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2013 - A milestone year for the United Nations

Last Updated: Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 14:12

United Nations: The year 2013 turned out to be a milestone for the United Nations when after years of inertia it found diplomatic solutions to two major issues - Syrian chemical weapons and Iran`s contested nuclear programme - but the brazen killing of peacekeepers, including Indians, highlighted complex challenges faced by the world body.

The powerful UN Security Council in October agreed on a deal to eliminate Syria`s chemical weapons stockpiles by mid-2014 after days of back-room negotiations.

The Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons - the body supervising the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons - won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its achievement.

In another breakthrough, the five permanent members of UN Security Council and Germany signed a landmark deal with Iran over its nuclear programme, raising hope for a rapprochement between Iran and the US as the pact also represents the first formal agreement between the two countries in 34 years.

The deal consists of a short-term freeze of portions of nuclear programme in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.

But all was not well for the UN in 2013, as the year also brought sad news for the world body and India, one of the major troops contributing countries to peacekeeping missions.

Two Indian peacekeepers were killed and another injured in December while defending a UN base in South Sudan, highlighting a complex challenges for UN peace operations.

The attack was the second in eight months in South Sudan, the newest country in the world, in which Indian troops suffered casualties. In April, five Indian peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in South Sudan.

The year also saw a crucial meeting between India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met for the first time and discussed ways to normalise bilateral ties, in the grim backdrop of India`s concerns over continued terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Amid growing global frustration over lack of progress in implementing crucial UN Security Council reforms, India led the clarion call in 2013 for a "results-based timeline" in achieving concrete results by 2015 as it stressed that the process to reform the UN body cannot go on indefinitely.

The call for urgent UNSC reforms was reiterated by Prime Minister Singh when he addressed the annual General Assembly.

Indian envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji said getting a permanent seat at the Security Council is a "top priority" for India and the Council needs to be reformed in such a way that India becomes a permanent member of a reformed Council.

First Published: Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 14:12

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