India has a historical past of memorable “August presidencies” of the United Nations Safety Council. Throughout its 2011 presidency, occasions in Libya posed a diplomatic problem. Precisely 10 years later, on this staycation month a geopolitical earthquake, and the ensuing tectonic shifts in Afghanistan challenged the presidency.
India handed the check with flying colors. Sustaining calm, India centered on safeguarding and advancing its nationwide curiosity and the worldwide public items of counterterrorism, peace and safety. What set our 2021 presidency aside was the highest-level engagement and management of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He laid out India’s imaginative and prescient and vowed to provide “voice” to the unrepresented in a brand new multilateralism. He made historical past by changing into the primary PM of India to chair and deal with the UNSC, and that, too, to mobilise on an pressing matter of world concern — maritime safety.
The Indian presidency delivered the best variety of outcomes (14), with 5 full-fledged resolutions on the state of affairs in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Center East, Mali and the UN peacekeeping operations, 4 presidential statements (PRST) together with on West Africa and Sudan, and 5 press statements — three responding in actual time to developments in Afghanistan, together with the Kabul airport terrorist assault.
India organised occasions round three signature themes of maritime safety, peacekeeping and counterterrorism to construct a brand new worldwide consensus and to replace the principles of the sport. The August 9 occasion was pathbreaking in evolving a holistic idea of maritime safety, the position of UNCLOS, the liberty of navigation — a delicate matter given China’s muscle-flexing within the South China Sea. The result superior Indian safety pursuits whereas contributing in direction of a brand new worldwide maritime safety order.
The occasion on “Defending the protectors: expertise and peacekeeping” resulted within the first-ever decision on accountability for crimes in opposition to peacekeepers and the primary PRST on expertise upgradation for peacekeepers. The Exterior Affairs Minister chaired an occasion on “Threats to worldwide peace and safety attributable to terrorist acts”, bringing deal with the continued terrorist threats and assaults, the early conclusion of the Complete Conference in opposition to Worldwide Terrorism, and India’s eight-point motion plan — all to bolster the simply revised UN International Counter Terrorism Technique.
India’s consultative energy was deployed on points like Myanmar, Mali and Somalia, Center East, Ethiopia, Haiti and DPRK. However its diplomatic sagacity and agility had been examined most by the developments in Afghanistan.
Considerably, the UNSC Decision 2593 adopted on August 30 responded to critical considerations about Taliban-ruled Afghanistan changing into a haven for terrorist teams and getting a free run to mount assaults on neighbouring nations and the world. It demanded that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or assault any nation or to shelter or prepare terrorists, or to plan or finance terrorist acts.
It recognized people and entities designated by the UNSC decision 1267 — which, for India, consists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) — and the significance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, noting related commitments of the Taliban. Opposite to some buzz concerning the lacking “T” phrases, there are three “T” phrases – terrorism, terrorist entities and Taliban accountability.
Different main benchmarks included the Taliban permitting secure evacuation of foreigners and abiding by its August 27 assertion that Afghans will be capable of journey overseas at any time and exit through any border level. It urged all events to permit full, secure, and unhindered entry to the UN and all humanitarian actors for reduction exercise, donor help to Afghanistan and main Afghan refugee-hosting nations and respect for worldwide humanitarian regulation, together with the safety of civilians.
The Taliban was requested to uphold human rights, together with these of ladies, youngsters and minorities — which in India’s case bears on the well-being of Hindu and Sikh Afghans. All events had been requested to hunt an inclusive, negotiated political settlement, with equal participation of ladies, and safeguard the positive factors of the previous 20 years on the rule of regulation and human rights.
India was thus ready to make sure that the UNSC Decision 2593 laid down some basic benchmarks to information the worldwide group on calibrating its relations with the rising Taliban regime and setting requirements of behaviour and coverage for it, whether it is to win diplomatic recognition and financial and political help.
The US cite the benchmarking for home and strategic functions. France and the UK have warned that the Taliban authorities will likely be judged on the implementation of the decision. For Russia, it was a second of candy revenge to see the US relive its personal humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan. South Caucasian safety considerations stay, however the Taliban risk might carry Central Asian nations nearer to Russia. China used the decision for grandstanding as the brand new, benign superpower, supporting Afghanistan in opposition to “hegemonists”.
Each Russia and China sought to painting themselves as champions of the Taliban, refusing to help a decision that “turned the tables on Taliban” when the US’s “20 years failed occupation” and “its hasty withdrawal” had been the culprits. On counterterrorism, they wished a balanced strategy to incorporate their terrorists of concern, together with the East Turkestan Islamic Motion (ETIM).
Given these objections, that India was in a position to persuade them to not veto the decision and solely abstain, was a diplomatic win. All UNSC members praised India’s presidency and acknowledged the worth added by India in constructing bridges within the midst of polarised UNSC dynamics, strengthening its declare for everlasting membership.
This column first appeared within the print version on September 10, 2021 beneath the title ‘A win at UN excessive desk’. The author is former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and deputy govt director of UN Girls.