India beats China for seat at key UN body

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 10:06

New York: In a significant victory,
India has been elected to the United Nations` Joint Inspection
Unit (JIU), defeating China in a direct fight for the lone
seat from the Asia-Pacific region and returning to this
powerful external oversight body after a gap of 35 years.

India`s permanent representative to the UN offices in
Geneva, A Gopinathan defeated Zhang Yan, China`s Ambassador in
New Delhi, to assume a place on the JIU for a five-year term
starting on January 1, 2013.

India won with a clear majority of 106 votes out of the
183 cast, while China got 77 votes. India has served only once
on the JIU 35 years ago from 1968 to 1977.

The JIU election was the first time ever that India was
locked in a "direct contest" with China in the UN General
Assembly.

"We are thrilled. The important thing is that this was a
straight contest because it involves a country which is the
world`s second largest economy and which has growing
diplomatic reach," India`s Permanent Representative to the UN
Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said.

A visibly beaming Puri said he was "very confident" about
the country`s chances as it had a "good candidate" and also
because of "India`s standing" at the multilateral body.

Countries are elected to the JIU for five years and
typically extend their term for another five years.

China had held its seat for 10 years and its term was to
expire in December 2012.

It was assumed that China would not seek to re-contest
for the post.

But "low and behold, they decided to put up their
Ambassador in Delhi (for the JIU election). This is even more
significant," an official at the Indian mission to the UN
said.

Yan was recently embroiled in a controversy when he told
an Indian journalist in New Delhi to "shut up" after the
scribe asked the ambassador to comment on a map of India,
distributed by a state-owned Chinese firm, that did not show
some parts of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh in the Indian
territory.

"The big countries want to make permanent membership of
the JIU also. India has been able to challenge that," he said.

Puri said winning the election "is of very high
importance as JIU is an important body. But the fact that we
can contest an election of this kind and win will hopefully
provide assurance to my friends and colleagues at headquarters
that we need not be so risk averse."

While India won by a comfortable margin, officials at
the Indian mission said China had been using its "margin of
persuasion" as well as its "fairly strong electoral machine"
to garner votes in its favour.

India on its part too used a "counter-margin of
persuasion," the official added.

The JIU is an independent external oversight body of the
United Nations system, mandated to conduct evaluations,
inspections and investigations system-wide.

It is composed of not more than 11 Inspectors serving for
a term of five years, renewable once.

The election was for the appointment of an Inspector from
Asia, for a term starting on January 1 2013, on the completion
of the term of an Inspector that was secured by China in 2003
and will be held by them for 10 years till 2012.

The election to the UN body is the latest in a series of
wins that India has been adding to its UN resume.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 10:06

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