Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while delivering the keynote address at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) annual High-Level Segment yesterday, gave a clarion call for reforming the multinational organization, and also pushed for “reformed multilateralism” in a post-COVID world, with the UN lying at the centre of the said reform and leading by example. Right after PM Modi was done with his address, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi called for preserving the UN system and supporting it, rather than changing it unilaterally. The theme of this year’s session was ‘Multilateralism after COVID19: What kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary’.
PM Modi said, “Today, while celebrating 75 years of the United Nations, let us pledge to reform the global multilateral system. To enhance its relevance, to improve its effectiveness, and to make it the basis of a new type of human-centric globalisation. The United Nations was originally born from the furies of the Second World War. Today, the fury of the pandemic provides the context for its rebirth and reform.” He further added, “However, multilateralism needs to represent the reality of the contemporary world. Only reformed multilateralism with a reformed United Nations at its centre can meet the aspirations of humanity.” Apart from reforming the United Nations, PM Modi also spoke of India’s role in handling global crises, health and natural calamities, and further elucidated on various welfare schemes undertaken by his government, which were benefitting millions of Indians now, more than ever.
However, PM Modi stressed on reforming the UN, and that is significant. This was the Prime Minister’s first address to the United Nations after India was elected as a non-permanent member to the UNSC for a period of two years on June 17. It has been a long-standing demand of India to be given permanent membership of the all-important security council, and while four of the present permanent member states have supported India’s bid for a seat on the table, China continues to create hurdles in the same.
The United Nations Organisation came up as a direct result of World War II, and was conceived keeping in mind the inability of a previous such organization, the League of Nations (LON), from preventing a world war. The LON was disbanded due to its reluctance to reform, and if the UNO of today continues down the same path, with each passing moment, it is nearing its grave. The current United Nations setup is still based upon the notion of some countries being victors in wars fought 70 years ago. PM Modi has made it amply clear with his speech yesterday, that such a setup must change.
The UN’s specialised agencies, case in point being the UNHRC, are heavily compromised and hugely biased. The organisation is riddled with political bias today, and its narrative is obnoxiously anti-Semitic and anti-India. The WHO, for example, has also only recently exhibited itself as a true specimen of what a Chinese puppet would look like. With Hagia Sophia being converted by Erdogan into a mosque, the UNESCO could not muster enough courage, and merely said that the development was ‘regrettable’.
India rightfully deserves a permanent seat at the UNSC, and only then will the UN come to represent the realities of the present world. Without accepting such realities, the UN will continue to remain a sham of an intergovernmental and multilateral organisation. It must pay heed to PM Modi’s clarion call of reforming itself, and immediately do the needful to be better equipped to handle the challenges which a post-COVID world would be posing.