Ahead of taking on the Presidency of the powerful UN body for the month of August, India suggests that it is high time for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to consider deployment of a holistic approach addressing the issue of maritime security that safeguards common prosperity and other security interests.
“There are three major areas which we will focus on in August: maritime security, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism. We will focus on these three themes through three signature events during our Presidency,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told PTI in an interview as India prepares to preside over the 15-nation Council next month.
India is scheduled to undertake the rotating Presidency of the UN Security Council on August 1, the country’s first Presidency during its 2021-22 tenure as non-permanent member of the Security Council. India will again preside over the Council in December next year, the last month of its two-year tenure.
Tirumurti said maritime security has always received a very high priority in India’s foreign policy.
“We have been a net provider of maritime security, particularly in the Indian Ocean region. Consequently, we believe that it is time for the Security Council to take a holistic approach to the issue of maritime security that safeguards common prosperity and other security interests,” he said. The focus on the theme of maritime security is significant as this will be the first time that there will be a special discussion on the issue in the top UN body.
Tirumurti noted that while the Security Council has passed resolutions on different aspects of maritime security and maritime crime, “we feel that it is time that these are brought together and discussed it in a holistic manner.”
Counter-terrorism too is a national priority for India, Tirumurti said, underscoring that New Delhi will continue to keep the spotlight on this matter in the Council.
“We are firmly against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and believe that there could be no justification whatsoever for terrorism,” he said.
During its Presidency month, India, among the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions, will also focus on the issue of peacekeeping, strongly advocating for “proactive measures to ‘protect the protectors’.”
Peacekeeping is an issue that is “close to our hearts”, Tirumurti said, “given our own long and pioneering involvement with peacekeeping, including the involvement of women peacekeepers.”
India is among the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping with more than 5,500 military and police serving in peace operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East, Somalia, South Sudan and the Western Sahara. More than 170 peacekeepers from India laid down their lives in UN peacekeeping missions over the last seven decades.
Tirumurti noted that UN peacekeepers function in volatile situations to enforce the mandate of the Security Council. “It is incumbent upon us to ensure that their safety and security are given the highest importance. Therefore, in the larger context of peacekeeping, we will be focusing on how to ensure the safety of peacekeepers, especially by using better technology, and how to bring perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers to justice,” he said.
In May this year, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu, who has been appointed by President-elect of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid as his Chef de Cabinet, had told the Security Council that India believes that infusion of appropriate technology can play significant role in improving the safety and security of the peacekeepers.
“Use of field-focused, reliable and cost-effective new technologies in peacekeeping operations that are driven by practical needs of end users on the ground is the need of the hour,” he had said.
India in partnership with the Department of Peace Operations Department of Operational Support has been working towards development of mobile tech platform – UNITE AWARE – that helps increase situational awareness and provides terrain related information to peacekeepers. India has contributed USD 1.64 million towards this project, Naidu had said.
Tirumurti added that apart from India’s signature events focusing on the three themes of maritime security, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism, there will also be mandated meetings every month which the Security Council discusses.
The Council will take stock of situation in the Middle East, including Israel-Palestine issue, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. There will also be several mandates which will come up for renewal, including the Mali sanctions, Somalia, Central African Republic, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
“There is always a possibility that a meeting could be called on issues of conflicts which escalate during this period. Since the Security Council is the primary organ of the UN to deal with international peace and security, it should be prepared to handle any emerging issues that may crop up,” he said.
(With PTI Inputs)