New Delhi: Making a forceful push for United Nations Security Council reforms, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday that global governance structures that exclude Africa and India and their 2.5 billion people cannot have legitimacy and will continue to elude collective peace and security.
On the second day of the third India Africa Forum summit, 55 representatives from Africa – 54 countries, African Union and India, sat around a rectangular table in the stadium floor, which earlier witnessed fierce wrestling matches but today echoed to polite speeches.
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Inaugurating the ministerial session, Swaraj said that even as United Nations celebrated 70 years of its establishment, “Indians and Africans comprise nearly 2.5 billion people, our nations continue to be excluded from appropriate representation in the institutions of global governance”.
She asserted that India and Africa can no longer be excluded from their rightful place of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council. “How can we expect legitimacy from a governance structure that excludes the entire African continent and a country, which represents one-sixth of humanity?” asked Swaraj.
She felt that unless more democractic global governance structures were put in place, “more equitabl and just international security and development frameworks that are essential for the collective peace and prosperity of this planet, will continue to elude us”.
“There can no longer be pockets of prosperity in vast areas of underdevelopment and insecurity,” she asserted.
She felt that the 70th session of UNGA would be an “opportune moment to achieve concrete results on this long pending issue”.
Swaraj specifically thanked Sam Kutesa, Uganda foreign minister, for his “leadership” as president of UNGA president in commencing text-based negotiations.
“We look forward to working together in an active negotiating process to take this forward,” she said.
She also callled for a joint effort in countering “growing scourge of terroris”.
“The menace of non-state actors and cross border terrorism has acquired a new dimension. The scale of this challenge is huge and undermines the peace and stability in our countries, which is essential for our development efforts,” he said.
With “fast growing lainkages of such terrorist groups”, Swaraj called for steppign up “our cooperation through intelligence exchange, training and other measures to counter this menace”.
“We also hope that the international community will cooperate with urgency to adopt the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism,” she said.
Climate Change also featured prominently in Swaraj’s speech, with Swaraj stating that India and Africa “have shared common concerns and interests” on the need for assistance to developing countries for adaption and mitigation.
“The challenge of global warming can only be addressed adequately through technological solutions and financial resources to manage the transition,” said Swaraj in the context of the meeting of UN Climate Change conference in Paris next month.
Swaraj also pitched for working together on healthcare, with primary health and battling diseases being a common concern.
“Ensuring access to affordable and quality medicines and treatment is an important area of our cooperation. We recognise the value of training of doctors and healthcare personnel, including through tele-medicine utilising modern technology, the use of affordable generic medicines, promoting the use of traditional medicines and their regulatory procedures,” she asserted.
Africa is one of the biggest markets for Indian generic medicines, with Indian pharmaceutical firms being at the forefront in this sector.
For the third India-Africa forum summit, Swaraj reiterated that India has learnt from its experience. “We have gained some experience of engagement in this format. We now know what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, we have heard what you have been telling us, of how we can pool our strengths and use our talents and experience to respond more effectively to your needs,” she said.
Swaraj said that India was committed to a “people-centric approach which focuses on capacity building, human resource development and technical and financial support for our mutually agreed priorities”.
India has in last 7 years given 40,000 scholarships to African national, with more than half announced in second summit in 2011.
“We are very happy to host African students in India. They enrich our cultural fabric and contribute to mutual learning and understanding,” she said.
India has given lines of credit of almost $9 billion to Africa for 140 projects in the last one decade – out of which 60 projects completed so far.