India has called for reforms that will include representation of Africa in the UN Security Council to give voice to the continent.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made the call at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday in New York.
He said Security Council should be expanded, saying: “We must address global challenges imbued with the conviction that we are one earth and one family, with one future.”
Jaishankar recalled the recent G20 Summit and said India’s Presidency focused on the key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few.
“At a time when East-West polarisation is so sharp and North-South divide so deep, the New Delhi Summit also affirms that diplomacy and dialogue are the only effective solutions.
“The international order is diverse, and we must cater for divergences, if not differences,” he said.
“The days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over,” he said.
The minister noted outcomes from the Summit, including an action plan for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), environment initiatives, highlighting international financial institutions reform and the admission of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20.
“By doing so, we gave voice to an entire continent which has long been its due,” he said, and in that context, urging reforms to the UN Security Council.
The Indian envoy said that days when a few nations set the global agenda and “expected others to fall in line” were over, noting that we often advocate the promotion of a rules-based order.
“From time to time, respect for the UN Charter is also invoked.
“But for all the talk, there are still a few nations who shape the agenda and seek to define the norms. This cannot go on indefinitely. Nor will it go unchallenged.”
Jaishankar also highlighted the pressing issue of structural inequalities, uneven development, and their impact on sustainable development, particularly in the countries of the global South.
Addressing the Assembly’s general debate, he emphasised that these disparities, coupled with the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequences of ongoing conflicts and tensions have resulted in a setback in socioeconomic progress achieved in recent years.
“Resources for sustainable development are severely challenged. And many countries really struggle to make ends meet,” he said.
The minister said that all nations pursue their national interests, which India does not see as being in contradiction with global good.
“When we aspire to be a leading power, this is not for self-aggrandisement but to take on greater responsibility and make more contributions.
“The goals we have set for ourselves will make us different from all those whose rise preceded ours,” he said.
He also highlighted India’s collaboration globally, including assisting with disaster response in Türkiye and Syria, supporting Sri Lanka during its economic crisis, and his country’s contributions to food security, technology, and climate action.
Domestically, he said, one-third of the seats in India’s legislatures are reserved for women by adopting a “path breaking legislation”.
“Next year’s Summit of the Future should be an opportunity to drive change, champion fairness and reform multilateralism,” Jaishankar said.