International

U.N.-75 declaration delayed

Political posturing: A file photo of a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York.

Political posturing: A file photo of a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York.   | Photo Credit: JOHANNES EISELE

Six countries oppose a ‘Chinese’ phrase in the document

In a battle of and for words, a commemorative declaration marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter was delayed as member states could not reach an agreement on phraseology. The Five Eyes — the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada — along with India, objected to the use of a phrase “shared vision of a common future”, associated with China. The document still stands a chance of passing on the June 26th anniversary if no objections are raised to an alternatively worded statement before 6 p.m. New York time.

The phrase, “community with a shared future for mankind” is closely associated with the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and especially Chinese President Xi Jinping as an articulation of the country’s vision for the world. While objecting to the language that is apparently inspired by the CPC ideology is not new, the current impasse comes at a time when China’s relationships with a number of democracies, including India, Australia and the U.S., are strained.

The language and theme in question, while associated with the Chinese government, has been used outside China by other countries, including at the 2019 Commonwealth Summit, UNA-UK, a non-profit that promotes U.K. action at the U.N., said on its website.

The ‘silence’ process (a procedure by which a resolution passes if no formal objections are raised within a stipulated time) was broken at the request of the U.K.’s UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen, who wrote a letter dated June 24 on behalf of the six countries to the President of the 74th General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, suggesting alternative wording. The Hindu was able to access a copy of this letter.

Alternative wording

The objecting countries wanted the resolution to read, “We will work together with partners to strengthen coordination and global governance for the common good of present and future generations and to realize our shared vision for a better future as envisaged in the preamble of the UN Charter.” The Hindu has learned that China, on behalf of itself and Russia, Syria and Pakistan raised objections to the silence being broken.

Given the impasse, General Assembly President Muhammad-Bande had suggested, on June 25, an alternatively phrased declaration, which he placed under the silence procedure (i.e., it passes if no official objections are raised) until midnight New York time on June 25. The proposed change, available on the UN website, read: “We will work together with partners to strengthen coordination and global governance for the common future of present and coming generations.”

This latest silence period has been extended to 6 p.m. New York time on June 26, well after celebrations to mark the day had kicked off in the morning.

Taking a position against UN resolutions, including issues around the provenance of language (and Chinese phraseology) are neither new nor specific to India and the U.S. Negotiations at the UN happen in groups or individually. Countries are known to allow text to go through due to group dynamics or in the interest of a larger goal, while at other times they may object. Since outcomes on the commemorative declaration are by consensus, countries have more latitude about what they may allow to pass.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 10:08:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/un-75-declaration-delayed/article31927129.ece

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