UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has changed a phrase in the draft declaration to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations after India along with countries including the UK and the US raised objection to the sentence, understood to be similar to wording used by the Chinese Communist Party.
Muhammad-Bande circulated the draft declaration to UN Member States under silence procedure, under which if no Member State raises any objections to the draft within a specified time period, the text is adopted.
According to United Nations Association-UK (UNA-UK), a charitable company focusing on UK action at the UN, Britain’s acting ambassador Jonathan Allen broke the silence procedure on June 24 “on behalf of the members of the “five eyes” intelligence community – the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India.
It said that the six countries objected to one phrase towards the end of the declaration that read – “to realise our shared vision for a common future”.
The countries wanted this wording to be replaced with “to realise our shared vision for a better future as envisaged in the preamble of the UN Charter.”
With the suggested wording, the paragraph in the draft declaration would have read, “What we agree today will affect the sustainability of our planet as well the welfare of generations for decades to come.
Through reinvigorated global action and by building on the progress achieved in the last 75 years, we are determined to ensure the future we want. To achieve this, we will mobilise resources, strengthen our efforts and show unprecedented political will and leadership. We will work together with partners to strengthen coordination and global governance for the common good of present and future generations and to realise our shared vision for a better future as envisaged in the preamble of the UN Charter.”
The UNA-UK said in a statement that it has heard from a number of sources that the reason the six countries objected to the phrase “to realise our shared vision for a common future” is because ”shared vision for a common future” has some “similarity to wording used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to describe its foreign policy aspirations.”
It said the phrase was used in a report by former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao to the 18th CCP congress in 2012. “Thus, the language needs to be viewed in the context of the current great power rivalry between the USA and China, with the UK firmly allying with the US,” it said.
Following the objection, Muhammad-Bande wrote to UN Member States on June 25 proposing a re-worked phrase to substitute the sentence on which silence was broken.
“We will work together with partners to strengthen coordination and global governance for the common future of present and coming generations,” the new phrase proposed by the UNGA President read.
On the evening of June 26, Muhammad-Bande said that there was no objection to the proposed new phrase.
However, he said he was “notified of an issue regarding a particular element of the final draft declaration, which would require further clarification in order to conclude the process.”
The declaration by the “Heads of State and Government representing the peoples of the world” to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN is to be adopted on September 21, 2020 and takes note of the COVID19 pandemic that “continues to reverberate around our world.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us in the most powerful way that we are closely interconnected and only as strong as our weakest link. Only by working together and in solidarity can we end the pandemic and effectively tackle its consequences.
“Only together can we build resilience against future pandemics and other global challenges. Multilateralism is not an option but a necessity as we build back better for a more equal, more resilient, and more sustainable world. The United Nations must be at the centre of our efforts,” the declaration says.
The declaration also underscores that armed conflicts and threats against international peace and security must be urgently resolved through peaceful means.
“The United Nations must better address all forms and domains of threats. Terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism are serious threats to international peace and security,” it says.
The declaration also emphasises on the need to “upgrade” the UN, saying that “we commit to instil new life in the discussions on the reform of the Security Council and continue the work to revitalise the General Assembly and strengthen the Economic and Social Council. The review of the peacebuilding architecture has our full support.”
It is noteworthy that reform of the multilateral system and fight against terrorism are among the key priorities for India as it prepares to sit in the Security Council for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021 as a non-permanent member after overwhelmingly winning the UNSC election this month.
Termed as NORMS, India’s focus will be on “New Orientation For A Reformed Multilateral System.” India’s priorities include new opportunities for progress, effective response to international terrorism, reforming multilateral systems, comprehensive approach to peace and security and technology with a human touch.