The United Nations faces a "crisis of confidence" without comprehensive reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, asserting that the world needs a reformed multilateralism that reflects today's realities, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare.
Prime Minister Modi's call for reformed multilateralism assumes special significance as it comes on the eve of India taking a seat at the powerful UN Security Council as an elected non-permanent member for a two year term beginning January 1, 2021.
"We cannot fight today's challenges with outdated structures. Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence," Modi said on Monday in his video address to the high-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
As the UN marks 75 years of its existence, the 193-member UN General Assembly adopted a forward-looking political declaration that gave a clarion call for strengthening mechanism to combat terrorism, reformed multilateralism, inclusive development and better preparedness to deal with challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Noting that the declaration also acknowledges the need for reform of the United Nations itself, Modi said, "For today's interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today's realities, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare."
He said India looks forward to working with all other nations towards this end.
India has been spearheading decades-long efforts to reform the Security Council, saying a structure set up in 1945 does not reflect contemporary realities of the 21st century and is ill-equipped to handle current challenges.
There is widespread support, including by four of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- United States, United Kingdom, France and Russia -- for a permanent seat for India at the Council.
India's priorities for its tenure on the Security Council find 'resonance' in the Declaration that echoes New Delhi's call for strong mandate against terrorism, reformed multilateralism and inclusive development. India's overall objective during its tenure in the UN Security Council will be the achievement of N.O.R.M.S -- a New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.
In the declaration, the heads of state and government categorically noted that the world of today is very different from what it was when the United Nations was created 75 years ago.
"Our working methods need to keep pace and adapt. We support the ongoing reforms by the Secretary-General. We reiterate our call for reforms of three of the principal organs of the United Nations. We commit to instill new life in the discussions on the reform of the Security Council and continue the work to revitalise the General Assembly and strengthen the Economic and Social Council."
Addressing the special commemorative event on the UN's 75th anniversary, Modi said, "75 years ago, a new hope arose from the horrors of war. For the first time in human history, an institution was created for the entire world."
He said as a founding signatory of the UN Charter, India was part of that noble vision, which reflected India's own philosophy of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', which sees all creation as a family.
"Our world today is a better place because of the United Nations," the prime minister said.
He paid tribute to all those who have advanced the cause of peace and development under the UN flag, including in UN peacekeeping missions, where India had been a leading contributor.
India is among the largest troop contributors to UN Peacekeeping Missions, having provided over 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six decades.
India has lost more peacekeepers in the line of duty than any other UN member state and over the last 70 years, more than 160 Indian military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
Modi stressed that while much has been achieved, the original mission remains incomplete. "The far-reaching declaration that we are adopting today acknowledges that work still needs to be done in preventing conflict, in ensuring development, in addressing climate change, in reducing inequality and in leveraging digital technologies," he said.
In the Declaration, the Heads of State and Government vow to leave no one behind, protect the planet, promote peace and prevent conflicts, abide by international law and ensure justice, place women and girls at the center, build trust, improve digital cooperation, upgrade the United Nations, ensure sustainable financing, boost partnerships, listen to and work with youth and be prepared.
This year's high-level UN General Assembly is being held in a largely virtual format as world leaders did not travel to New York for the annual gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic. Heads of state and government and ministers sent in pre-recorded video statements for the high-level week, including the special commemoration of the UN's 75 years and the General Debate.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti introduced Prime Minister Modi's pre-recorded statement from the UN General Assembly Hall.