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UN General Assembly: India’s Sustained Multilateralism on Display

Published Sep 02, 2018
Updated Jul 08, 2020

India’s official foreign policy calls for multi-alignment or simultaneous cross engagement with a number of nation states, groupings and forums based on partnerships and principles. Given the United States America First policy adopted by the Trump Administration, multilateralism has under deep scrutiny.

However apart from the Big Apple countries across the globe continue to put their faith in globalised engagement across national boundaries in blocks and partnerships that include more than one country.  This phenomenon and US resistance to the same has even threatened the post Second World  War Atlantic Alliance between the United States and Europe.

The first signs were the European Union refusing to comply with US demands for imposing sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump walked away from the 2015 nuclear deal known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.

While India continues to have strong bilateral relations with the United States, the country has stood for multilateralism and nowhere was it more evident than on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly with India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM) Ms Sushma Swaraj holding multiple bilateral meets and some notable multilateral ones to include the G 4, SAARC,IBSA, BRICS and even the NAM or Non Alignment Movement’s meet on Palestine. Most believe that NAM is dead but it remains relevant given multiplicity of issues and challenges that continue to be faced by developing countries.

Here is a brief overview of some of these meets based on the official releases thereof by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

The foreign ministers of G 4 countries India, Japan, Germany and Brazil who are aspiring to be permanent members of the United Nations Security Council met on 25 September 2018

The meeting was hosted by India. G-4 Ministers stressed that adapting the United Nations to the contemporary needs of the 21st century necessarily required reforming the Security Council. They stressed the need to safeguard the legitimacy and credibility of this UN organ which deals with international peace and security and reviewed progress towards this goal at the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) and discussed pathways to reform of the United Nations Security Council.

The G4 Ministers reaffirmed the need for an early reform of the Council including the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent categories of membership to enhance its legitimacy, effectiveness and representativeness.

At the BRICS meet the Indian EAM exchanged views with BRICS Ministers on matters of global political, economic, and security significance.

EAM was briefed on preparations for the upcoming BRICS Chairmanship of Brazil for 2019.

At the informal SAARC Summit apart from other issues the External Affairs Minister stressed that, “Terrorism remains the single largest threat to peace and stability in our region, and indeed in the world. It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support”.

The NAM meet on Palestine provided an opportunity for India to sustain commitment to the Palestine cause that is built around three core dimensions – (i) solidarity with Palestinian people; (ii) steadfast support to the Palestinian cause; and (ii) development partnership to assist nation building and capacity building efforts.

On 27th September, 2018 the foreign ministers of IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) met for the 9th IBSA Trilateral Ministerial Commission Meeting. The Ministers reviewed IBSA cooperation over last one year and exchanged views on furthering IBSA cooperation.  The Ministers exchanged views on various issues of global significance, including peace, security, countering terrorism, Development Cooperation and South-South Cooperation.