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India continued to push strongly for a reformed U.N.-led multilateral system during what was a busy week in Indian diplomacy at the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 77th session last week in New York.
Reforms, as The Hindu’s Sriram Lakshman reported from the U.N., have been a central theme of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit. On Thursday (September 22), Jaishankar made a strong case for U.N. Security Council (UNSC) reforms along with his “G4” counterparts - from Brazil, Germany and Japan. The group reiterated its commitment to pushing forward reforms and expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of progress.
The Indian Minister, the following day, along with members of the U.N. reform-oriented ‘L.69’ group of developing countries, backed a ‘Call to Action’ joint statement on reforms. The countries said they recognised that the “lack of progress” in UNSC reform had “serious implications” not just for the relevance of such institutions but also for global peace and security.
As the Minister wrapped up a week at the U.N. and headed to Washington for bilateral engagements, he told the media it would be premature to comment on positions that countries, including India, are taking on the reforms process, such as the issue of whether any permanent membership for India came with veto power. Indeed, that is one of only many issues that the reforms process, which has largely stalled, is grappling with. If, this year, the calls do seem louder, the fact is the road ahead could be just as long as the road of 77 years past, says The Hindu’s Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar in this week’s Worldview, where she asks if India’s UNSC reforms push is a possibility or remains a pipe-dream.
A Flavour of India’s Diplomacy
In keeping with “multi-alignment” being the buzzword in India’s diplomacy, India’s diplomatic engagements on the sidelines of the UNGA provided a flavour of the current approach. On the one hand, the Indian External Affairs Minister, in a meeting with his counterparts of the Quad group of countries – India, the U.S., Australia, and Japan – signed a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) partnership into effect. The Minister also met with his BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa - counterparts and held a bilateral with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, where the two discussed Ukraine as well as U.N. reforms.
Reading China’s tea-leaves
If the past weekend saw rumours about China’s politics swing into overdrive on social media - most of it unsubstantiated speculation - recent developments in Beijing only further indicated President Xi Jinping’s growing sway ahead of the upcoming October 16 twice-a-decade congress. In a message to rivals and challengers, on Friday (September 23) a senior former Chinese security official accused of challenging Xi’s authority was given a life sentence, after being accused of massive corruption of close to $100 million in bribes over two decades, as well as the more serious charge of “endangering political security”. Sun Lijun’s sentencing followed that of other senior law and security officials who were accused of being part of a “clique” that had challenged Xi’s rule as the “core” of the party.
Meanwhile on Sunday (September 25), the ruling Communist Party announced it had chosen the 2,296 delegates who will attend the week-long Congress and approve important changes to the Party Constitution. Among considered constitutional amendments is a move to officially mark Xi’s status as a “core” of the party leadership and to require all Party members to commit to upholding Xi’s “core” status as well as ideology.
The Top Five
What we are reading this week - the best of The Hindu’s Opinion and Analysis
- The Global South’s assertion in geopolitics | Anuradha M. Chenoy on the Global South’s new agency in a changing world, with several countries finding that neutrality and strategic autonomy have become a viable option.
- A ground plan for India’s reformed multilateralism | Harsh Pant and Vivek Mishra explain how New Delhi’s call for a structural overhaul of global multilateral institutions incorporates institutional accountability and a wider representation of the developing countries.
- How will Putin’s mobilisation impact Ukraine? | Stanly Johny explains.
- A risky new status quo | Arzan Tarapore on why despite the latest border disengagement, the Line of Actual Control situation - and the broader China challenge - remains fraught with risks for India.
- Reports of Sri Lankans rescued in Ukraine put Colombo in spot | Meera Srinivasan on how the rescue of Sri Lankans by Ukrainian authorities from the Kharkiv region have put Colombo, which maintains close ties with Russia, on a sticky diplomatic wicket.