PM calls for early reform of UN Security Council

PM calls for early reform of UN Security Council United Nations: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday made a powerful call for early reform and expansion of the UN Security Council "to reflect contemporary reality" and asked nations not to allow the global economic slowdown to trigger protectionism through various barriers.

Participating in the High Level Segment of the world body after a gap of three years, Singh made an address to the General Assembly in which he also made it clear that the fight against terrorism cannot be selective and has to be fought on all fronts.

After meetings of the G-4 countries including India, Brazil, German and Japan pushing for reform of the UNSC in which India wants to be a permanent member, the Prime Minister said the world needed a stronger and more effective UN.

UNSC reform

"We need a United Nations that is sensitive to the aspirations of everyone - rich or poor, big or small. For this the United Nations and its principal organs, the General Assembly and the Security Council, must be revitalised and reformed."

"The reform and expansion of the Security Council are essential if it is to reflect contemporary reality. Such an outcome will enhance the Council's credibility and effectiveness in dealing with global issues. Early reform of the Security Council must be pursued with renewed vigour and urgently enacted," Singh said in his 15-minute address.

Movement for democracy

In the midst of controversies raging over the issue of "interventions" in the trouble spots of the Middle East, Singh said the observance of the rule of law is as important in international affairs as it is within countries.

"Societies cannot be reordered from outside through military force. People in all countries have the right to choose their own destiny and decide their own future," the Prime Minister said.

The international community, he said, has a role to play in assisting in the processes of transition and institution building but the idea that prescriptions have to be imposed from outside is fraught with danger.

"Actions taken under the authority of the United Nations must respect the unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of individual states," he said.

Threats to global economy

As a seasoned economist whose views on international economy is much sought after in the global power corridors, Singh touched on the current situation saying the "world economy is in trouble".

"The shoots of recovery which were visible after the economic and financial crisis of 2008 have yet to blossom. In many respects the crisis has deepened even further."

Singh said the traditional engines of the global economy such as the US, Europe and Japan, which are also the sources of global economic and financial stability, are faced with continued economic slowdown. Recessionary trends in these countries were affecting confidence in world financial and capital markets.

These developments, he said, are bound to have a negative impact on developing countries which also have to bear the additional burden of inflationary pressures.

"Declining global demand and availability of capital, increasing barriers to free trade and mounting debt pose a threat to the international monetary and financial system. Questions are being asked about the efficacy of the Bretton Woods institutions," he said.

The Prime Minister said countries should not allow the global economic slowdown to become a trigger for building walls around themselves through protectionism or erecting barriers to movement of people, services and capital.

"Effective ways and means must be deployed to promote coordination of macro-economic policies of major economies. The reform of governance systems of international financial institutions ought to be pursued with speed and efficiency," he said.

Singh said the development agenda must be brought firmly back to the centre stage of the United Nations' priorities.

"We need a much more determined effort to ensure balanced, inclusive and sustainable development for the benefit of vast sections of humanity. Each of us can contribute to this task but we can achieve far more if we act in partnership," he said.

"It is vitally important that through our actions and deeds we renew people's faith in the charter and objectives of the United Nations. I am confident we can do this through statesmanship, foresight and collective efforts, India stands ready to play its part in this noble endeavour," Singh said.

Crisis in Africa

"We have to pay particular attention to Africa. Africa's richest resources are not its minerals but its people. We have to empower them and open the doors for them to human advances in technology, education and skill development," he said.

Singh said the United Nations should lead efforts in the area of food security. "We need more cooperation in agricultural technologies, water conservation, land usage and productivity and stability in commodity prices," he said.

Nuclear safety

Amid concerns over the safety of atomic plants, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made it clear that India will pursue nuclear energy after "full satisfaction" about this aspect and is ready to work with IAEA to enhance safety and security levels.

"Our plans for utilising nuclear power to meet our energy needs hinge upon full satisfaction about the safety of nuclear energy. We have undertaken a thorough review of the safety of our nuclear plants," he told the gathering.

"We support international efforts under the aegis of the International Atomic Energy Agency to enhance levels of safety and security," the Prime Minister said.