Siddharth Varadarajan

Leaders stress need for collective action on principal global issues

Call for comprehensive peace in Middle East

India pleased with formulation on climate change

Sharm-el-Sheikh: In a concluding declaration barely five pages long, Non-Aligned Movement leaders ended their summit here on Thursday with an agenda that was both focused and compact, emphasising the need for collective action on the principal global issues of the day.

From disarmament and terrorism to climate change, the financial crisis and Palestine, there was virtually no global problem of relevance to the developing world that was ignored. Yet, by spelling out a future agenda in only 18 substantive paragraphs — as opposed to the 280 contained in the last NAM document in Havana in 2006 — the 118-nation grouping has increased the likelihood of the summit declaration being taken seriously by its own members and the rest of the world.

It is another matter that for the world’s media, the summit was largely overshadowed by the much anticipated meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Nuclear-free world

On disarmament, the NAM leaders agreed to engage constructively with “concrete actions” the nuclear weapons states are obliged to take towards disarmament as well as recent statements by U.S. President Barack Obama and others to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

The NAM leaders strongly endorsed the need for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based, inter alia, on the recent Arab Peace Initiative in its entirety. They called for the establishment of an independent, contiguous and viable state in Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and said they stood firmly against all settlement activity illegally undertaken by Israel in the Occupied Territories.

In a reflection of divisions within the NAM on the precise nature of Security Council reform, the declaration emphasised the need to restore the balance between the principal organs of the United Nations and reaffirm the role and authority of the General Assembly. Though India and other countries favour enlargement of the permanent category of SC membership, the declaration said “the expeditious reform of the SC through its expansion and improvement of its working methods should continue to be a priority for NAM taking duly into consideration the views of all NAM member states.”

The same qualifier was included in the paragraph calling for the early finalisation of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism — an Indian-sponsored initiative — reflecting continuing differences over some clauses of the proposed terrorism compact.

Though India is happy with this general endorsement, it is especially pleased with the formulation on climate change because it calls for strengthening the political momentum in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference “in a manner that duly reflects the views of NAM countries with regard to mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, capacity building and shared vision in accordance with the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.”

Of late, there has been renewed pressure by the U.S. and other industrialised countries for this principle to be diluted and for developing countries to take on a greater share of the burden of averting global warming.

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