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Head of Security Council reform process replaced ahead of renewed negotiations

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United Nations: As the General Assembly prepares for intensified talks on Security Council reforms next month, the Jamaican diplomat who brokered a major breakthrough in the stalled process has been replaced as head of the politically complex negotiations.

General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft announced the appointment of Luxembourg’s Permanent Representative Sylvie Lucas to replace Jamaica’s Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray in a letter to permanent representatives Friday. His letter endorsed the general direction of the negotiating process and encouraged members to continue with it and “build on the momentum and progress” made in the last General Assembly session.

Lykketoft’s letter made no mention of Rattray, who took over as head of the reform process known as the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) last year and broke decades of stalemate to produce a document with which the negotiations could go forward.

Sources at the UN who follow the reform process said that the Jamaican government had asked Rattray to step down asserting that he was overextending the nation’s limited diplomatic resources.

However, according to sources from the region with knowledge of the inner workings of Jamaican politics, China had pressured Jamaica into pulling him out of the IGN because of his efficiency in moving the reform process forward. China used some infrastructure projects as a lever, according to the sources.

Beijing strongly opposes Security Council reforms that could potentially bring in India and Japan as permanent members.

China, however, may not have gained by displacing Rattray because it does not have much leverage with Luxembourg, which supports the expansion of the Security Council.

Lucas has long experience in the UN system and a knowledge of its working. She has been the permanent representative since 2008 and did a five-year stint as the deputy permanent representative in the 1990s.

She has held one of the rotating presidencies of the Security Council when Luxembourg was an elected member in 2013 and 2014 and served as a president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). A diplomat who has dealt with her at the UN described her a “tough” negotiator and a tireless advocate for issues of women and security.

When the negotiating text for reforms came up before the General Assembly on Sept. 14, China folded when it saw that the overwhelming majority of UN members were for it and allowed its adoption unanimously. This was first major breakthrough in moving the reform process forward

The current round of reform negotiations was mandated by the General Assembly in 2008 but it was caught in a Catch-22 trap as discussions could not take place meaningfully without a text for the framework of discussions leading to a consensus or a decision, while those opposed to reforms blocked it saying there couldn’t be such a document unless there was a consensus first.

The opponents of the negotiating text included a caucus of 13 countries that called themselves Uniting for Change (UfC). Italy led the group, which included Pakistan.

Rattray, who was appointed the chair of the IGN by the president of the last session of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, polled the members of the UN on their views of Security Council reform. And against stiff opposition from some he produced the negotiating text that was adopted, effectively ending the stalemate and setting the stage for negotiations to resume next month.

Ahead of next month’s renewed IGN talks, Lykketoft has called for a General Assembly plenary debate Friday on equitable representation on the Security Council and increasing its membership.

Lykketoft wrote to member delegations, “I am confident that the forthcoming negotiations will build on the momentum and the progress made during the 69th session.”

He added, “I encourage Member States to continue moving this process forward pursuant to decision” by the General Assembly adopting the negotiating text, and the positions of and proposals made by members that was circulated by Kutesa.

(Arul Louis,IANS)

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.