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S M Krishna warns UN of terror, skips Pak role

By Suman Guha Mozumder
September 27, 2009 09:08 IST
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External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Saturday urged the world community to urgently bring to justice the perpetrators and supporters of terrorist attack against innocent civilians of Mumbai late last year.

Without naming Pakistan, whose official agencies have been accused by New Delhi of backing the "barbaric" attack, Krishna told members of the United Nations General Assembly that the attack reminds the international community of the "daily and malignant menace" that terrorism poses to all countries.

Noting that there cannot be any justification for the mindless terrorist attack on innocent people, he said, "It is our collective responsibility and duty to work together to ensure that terrorists, organisers, perpetrators and supporters of such crimes are brought to justice."

The minister said to strengthen the international legal framework of the fight against terrorism, India had proposed a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. "Discussions on the draft have gone on for far too long. It is time that the Convention be finally adopted. India earnestly calls upon all countries to make serious efforts in the next few weeks to arrive at a consensus on the text," Krishna said.

Ahead of his expected meeting tomorrow on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, where India has said it would raise the issue of terrorism from across the border, Krishna said peace, security, stability and welfare of India's neighborhood is vital for New Delhi.

"There is a new beginning in Sri Lanka; in Nepal strengthening the peace process is in our collective interest; and in Afghanistan, the international community must remain intensively engaged and support its development efforts and the maintenance of peace and stability," he said.

"India is committed to establishing good neighborly relations and resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through peaceful dialogue," Krishna said.

But more than terrorism and regional issues, Krishna's address was devoted to a large extent to issues such as the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council, the current economic crisis and global economic growth as well as the climate change which he described as one of the most important global challenges of today.

The reason for this, as one source explained, was that "India wants to focus more on development and other issues rather than talk mostly about terrorism, an issue between India and Pakistan, in a multilateral forum such as the UNGA."

Noting that the world has changed in most fundamental ways in the past several decades since the United Nations came into being which requires global approaches and solutions on the part of the world body, Krishna wondered whether the UN is fit to act up to the challenges.

"In the context of these rapidly emerging changes and their deep and diverse effect, we must introspect more deeply on whether the United Nations and other global governance structures are geared to effectively meet the challenges that confront us all.

"It is of concern that even after more than six decades, international governance structures are neither inclusive nor participatory. Consequently, these structures and institutions have not kept pace or evolved, with the changed nature, the intensity and the depth of contemporary global issues," Krishna said.

"The question therefore is: are these institutions able enough to address these challenges either adequately or satisfactorily," he asked.

Krishna said the reform and restructuring of the global governance architecture is the critical need of the present time, and the voice of the developing world, including the small island nations and of Africa, is of principal and core relevance, if one has to have truly participatory and global responses to global challenges.

Noting that the economic and financial turmoil, which did not begin in the developing world, have affected developing countries the most, he said the international response to this challenge has to be not only the measures that have been taken to stimulate economies but more importantly, to find ways to restructure the current international governance system which has failed to respond to the virulence of the financial and economic crisis.

"To gloss over this structural deficit of the current global financial and economic architecture, would imperil the future of a vast majority of the peoples of this world and presage greater difficulties in the future," Krishna said.

It is imperative, he said, that the United Nations act in concert to coherently overcome these challenges, adding that India, which is actively engaged in the G-20 and other processes, has always stressed that developing countries must receive priority in any global response to the crisis.

On the issue of the reform of the United Nations, which he said is a matter of utmost priority, Krishna said four years after the 2005 World Summit, there has not been much progress even as newer and more global crises and problems have emerged.

"We should not let slowness of action weaken the organization in the face of such challenges. Rather, we must work in concert to make it more robust and capable of effective response. Reform in the three essentials of the Charter -- peace and security, development, and human rights -- require our collective attention," he said.

Krishna aid that General Assembly must be revitalised in full measure and its role as the anvil of global deliberation must be strengthened and the ECOSOC must become the fulcrum of development.

"It must be accepted that the Security Council must be strengthened and made more representative by expanding its permanent and non-permanent membership. Ongoing intergovernmental negotiations during the last six months have unambiguously established that an overwhelming majority of member States share the perspective that expansion in both categories of membership of the Security Council is needed," he said.

"India is committed to working with member states to making the United Nations more relevant and tuned in to contemporary realities," he said.

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Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations