Mr.Vajpayee's Statement, 53rd Session, 24th Sept 1998 at
May I congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of the 53rd UN
General Assembly? We wish you well in our shared endeavours in the United
Nations and offer you our full cooperation. We would like to thank your
predecessor for his engagement and contribution and to compliment him for
the work throughout the last year.
2.I first addressed this august Assembly of the UN as Foreign Minister in
1977. Since then I have had the privilege to come for the General Assembly
sessions for many years but it was without ministerial esponsibility. I
acknowledge with gratitude the confidence of successive Prime Ministers.
To me it also signifies the consensus on national interests and the
foreign policy of India. When I addressed the General Assembly in 1977, it
was the turning point in many ways in the history of India. The Janata
Government was a coalition of many factions who united in the restoration
of our people's faith in democracy. Since then we have had many changes of
Government but the people's political awareness and their faith in the
institutions which uphold our constitutional system has been unwavering.
Today, when I come to this podium as Prime Minister I come on behalf of
another coalition. India has demonstrated that democracy can take root in
a developing country. I am confident that the Indian experience will prove
that democracy can also provide the basis for stable, long-term economic
growth in developing societies. This is the path that the people of India
have chosen and I stand before you today as the symbol of this new
3. Mr President, the world of the 1970's has receded into history. The
shackling constraints of the Cold War are gone. The distinguishing feature
of the last two decades has been the spread of democracy world-wide. By
force of example, we have been one of the authors of the triumph of
democracy. From this flows our desire to see democratisation of the UN
itself. An international body that does not reflect, and change with, the
changing international realities, will inevitably face a credibility
deficit. We, therefore, support a revitalised and effective UN, one that
is more responsive to the concerns of the vast majority of its member
States and is-better equipped to meet the challenges ahead of us in the
4. The Security Council does not represent contemporary reality; it does
not represent democracy in international relations. Following the end of
the Cold War, it has acquired the freedom to act but experience
shows that the Council has acted only when it was convenient for its
permanent members. The experience of Somalia does not do credit to the
Security Council and there are other examples too. Peace-keeping
operations cannot be a reflection of ulterior political priorities and
5. There is only one cure - to bring in fresh blood. The Security Council
must be made representative of the membership of the United Nations.
Developing countries must be made permanent members. It is a right to
which the developing world is entitled. Presence of some developing
countries as permanent members is inescapable for effectively discharging
the responsibilities of the Security Council particularly when we see that
the Council acts almost exclusively in the developing world. It is only
natural that on decisions affecting the developing world, these countries
have a say, on equal terms. Along with other measures, the Security
Council too must be reformed, expanding its nonpermanent membership so
that more developing countries can serve on it. But this alone is not
enough. Because as long as effective power in the Council rests with the
permanent membership, the interests of the developing world will not be
promoted or protected unless developing countries are made permanent
members, on par with the present permanent members. Only this will make
the Council an effective instrument for the international community in
dealing with current and future challenges. The new permanent members must
of course have the ability to discharge the responsibilities that come
with permanent membership. India believes it can, and, as we had said
before from this rostrum, we are prepared to accept the responsibilities
of permanent membership, and believe we are qualified for it.
6. It will be a great day when democracy becomes the universal norm, and
when the UN reflects this democracy in its institutions and functioning,
However, open democratic societies have one scourge to contend with -
terrorism. The challenge before countries like mine and other democracies
is to maintain our openness, safeguard individual rights, and, at the same
time, give no quarter to terrorists. Several speakers before me have
recounted the terrible toll, worldwide, that terrorists have exacted,
taking advantage of the trust that characterises open societies. I recall
that the G-7 Summit almost two decades back had identified terrorism as
one of the most serious threats to civilised societies, Events since then
including the blowing up of Air India Kanishka, the Pan Am Airlines over
Lockerbie, to the recent bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam - have only
established the correctness of that judgement.
7. Mr. President, terrorism is one threat that affects us all equally.
Terrorism takes a daily toll across the world. It is the most vicious
among international crimes, the most pervasive, pernicious and ruthless
threat to the lives of men and women in open societies, and to
international peace and security. In India, we have had to cope with
terrorism, aided and abetted by a neighbouring country, for nearly two
decades. We have borne this with patience, but none should doubt the
strength of our resolve to crush this challenge. Its tentacles have spread
across the world. Today, it has linkages with illicit trade in drugs, arms
and money laundering. In short, terrorism has gone global and it can only
be defeated by organised international action.
8. Let us make up our minds once and for all - terrorism is a crime
against humanity. Unilateral steps can hardly stand scrutiny in an open
society, let alone in the eyes of the international community. It should
be the primary task of all open and plural societies to develop collective
means for tackling this menace. Ai the summit meeting in Durban, theNon-Aligned
Movement has called for an international conference in 1999 to develop
such a collective response. We urge that the 1999 conference launch the
process of negotiations for an international convention to provide for
collective action against States and organisations which initiate or aid
and abet terrorism.
9. In this fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, there is a growing realisation that economic, social, cultural,
civil and political rights form a seamless web. Analyses carried out in
recent years by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees amply reflect the
vicious cycle of how violations of economic, social and cultural rights
inevitably lead to violations of civil and political rights. In defining
its index, the Human Development Report gives a higher weightage to
economic criterion for developing countries; this weightage is reduced for
developed countries, highlighting the importance of the right to
development for developing societies. It is therefore a matter of concern
that the absolutism sought to be advocated in the promotion of human
rights is often at the cost of the right to development.
10. India has ratified both the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights and the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. Other institutions
in our country - the National Human Rights Commission, a free media, an
independent judiciary - all serve to assure that the international human
rights statutes are enjoyed by all citizens. We also remained convinced
that unless progress is made on economic, social and cultural rights
including the right to development, the world will continue to witness
international conflict leading to migrations, displacement of people and
human rights abuses.
11. In the closing years of the 20th century, the challenge of nuclear
disarmament is another of the priorities facing the international
community. We have successfully prohibited chemical and biological weapons
in recent decades. The present century has witnessed the development and
the tragic use of nuclear weapons. We must ensure that the legacy of this
weapon of mass destruction is not carried into the next century.
12. For the last half-century, India has consistently pursued the
objectives of international peace along with equal and legitimate security
for all through global disarmament. These concepts are among the basic
tenets of our national security. India has, over the years, sought to
enhance its national security by promoting global nuclear disarmament,
convinced that a world free of nuclear weapons enhances both global and
India's national security.
13. The negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) began in
1993 with a mandate that such a treaty would "contribute effectively
to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in all aspects, to the process
of nuclear disarmament and therefore, to the enhancement of international
peace and security". India participated actively and constructively
in the negotiations, and sought to place the Treaty in a disarmament
framework by proposing its linkage with a time-bound programme for the
universal elimination of all nuclear weapons.
14. It is a matter of history that India's proposals were not accepted.
The treaty, as it emerged, was not accepted by India on grounds of
national security. We made explicit our objection that despite our stand
having been made clear, the treaty text made lndia's signature and
ratification a pre-condition for its entry into force.
15. Mindful of its deteriorating security environment which has obliged us
to stand apart from the CTBT in 1996, India undertook a limited series of
five underground tests, conducted on I 1 and 13 May, 1998. These tests
were essential for ensuring a credible nuclear deterrent for Inda's
national security in the foreseeable future.
16. These tests do not signal a dilution of India's commitment to the
pursuit of global nuclear disarmament. Accordingly, after concluding this
limited testing programme, India announced a voluntary moratorium on
further underground nuclear test explosions. We conveyed our willingness
to move towards a de jure formalisation of this obligation. In announcing
a moratorium, India has already accepted the basic obligation of the CTBT.
In 1996, India could not have accepted the obligation as such a restraint
would have eroded our capability and compromised our national security.
17. Mr. President, India, having harmonised its national imperatives and
security obligations and desirous of continuing to cooperate with the
international community is now engaged in discussions with key
interlocutors on a range of issues, including the CTBT. We are prepared to
bring these discussions to a successful conclusion, so that the entry into
force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September 1999. We expect that
other countries, as indicated in Article XIV of the CTBT, will adhere to
this Treaty without conditions.
18. After protracted discussions, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva
is now in a position to begin ne , gotiations on a treaty that will
prohibit the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other
nuclear explosive devices. Once again, we are conscious that this is a
partial step. Such a treaty, as and when it is concluded and enters into
force, will not eliminate existing nuclear arsenals. Yet, we will
participate in these negotiations in good faith in order to ensure a
treaty that is non-discriminatory and meets lndia's security imperatives.
India will pay serious attention to an,, other multilateral initiatives in
this area, during the course of the negotiations in the CD.
19. As a responsible state committed to non-proliferation, India has
undertaken that it shall not transfer these weapons or related know-how to
other countries. We have an effective system of export controls and shall
make it more stringent where necessary, including by expanding control
lists of equipment and technology to make them more contemporary and
effective in the context of a nuclear India.," At the same time, as a
developing country, we are conscious that nuclear technology has a number
of peaceful applications and we shall continue to cooperate actively with
other countries in this regard, in keeping with our international
20. A few weeks ago, at the Non-Ali ned Summit Durban, India proposed, and
the Movement agreed that an international conference be held, preferably
objective of arriving at an agreement, before the end of this millennitim
on a phased programme for the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.
I call upon all members of the international community, and particularly
the other nuclear weapon states to join in this endeavour. Let us pledge
that when we assemble here in the new millenniums it shall be to welcome
the commitment that mankind shall never again be subjected to the use or
threat of use of nuclear weapons.
21. Mr. President, the decade of the 1990s has fallen far short of
expectations; nowhere is this more apparent than on the global economic
scene. The sense of triumphalism that heralded the wave of global
capitalism is now giving way to caution and realism. What was initially
seen as an Asian flu is now spreading to other continents.
22. The hypothesis that unfettered capital flows would foster economic
development with the global financial markets adjusting the exchange rates
stands falsified. What we have seen is the growth of a large volume of
"virtual money" that has not been generated by productive
economic activity. But the power of the "virtual money" is real,
evident in the fact that national regulatory mechanisms are unable to cope
with the impact of its rapid movement in and out of currencies. Its
volatility in the short run does not follow economic logic but rumour and
sentiment, with results that are self-reinforcing. In developing countries
and in western financial capitals, there is now a growing acceptance that
premature liberalisation of capital markets has been a primary cause of
the current crisis.
23. Does it mean that the world should turn back from globalisation? Our
answer is an emphatic NO. Rising economic inter-dependence is a phenomenon
driven by the technological imperative, but we must learn how to manage
the change. India has not been affected as severely as some other
countries, largely because we adopted policies that were more prudent. But
a drop in commodity prices by 30 per cent in a year and a reduction in net
capital flows by 50 per cent to the emerging markets will have a negative
impact on growth everywhere, including in the developed world.
24. I must emphasise that democratically elected leadership in open
developing societies, such as India, also faces another challenge. We
cannot let an unbridled free market system aggravate existing economic and
social disparities. In fact, we need policy instruments to reduce
disparities thus creating a more stable environment in the long term. Such
policies are necessary in accountable democracies and in no way
inconsistent with managed liberalisation.
25. It is high time, Mr. President, that we begin a new international
dialogue, on the future of a global and inter-dependent economy. This is a
task for the sovereign states represented here and cannot be left solely
to the dynamics of an unregulated market place.
26. Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, I think I speak for all of us when I
say that we are on the threshold of a new age. This is an over-used
phrase, but we are all aware that an exciting new universe is within our
reach. Several centuries ago, Isaac Newton described his scientific
discoveries as pebbles on the beach, while the Ocean of Truth lay
undiscovered. It was modest of that great scientist to so describe his
work, but I believe that we are now actually sailing in the Ocean of
Truth. We have made exciting discoveries and will make many more which
will move humankind forward.
27. And yet, there is also an uneasy feeling that all is not well. The
world is not at ease with itself Forces are bubbling under the surface
tranquility in almost all parts of the world that threaten the gains of
the last century, and which seek to lead the world towards bigotry,
violence and unhealthy exclusivism.
28. India has a message : not a new one, for almost all religions have
expressed the thought before. But we have preserved the tenets - of
freedom, equality and tolerance in our daily lives. If the world of the
21st century is to be a better place than the world we have seen so far,
these values must prevail. History also shows that these are easier to
prescribe than to observe. And yet, as we move towards ever-closer
interdependence. there is no alternative. The world and its leaders must
summon the will to rise to the occasion and enter the new age with a new
outlook. This is the task before us and I declare lndia's readiness to
make its full contribution in the testing times ahead.
29. 1 close with an ancient sloka from the Rig Ved composed thousands of
years ago in Sanskrit, the oldest language in the World:
Oordhvam Jugatu beshajam
Sam no astu dvipathe
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti".
Let all human beings be blessed with prosperity. Let all flora and fauna
which are life line of all creatures, grow abundantly, Let there be
harmony With all two-legged creations. Let there be harmony with all
four-legged creations.. Let there be peace, peace, peace. (Om Shanti,
Thank you, Mr President.
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