Statement by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Permanent Representative of India to the UN, at the UNSC Open Debate on “Effective Multilateralism through the Defense of the Principles of UN Charter

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24 April 2023

Thank you Mr. President.

We thank the Russian Federation for organizing this timely Open Debate on a topic of growing relevance. I also thank the briefers for their insights. There are two key aspects to the title of today’s debate. Promoting “Effective Multilateralism” and doing it, as the Chair calls it “through the Defence of the Principles of the UN Charter”.

  1. Even as we debate this issue and would like “effective multilateralism” to prevail, we are collectively aware of the inadequacies of the multilateral system that has failed to respond to contemporary challenges, whether it be the COVID pandemic or the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Moreover, significant global challenges such as terrorism, radicalism, climate justice and climate action, disruptive non-state actors, debt and several geopolitical contestations continue to undermine global peace and security.
  2. Given this context, today’s debate should address THREE pressing questions:

Question One. Can we practice “multilateralism effectively” in the 21st century through a body that celebrates the principle “to the victor belong the spoils” privileged more than three generations ago?

Question Two. Can we actually promote “effective multilateralism” through defending a UN Charter where two of the permanent members have not been able to get even their names changed? Article 109 of the Charter never wanted it to be cast in stone for perpetuity, and that’s why it had recommended a General Review Conference of the Charter to be held before the 10th UN General Assembly. 77 years later, we are nowhere closer to making that a reality.

Question Three. Can we practice “effective multilateralism” by defending a Charter that makes five nations more equal than others, and provides to each of those five the power to ignore the collective will of the remaining 188 member states?

Mr. President, how much longer will we keep decorating “effective” multilateralism with the intent of reforming multilateralism with only words and mere lip service?

  1. Our starting premise has to be widening the representation of this core institution, the Security Council to more developing countries for its effectiveness and credibility. If we continue to perpetuate the 1945 anachronistic mindset, we will continue to lose the faith our people have in the United Nations.
  2. India, was a founding signatory to the UN Charter when it was signed on 26 June 1945 in San Francisco. 77 years later, when we see the world’s largest democracy, along with entire continents of Africa and Latin America, being kept out of global decision-making, we rightly call for a major course correction.
  3. In this regard, I am happy to note that the recent report of UNSG’s High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, which has recognized the inevitability of reform of the Security Council and has called for a renewed effort in this direction. To quote from the Report, “the Summit of the Future is an opportunity to reaffirm our common commitment to the UN Charter and announce a Charter Review conference focused on Security Council reform”.
  4. This past September, the UNGA heard the similar call for reforms from more than 70 global leaders. As my External Affairs Minister said in this Council’s Open Debate on 14 December 2022, and I quote, “Our Common Agenda and the Summit of the Future will only deliver results, if they respond to the growing calls for reformed multilateralism. Reform is the need of the day. And I am confident that the Global South especially shares India’s determination to persevere”.
  5. Multilateral institutions rarely die. They simply fade into irrelevance. Once upon a time there was a very long distance between the “Model UN” role play in colleges and universities and the real world. Is that distance shrinking?

Thank you!

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