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Mukerji’s efforts start negotiations in Security Council

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United Nations: Efforts of Asoke Kumar Mukerji, who worked constantly as India’s top diplomat at the UN, has helped in the start of serious negotiations in Security Council.

His peers at the UN acknowledge the leadership of Mukerji in mobilising support for the text-based negotiations to break decades of deadlock and standing up to last minute machinations against it during his tenure as India’s Permanent Representative that ended in December.

“Ambassador Mukerji is a formidable, professional diplomat, highly competent, highly respected by his peers,” said Antonio Patriota, a former Foreign Minister of Brazil.

“He played a specially significant role in coordinating the L-69, which is a coalition of developing countries, large and small, from Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Asia” that works for Council reform.

Brazil and Indiaconstitute along with Japan and Germany a group known as G-4, which works together for the expansion of the Council and mutually support each other for permanent seats on it.

“Brazil and India coordinated vigorously on this issue,” said Patriota, now his country’s UN Permanent Representative. Mukerji was a “very articulate spokesman for India, for its democratic and legitimate Security Council representation.”

The reform movement in the UN had been stifled for years mainly by China and a group of 13 countries known as Uniting for Consensus (UfC), which is led by Italy and includes Pakistan.

They created a Catch 22 situation by blocking the adoption of a negotiating text, saying it couldn’t be done unless there was a consensus while a consensus couldn’t be reached without a text on which to base the negotiations.

Sam Kutesa, the President of last General Assembly session, took the decisive step last year to create a negotiating text based on a survey of opinions of member nations on Council reform. Over 120 countries took part in the survey carried out by the Jamaican Permanent Representative, Courtenay Rattray, the former head of the reform process known as the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN).

On the final day of the last session of the General Assembly, Kutesa, who is also the foreign minister of Uganda, had the negotiating text adopted.

China and Pakistan and other members of the UfC, as well as Russia, were overcome by the breadth of the support for the negotiating text that they ended their opposition and it was adopted unanimously by the Assembly.

But there was a last minute attempt using some UN staffers to sabotage it. Under pressure from China and some other countries, they tried to change the wording of Kutesa’s agreed communication with the negotiating text drafted in July before sending it out.

Mukerji, who has the look of a gentle, grey-haired academic, went on the offensive and, backed by British, French and other diplomats, threatened a walkout from their meeting. The staffers backed down and the agreed text was sent out and eventually adopted.

Mukerji developed ties to key groups of nations, large and small, backed by initiatives in New Delhi like outreach to Pacific island nations, the India-Africa summit and development assistance to various nations.

Patriota noted that beyond his role in the L-69, Mukerji “also established a network of relationships with our colleagues, others the permanent representatives”. And he, along with the IGN, was able to call on this network to support the text-based negotiations.

Mukerji ascribed the success in this and other issues to India interacting in a more inclusive and open manner with other countries. “Inclusiveness gives India the strength,” he said. “That is why we get cooperation from other countries.”

Sylvie Lucas, the Luxembourg Permanent Representative who succeeded Rattray as the head of the IGN, is to convene this week the first meeting that will be based on the negotiating text.

India’s chances of getting a permanent seat on the Council hinge on the outcome of the negotiations.

In a twist to the often-quoted diplomatic dictum that nations have no permanent friends but only permanent interests, despite the unfriendly bout with Beijing on Council reforms, Mukerji turned first to China for getting the UN to declare the International Yoga Day.

Mukerji explained that getting China to endorse the proposal would be seen as a sign of the idea’s universality and get other countries to line up behind it. Even as some in India expressed misgivings about it, 177 nations cosponsored the Yoga Day resolution and Islamic nations supported its unanimous passage at the UN.

To get the Chinese interested, Mukerji told them about the joint yoga program that schools in New Delhi and Shanghai held during China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan’s visit to a south Delhi school.

During Mukerji’s UN tenure that started in April 2013, India won several elections to UN bodies, including a re-election to the UN Human Rights Council, and elections to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Executive Board of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“The yardstick of a nation’s strength is in elections,” he said. And this can be measured by the fact that India has won every election it contested during his tenure.

Another high point of Mukerji’s term was India’s role in helping develop UN’s ambitious development goals for the next 15 years known as Agenda 2030. The earlier such agenda were top-down affairs, but this time, the developing nations that are most directly involved were actively involved in setting the goals.

“Eradication of poverty is the objective of Agenda 2030, and India spearheaded this issue in the negotiations,” Mukerji said. “The major takeaways for India are the inclusion of Economic Goals such as infrastructure, employment, Smart Cities, etc for the first time as Development Goals, and also the identification of energy as a goal.”

On the last day of 2015, the Council conceded a key demand by India in the area of peacekeeping operations. Mukerji had campaigned persistently for the troop-contributing countries to be consulted on peacekeeping mandates and operations.

US Permanent Representative Samantha Power, who presided over the Council in December, admitted the consultation process had been flawed and said on behalf of the Council that there should be full participation by the troop-contributing countries and that these should extend to other important areas beyond mandates.(IANS)(image: shabellenews)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

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Delhi University
India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.