in the perception of the parties involved.
That consideration must also guide any discussion or decision on preventive deployment. The United Nations must not allow itself to be burdened indefinitely with obsolete and ineffective peace-keeping operations. Every possible measure should be taken to ensure the safety of peace-keeping personnel.
Another aspect of the agenda for peace which we would like to underline is the particular importance we attach to Article 50, which enjoins the Security Council to find solutions to the special economic problems faced by third States on account of the implementation of sanctions imposed by the Security Council. We call for an automatic mechanism that would put remedial action in place simultaneously with the imposition of sanctions.
An integral element of any agenda for peace in our time is the achievement of disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament. Having endorsed the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Nations should move on to consider similar steps in other areas of disarmament.
We welcome the unilateral decision of the United States to extend its moratorium on nuclear testing until the end of 1994. The focus of the nuclear-weapon Powers should now be on the early conclusion of a universal, verifiable and comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty leading to the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
India's commitment to non-proliferation is complete and unequivocal. India has an unblemished track record. India's proposal made in 1988 for an action plan for nuclear disarmament within a specific time-frame is of continuing relevance in our bid to rid the world of the global scourge of nuclear weapons. We believe that a new, just and uniformly applicable regime for non-proliferation which does not discriminate between the nuclear-weapon and the non-nuclear-weapon States should be considered at an early date. Such a treaty should place equal obligations on all States. For a non-proliferation regime to be truly meaningful, it must also address the questions of a convention on the non-use of nuclear weapons, a verifiable freeze on the production of fissionable material, a total ban on nuclear-weapon tests and negotiations on general and complete disarmament. The global spread and reach of nuclear weapons reduce to a travesty the objective of achieving genuine peace and security within a narrow regional framework. It is our hope that the United Nations will take firm action in this direction to achieve this in the sense I have mentioned.
One area of concern for developing countries is the question of ad hoc and
unilateral export controls and other restrictions being placed on the transfer of dual-use and high technology with the ostensible purpose of curbing proliferation. Non-proliferation concerns must not be made a pretext for denying developing countries access to technologies critical for their development. There is, therefore, need to evolve multilateral, non-discriminatory and transparent arrangements to regulate the transfer of such technologies so that peaceful uses and dissemination of some key technologies are not denied to the developing world.
There is perhaps merit in convening a special session on disarmament to examine the whole gamut of disarmament-related issues that arise in the new context of today. The question of a peace dividend arising from disarmament in the form of financial and technical resources for the enhancement of international development cooperation in the context of the United Nations could be one of the issues that special session could address.
It is obvious that there can be no global security unless development is ensured, and we therefore attach as much importance to an agenda for development as to the "Agenda for Peace". Agenda 21 of the Rio Declaration, outlining-the plan and programme for global cooperation in ensuring sustainable development; the outcome of the Final Act of the eighth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD VIII), on the partnership for development between the North and the South; and the forthcoming Conference on Population and Development, as well as the World Summit on Social Development, provide the international community enough opportunity to promote economic and social development and environmental sustainability, particularly in developing countries. The work on an agenda for development should build on all these development-related action programmes and provide a new impetus to development cooperation, both under United Nations auspices and in bilateral and other multilateral context. Enhancement of the role, resource and capabilities of the organs and agencies dealing with development in the United Nations system should be stressed. The United Nations should also be enabled to have a more interactive relationship with the Bretton Woods institutions in a spirit of finding considered and innovative solutions to global economic problems and pooling all available resources for that purpose.
Comprehensive and constructive dialogue between the North and the South and the strengthening of a global partnership for development are the needs of our times if we are to avoid the replacement of the East-West divide by a North-South one. India has always participated in the ongoing North-South dialogue through the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement and in keeping with the requirements of a more focused dialogue. India has become part of the new group of 15 developing countries for South- South consultation and cooperation, the G-15. We are acting as host to the fourth summit meeting of that group at New Delhi in December. Representing the developing countries, we have had a promising start through an informal dialogue with the G-7 and we hope to build on those beginnings in a spirit of Uglobal partnership for global benefit", as was stated by my Prime Minister Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao in his message to the G-7 Chairman.
Some key issues where there is an ongoing dialogue but which none the less need further consideration and implementation include: participation of developing countries in global macro-economic coordination and decision-making; reciprocation by the North of the efforts of the South at restructuring and economic liberalisation through the pursuit of expansionist policies conducive to long-term growth and opening them up to global competition in goods, services and manpower through reduction and elimination of protectionist barriers; increased capital flows, both official and private, bilateral and multilateral, to developing countries to offset the crippling effects of the debt burden and to accelerate growth and development; and a balanced, successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round, which should ensure substantial enhancement of market access for developing country exports and of their access to the tool of competitiveness.
The profoundly humanistic traditions of the Indian civilisation, with its emphasis on tolerance, harmony, non-violence and the inviolability of the individual, have found their modern expression in the setting up of a democratic, secular and egalitarian polity and society in free India.
Being the largest practising democracy and effecting a synthesis between a
multiplicity of ethnic, religious and linguistic group and peoples has been no easy task, as some in the West are themselves realizing even in the context of their relatively lesser diversities. The Constitution of free India consolidated this humanistic tradition and is indeed a veritable bill of human rights. A strong and independent judiciary and a totally free press have also been watchdogs of democracy and human rights in India.
India's commitment to the effective protection of human rights has now received another institutional impetus with the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission comprised of a retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, a former Chief justice of the State High Court and other eminent persons as well as the chairmen of the three separate national commissions which already exist to protect the interest of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, women and minorities. The Commission has been mandated to inquire into allegations of violations of human rights and has been invested with wide-ranging powers, including the power to establish special investigation teams to carry out effective investigations. The findings of the Commission are to be published from time to time besides being reflected in its annual report, which will also be laid before Parliament. The law also provides for the establishment of human rights commissions by the State Governments, on the pattern of the national Commission, as also special courts for the speedy trial of cases involving human rights violations.
I am confident that members of the Assembly will accept that India has established the most appropriate human rights commission to ensure that there will be full human rights protection in the country.
Our commitment to universally acceptable non-discriminatory norms of human rights and their protection and promotion cannot be questioned. It was in that spirit that we participate actively in the World Conference on Human Rights, which recognized the importance of this issue. We are however pained that not enough emphasis is put on a major threat and impediment to the realization of human rights, namely, terrorism, especially the kind that is aided and abetted by one State against another. Why is it that a few so-called human rights advocates and Member States of the United Nations choose to focus on the human rights of terrorists-those who indulge in senseless murder, destruction, pillage, the disruption of civilized existence and the undermining of democratic institutions? Why do they virtually turn a blind eye to the violation of the human rights of the victims of such terrorism-innocent civilians or those upholding law and order and the territorial integrity of States? Can they in true conscience allow terrorists and their supporters to usurp the moral high ground on human rights?
The United Nations will have to take strong action against terrorists because terrorists engage in all kinds of violence. They try to upset democratically taken decisions in a country by using force and killing people. This must be totally condemned by the United Nations and stopped completely so that people can live in peace and in democracy and express their views in accordance with the constitution of their country.
In sum, we believe that international cooperation in the protection of human
rights can succeed only if it is within the framework of respect for the sovereignty and integrity of States and of a vigorous global programme for anti-terrorist action. We would, however, like to point out that any unilateral use of human rights as an instrument of political pressure or intervention, or as an obstacle to trade or a condition for development cooperation and aid, in fact, serves the opposite purpose and impedes the full realization of the human rights of people of affected countries.
The enhanced role of the United Nations in international affairs calls for the
restructuring and redefining of the functions of its principal organs.
The responsibilities of the Security Council have grown dramatically in the past few years, requiring a greater degree of participation by the overall membership of the United Nations in the Council's decision-making process. We must recognize that the membership of the United Nations has grown enormously over the years. A more balanced and expanded representation for Member States in the Council is therefore inevitable. Unity of purpose among its members rather than size determines the efficiency of any organization. The expansion should not be done selectively or in a piecemeal manner. The principles or criteria of expansion of the permanent and non-permanent membership should be agreed upon by consensus. For the selection of additional States in an expanded Council, the population-which represents the principle of democracy and an element of power-the size of the economy and the future potential of the countries concerned should be taken into account, along with equitable geographical distribution and the contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security. There is virtual unanimity among those who have responded to the Secretary-General that an expansion of the Council is imperative. Interesting suggestions have been put forward by several countries. The logical next step would be to start a process of consultations to arrive at a suitable and fair formula that commands universal support.
The permanent members should be responsive to the aspirations of developing countries represented in the General Assembly on the basis of equality. It is therefore essential also to revive the role of the General Assembly, as was originally envisaged in the Charter.
We stand on a decisive threshold incomparable to any in history, a moment in time when we must bring to bear a larger vision and foster the forces of positive integration, democracy and cooperation at national and international levels.
My Prime Minister has, in characterising the 1990s as watershed years in global affairs in the realm of political, economic and environmental challenges and changes, conveyed an unequivocal message:
"We cannot go wrong if we make coexistence and peace our watchwords, and common universal good our objective".
It is my Government's belief that this quest for the common good, jointly
undertaken, will be central to the success of our endeavour and for the
achievement of the Charter's objective of harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
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