Making a strong anti-terror pitch at the NAM Summit here, India on Sunday asserted that “concrete action” was needed in the fight against terrorism and asked the 120-nation group to set up a mechanism to ensure effective cooperation in combating the menace.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who is leading the Indian delegation at the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said terrorism is one of the “most egregious sources of human right violations today” and its use as an instrument of state policy is to be unequivocally condemned.
The time has come “for our movement to recognise the need for concrete action in the fight against terrorism”, Ansari said while addressing the plenary meeting of the bloc.
“We need to establish a mechanism within our movement that will ensure effective cooperation in combating terrorism, that is the main threat to security, sovereignty and development,” he said.
Ansari’s remarks came against the backdrop of India raising its concerns at various international fora over Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism. Prime Minister Modi had made clear references to Pakistan’s support to terrorism without naming it at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, at a BRICS meeting in Hangzhou and at the ASEAN and East Asia summits in Lao PDR.
Describing terrorism as the “biggest threat” to international peace and to the sovereignty of states, Ansari asserted that no cause justifies the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians as a means to achieve a political goal or change of policies.
He stated that terrorism has become a major impediment to development.
“It is therefore imperative for the Non-Aligned Movement to galvanise the international community to strengthen the international legal framework to address this menace, including by adopting the draft Comprehensive UN Convention on Terrorism, to ensure the closest cooperation amongst the international community to counter the scourge of terror,” he said.
“We must also ensure that all existing structures that are the building blocks of UN’s Global Counter Terrorism Strategy function in a non-partisan and professional manner,” Ansari said.
Earlier, during NAM’s Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar had also called on NAM to set up a “working group on terrorism” to safeguard world peace, stability and prosperity.
“Governments which think they can pay lip service to sanity at a NAM summit, and continue to arm, shelter and exploit terrorists in a war by other means, when they return home will learn that you cannot sip on poison and hope to live,” Akbar had said in an apparent reference to Pakistan. Ansari, in his address, also strongly flagged the issue of UN reforms.
“Today we need to ask whether an organisation designed in 1945 with just 51 member states, is really appropriate to serve the needs of an international community that now comprises 193 independent sovereign states facing 21st century challenges to their citizens’ well-being and security,” he said.
World leaders at their Summit at the UN in 2005 had called for urgent reform of the Security Council as part of the effort to make the United Nations fit for the 21st century. The Inter-governmental Negotiations process currently underway in the UN General Assembly seeks to fulfil that mandate.
“We must use the forthcoming 71st UNGA to ensure that our discussions in the IGN move forward,” Ansari said.
Noting that the global landscape has changed since 1961, when NAM was formed, Ansari stressed that the values and principles on which the foundations of the movement, namely “respect for sovereignty”, “peaceful settlement of disputes” and “international cooperation” — are as relevant today as they were at the time of the first summit.
“Our theme for the next three years — Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity for Development — is in congruence with our founding principles,” he said.
Sustainable Development Goals in the Agenda 2030 which, if implemented successfully, will transform the lives of all citizens, the Vice-President said.
He said it would be a reaffirmation of the commitment as a movement to ensure the dignity and development of all humankind.
Noting that NAM has stood steadfastly in the forefront by highlighting global economic issues that affect the developing world, he said the member states must ensure wholehearted and holistic implementation of the SDGs and remain attentive to any effort to modify or distort Agenda 2030 by laying overemphasis on particular SDGs over others, or by trying to create a standard of measurement that could be intrusive and has no relationship to national contexts.
Describing sustainable development as the bedrock and the highest aspiration of NAM countries’ efforts, Ansari emphasised on the importance of solidarity that the movement attaches to achieving it.
Asserting that peace and sovereignty are a prerequisite for development, the Vice-President said a peaceful global environment is essential for development and for development cooperation.
“Such cooperation must be undertaken in exercise of the sovereign will of each member of the community of nations. The interdependence of the three is thus evident and essential. The impediments to each must also be discerned clearly,” he said.
Concluding his address, Ansari said as the largest peace movement of the world, NAM must be in the vanguard of the principal international debates on political, strategic and even economic and social issues.
He hoped that one of the priorities of NAM will be to modernise the manner in which it functions.
“We began a discussion on this at the Cartagena Summit in 1995; this discussion must continue and fructify so that NAM may achieve its full potential,” Ansari said.
Earlier on Saturday, crisis-hit Venezuela assumed NAM’s presidency as leaders of the 120-nation group, including Ansari, began deliberations on contemporary issues like UN reform and terrorism with the bloc seeking relevance in the post-Cold War world.
Venezuela, an OPEC member and home to one of the world’s largest oil reserves, assumed the movement’s rotating presidency from Iran which had hosted the bloc’s summit in 2012.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, while opening the 17th meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said the member countries have the opportunity to discuss the concerns and the developments at the bilateral and international level.
During the past four years under Iran’s presidency NAM was involved in many activities at the UN. There have been meetings on disarmament, maintaining peace and human rights and several rounds of negotiations were held with the north countries, Rouhani noted.
“This summit is convening at a time when peace is being threatened in all its aspects across the world and the national sovereignty of developing states is being constantly violated in various forms and methods. Members of our movement, more than any other time, are in need of solidarity, unity and coordination,” he asserted.
“What unfolds in the contemporary international order, is worrying if we adopt a realistic perspective. In today’s global relations, hegemonic and domineering inclinations are incontrovertible reality. Alignment towards military polarisations and blocks is another dominant feature in the mentality and behaviours of some of the players,” he said.
Arms race, warmongering, intensification of conflicts and violence and interfering in the domestic affairs of developing nations by the holders of power and wealth, overtly or covertly, are only examples of such behaviour which cannot be interpreted unless with the logic of hegemony-seeking and predominance, the Iranian President said.
Talking about the situation in Iraq and Syria, Rouhani said Iran was the first country which warned against the global danger of “Takfiri terrorism” in Syria.
“While a number of irresponsible groups in the Middle East and the West were busy equipping and training Takfiri terrorists, Iran stood against Iraq and Syria to confront alone with one of the most brutal terrorist organisations of history,” he said.
NAM countries should not pin their hopes on big powers to achieve development and growth, he asserted.
The “zionest regime” is trying to exploit the situation in the Middle East, the Iranian President said, adding that Iran supports the cause of the Palestinians.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accepted the presidency and vowed to strengthen the bloc. He said Iran’s presidency of the movement had given a “new dynamism” to the movement.
The summit in Venezuela comes amid anti-government protests in the South American country. A number of people were arrested there earlier this month after President Maduro was greeted by pot-banging demonstrators during a visit to the Margarita island.