Manmohan pitches for UN reforms, backs global fight against terror

By Manish Chand, IANS,

United Nations : As the India-US nuclear deal headed for the finish, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday told the UN General Assembly that the opening of international nuclear trade with India will impact positively on global energy security.

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He also made a vigorous pitch for UN reforms and for collectively fighting terrorism.

“The opening of international civilian nuclear cooperation with India will have a positive impact on global energy security and on efforts to combat climate change,” Manmohan Singh told over 170 world leaders gathered for the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly.

Manmohan Singh, who turned 76 Friday, underlined that the NSG waiver that cleared India’s re-entry into global nuclear trade was “a vindication” of “its impeccable record on non-proliferation”.

Arguing for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, he reiterated India’s “long-standing commitment to global, universal and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament” and called for the elimination of nuclear weapons in a specified time frame.

Armed with the NSG nuclear passport and a growing economy that has raised India’s global profile, Manmohan Singh made a renewed pitch for revitalizing the UN General Assembly and called for expansion of the UN Security Council “to reflect contemporary realities of the 21st century”.

“It is only a truly representative and revitalized United Nations that can become the effective focal point for the cooperative efforts of the world community. We need to expeditiously hold negotiations towards this end,” Manmohan Singh said.

Intergovernmental negotiations on the UN reforms are expected to begin in February next year.

Manmohan Singh’s last address to the UNGA during his current prime ministerial tenure was all-embracing and emphasized the need for increased global efforts to addresses international issues ranging from terrorism, UN reforms and surveillance of multilateral financial institutions to food and energy security, climate change and universal nuclear disarmament.

Manmohan Singh rallied the world leaders “to strengthen international cooperation to combat terrorism and to bring the perpetrators, organizers, financers and sponsors of terrorism to justice.”

“We should conclude expeditiously the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism,” the prime minister underlined against the backdrop of a spate of terrorist attacks in Indian cities and the surging militancy and suicide bombings in India’s neighbourhood.

Alluding to the situation in Afghanistan which he stressed was a matter of deep concern, the prime minister asked the international community “to pool all its resources to ensure the success of Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts and its emergence as a moderate, pluralistic and democratic society”. India has pledged $1.2 billion for socio-economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Lauding the return of democracy to Pakistan, Manmohan Singh underlined that India was “committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through peaceful dialogue”.

With the US financial meltdown raising the spectre of a global economic slowdown, the economist-turned-prime minister underlined the need for a new international initiative to bring structural reforms in the world’s financial system.

This can be achieved through more effective regulation and stronger systems of multilateral consultations and surveillance, the prime minister stressed.

Underlining the need for inclusive globalization, the prime minister drew the world community’s attention to “a possible food crisis, a global energy crisis and unprecedented upheavals in international financial markets”. “There is, therefore, an urgent need for coordinated action by the global community on several fronts,” he said.

Calling for a Second Green Revolution to address the problem of food security, he underscored the need for the “transfer of technology and innovation from developed to developing countries”.

With the India-US nuclear deal heading on its final journey, the prime minister also made a vigorous pitch for “economically sustainable development” and backed negotiations for the UN Framework on Climate Change. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said: “The Earth has enough resources to meet people’s needs, but will never have enough to satisfy people’s greed.”

In a spirited defence of the UN, Manmohan Singh ended his speech by projecting the UN as “a living symbol of pluralism”. “It has weathered many storms. It is the vehicle through which our combined will and efforts to address global challenges must be articulated and implemented,” he said.

“Unless we rise to the task, we would bequeath to succeeding generations a world of diminishing prospects,” he warned world leaders.