India to focus on maritime security, counterterrorism and peacekeeping during UNSC August presidency

Modi, Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla are expected to chair Security Council meetings

Updated - August 01, 2021 11:55 am IST

Published - July 31, 2021 12:41 pm IST

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti. File

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti. File

As it begins its month-long presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), India is set to hold high-level meetings and briefings to bring focus to its three priorities for the month: maritime security, counterterrorism, and peacekeeping, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations T.S. Tirumurti said in a video message released on Twitter on Saturday.

On August 9, India will organise a virtual high-level Open Debate for heads of state and government titled, ‘Maintenance of international peace and security: Enhancing maritime security — A case for international cooperation’ according to a government press statement. Countries will discuss coordination to tackle maritime crime and security issues.

Coordination between U.N., FATF

India will also organise a Minister-level meeting titled, ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts’ at the end of August. India is seeking to enhance coordination between the U.N. and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog, as well as address the linkages between terror and transnational crime.

Another ministerial open debate on peacekeeping, ‘United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Technology and Peacekeeping’ will be held on August 18. India is one of the top troop contributors to the U.N.’s peacekeeping missions and is looking for ways to use technology to better protect peacekeeping forces. It is also looking at ways to address crimes against peacekeepers. India expects to deploy a mobile app — UNITE AWARE — that will provide terrain information and “improve situational awareness” for U.N. peacekeepers, the country’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N., K Nagaraj Naidu, told the UNSC in May, as per a PTI report.

India had taken a “principled and forward-looking position” on various issues since its tenure at the UNSC began in January, Mr. Tirumurti said in his message.

“We have been proactive. We have focused on issues of our priority. We have made efforts to bridge the different voices within the Council to ensure that the Council comes together and speaks in one voice on a variety of important issues of the day,” he said.

Navigating this path has meant that India has sometimes abstained from votes at the Council and the larger U.N. system, abstentions it has been criticised for. For instance, in June this year, India was one of 36 countries that abstained from a U.N. General Assembly vote on an arms embargo on Myanmar, despite condemning the violence and saying there can be “no turning back” on Myanmar’s democratic transition. India, which shares a border with Myanmar and exports arms to the country, said its concerns were not reflected in the draft resolution.

Escalation in conflict

Other meetings related to international peace and security could be convened during the course of August, as needs arise – for example if there is an escalation in conflict. Afghanistan, along with Israel-Palestine, Syria, Lybia and Iraq will come up for discussion in August: these conflicts are regularly discussed at the Council. India already chairs the Taliban Sanctions Committee and Libya Sanctions Committee for 2021. The future of Afghanistan and the fallout for the region is at present a top-level priority for India, as U.S. and allied troops complete their withdrawal process.

The government is keen to showcase the fact that India’s UNSC presidency coincides with its 75th Independence Day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla are expected to chair Security Council meetings during the course of the month. Mr. Modi will do this virtually, while  Mr Jaishankar could possibly to travel to New York City for some of the meetings, depending on the schedule of the meetings, which will be known August 1, following the adoption of the work program, according to government sources that spoke with The Hindu .

( With inputs from Suhasini Haidar in New Delhi)

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