India, Africa must stick together: Top UN envoy (Interview, With Image)

March 1st, 2011 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

By Manish Chand
New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Ahead of a crucial round of negotiations on reform of the UN Security Council next month, Cheick Sidi Diarra, the top UN envoy for Africa, says India and the 53-nation continent should “stick together” through twists and turns to realise their long-standing quest for permanent seats on the global high table.”It’s important that India and Africa stick together. India and Africa, whatever shape the discussions take, should stick together,” Diarra, UN under secretary-general and the UN’s special adviser on Africa, told IANS in an interview here.

“The process of UN reforms and the expansion of the Security Council has acquired a new resonance,” said Diarra, also UN high representative for the least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries and small island developing states.

The 54-year-old diplomat was alluding to the seventh round of inter-governmental negotiations on UN Security Council reforms that kick off in New York in March, based on a five-page document put together after months of deliberations that represents the positions and suggestions of all 192-member countries of the UN General Assembly.

“Some of the permanent members are reluctant to accept new members or changes. It will help if the G4 can get Africa fully on its side to make headway with the expansion of the council,” he said while referring to the joint bid by G4 countries, including India, Brazil, Germany and Japan for permanent seats in the UN Security Council.

In 2005, the G4 had reached out to the African Union (AU) with a view to coming out with a common position on reform of the UN Security Council, but differences over the size of the council and veto powers blocked the attempt at consensus.

Moreover, the AU has been unable to decide which two African countries will get permanent seats from Africa in the council.

Describing India and Africa as “victims of historical injustice”, Diarra strongly rooted for the inclusion of the two, which together account for over two billion people in an expanded UN Security Council.

“India and Africa have a common stand on reform of the UN Security Council,” he said.

“India is asking for a permanent seat in the council due to its current international stature, economic and diplomatic weight, size of population and contribution to peace-keeping,” he added. India’s credentials can’t be questioned any more, he stressed.

“Africa too wants to be represented in the UN Security Council. Both India and Africa’s aspirations are based on historic injustice done to them. Their aspiration is to have the Security Council become more democratic and representative,” he said.

Outlining an emerging synergy in diverse fields between India and Africa, Diarra, a passionate backer of Africa and LDCs at global fora, underlined that the two sides are coming closer in the fast-evolving global order of the 21st century.

“They have also common security concerns to fight extremism. They are expanding cooperation in combating extremism, drug trafficking, transnational crime and corruption,” he said.

Ahead of the second India-Africa forum summit in Ethiopia in May, Diarra, who played a key role in strengthening of the UN Economic and Social Council, struck an upbeat note about the mutually empowering India-Africa partnership.

“Africa is in a mood of renaissance and renewal. Indian technical sector and expertise could be of enormous use in spurring this renaissance,” he said.

“In areas like ICT industries, science and research, agriculture and infrastructure, India can bring in its knowhow for capacity building and provide generous incentives for Indian global multinationals to step up investment in Africa,” said Diarra, secretary-general of the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs to be held in Turkey.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in)

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