STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA AT THE 56TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON NOVEMBER 10, 201
I congratulate you on your election as President of the
56th General Assembly.
I also take this opportunity to warmly congratulate the
Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and the United Nations on being honoured with
the Nobel Peace Prize.
This session of the General Assembly is being held in
the shadow of the barbaric terrorist acts of September 11, which dramatically
reminded us that neither distance nor power insulates a State from terrorism.
They represented an arrogant rejection of the values of freedom and tolerance,
which democratic and pluralistic societies cherish.
Even while uniting the nations of the world in their
grief, this terrible tragedy has created the opportunity to fashion a determined
global response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever it
exists and under whatever name.
We in India know from our own bitter experience that
terrorists develop global networks driven by religious extremism. Their
operations are supported by drug trafficking, money laundering and arms
smuggling. Some States follow a policy of sponsoring and sheltering them. They
can only be countered through closely coordinated efforts of the international
The UN Security Council resolutions 1368 and
1373 are steps in the right direction, but it requires firm political will of
the freedom-loving world to implement them rigorously. The two crucial elements
in this would be strict curbs on sources of financing for terrorists and denying
them safe havens for training, arming and operation.
We must firmly rebuff any ideological, political or
religious justification for terrorism. We should reject self-serving arguments
seeking to classify terrorism according to its root causes, and therefore
justifying terrorist action somewhere while condemning it elsewhere. Those that
advance these arguments should explain what the root causes of the brutal acts
of September 11 were.
India supports the current campaign against the
terrorist networks in Afghanistan. We hope that it reaches an early and
successful conclusion. That country’s current travails can only end with the
establishment of a broad-based, representative and neutral government, which
would stop the export of terrorism and extremism. The international community
should work towards this even while the military campaign continues, so that we
avoid a political vacuum at the end of the campaign.
We must recognize that current structures to facilitate
a post-Taleban political settlement are unrepresentative and therefore
ineffective. Located as it is in Afghanistan’s neighborhood, India’s vital
national interests are affected by developments in it. We also have
traditionally close links with Afghanistan. This is the basis for our belief
that India can play a useful role in this process.
The task of reconstruction in post-conflict Afghanistan
also merits the urgent attention of the international community. It would
require massive external assistance to create an economic situation conducive to
the speedy return and rehabilitation of the millions of Afghans who have taken
refuge in other countries of this region. Again India stands ready to join
international efforts for this.
We have already announced relief assistance of a
million tonnes of wheat, medicines and medical assistance for needy Afghans
within and outside the country. We have also pledged 100 million dollars to
post-conflict Afghanistan for reconstruction. We are prepared to do more.
thousand lives were lost on September 11. But the global economic downturn in
its aftermath will take a far larger human toll, mainly in the developing world.
The World Bank has estimated that tens of thousands more children will die
worldwide and some ten million more people are likely to go below the poverty
line of 1 dollar a day.
It is pertinent
to reflect on these chilling statistics even as the Ministerial Conference gets
under way in Doha to consider WTO issues.
Before we embark on any
new initiatives for
globalization and sustainable development, we should recognize that political
support for them would be determined primarily by the impact of these regimes on
For most developing countries, the Uruguay Round has
done little for economic growth, while poverty levels and income gaps have
worsened. Globalization has constrained developing countries in mobilizing
public resources for poverty alleviation.
This is why public support for the globalization regime
has vanished in developing countries. This is also why we have argued strongly
that implementation issues should first be resolved before we try to widen the
WTO agenda further. Our public is unwilling to accept another post-dated cheque,
when an earlier one has bounced.
movement towards sustainable development has proved a disappointment. Developing
countries are unable to realize fair payments for their sovereign biodiversity
resources, and traditional knowledge.
The treaties on climate change and biodiversity have also failed to
activate the anticipated investment and technology transfers to developing
Industrialized countries have not shown the political
will to enhance their overseas development budgets. Multilateral development
agencies are also constrained in their resources, of which, in any case, very
little is available on concessional terms.
conclusion is that for current regimes of globalization and sustainable
development to be strengthened - or even to survive - they must re-engineered to
generate large-scale finances for poverty alleviation. The passion for
globalization has to be tempered by compassion for its victims.
this thought has not penetrated into the thinking of the developed economies.
Their actions also do not reflect the realization that there cannot be a
sustainable revival of their own sluggish economies unless the globalization and
sustainable development priorities are re-oriented and anchored in the
developmental needs of two-thirds of the global population.
A year ago, I
had suggested, in my speech to the US Congress, a Comprehensive Global Dialogue
on Development. The aim of such a dialogue would be to address the highly
unstable situation in which one-third of the world’s population lives in
luxury and condemns the remaining two-thirds to poverty and want. It is a
fertile breeding ground for political unrest, economic chaos, and social
would be happy to coordinate this dialogue, with the immediate objective of
mobilizing resources for poverty alleviation programmes in developing countries.
A preliminary agenda for the dialogue could include:
accelerated liquidation of external debts of low income and highly indebted
alleviation programmes specifically aimed at developing countries facing
of international prices of primary commodity exports;
and development programmes for all the world’s needy children, for their
nutrition, health, education, and protection from degrading and hazardous
The struggle for equitable
development and the war against poverty are as important as our campaign against
terrorism and our collective search for security.
At a time when an external stimulus has motivated us to unite against
terrorism and for security, let us summon an equally strong inner resolve for
development and poverty alleviation. They are just as crucial for a global order
at peace with itself.
and seamless linkage between peace, security and development can be recalled in
the sage words of the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore:
“From now onward, any nation that takes
an isolated view of its own interests will run contrary to the spirit of the New
Age, and will know no peace. From
now onward, the anxiety that each country has for its own safety must embrace
the welfare of the whole world.”
More than six decades after the poet
penned these lines, they ring truer in our age of challenge and opportunity.
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