Backing south-south cooperation: EAM Jaishankar's commitment in action
New York, September 24: In a thought-provoking address at a Ministerial Session titled ‘South Rising: Partnerships, Institutions and Ideas,’ India's External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, made a significant observation about the persistence of "double standards" in today's world.
Speaking at the event hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, United Nations India, and the Reliance Foundation, Jaishankar highlighted the reluctance of influential nations to embrace change and the concerning weaponization of historical influence.
Jaishankar pointed out that despite a growing global sentiment for change, those holding positions of influence, particularly in forums like the UN Security Council, are resisting transformation. He stressed that countries with economic dominance are exploiting their production capabilities, while those with institutional or historical influence are weaponizing their power. Despite their rhetoric, Jaishankar emphasized that the world is still plagued by double standards.
COVID-19, he noted, serves as a prime example of this dichotomy. However, Jaishankar expressed optimism that the global South would increasingly exert pressure on the international system to address these disparities. He recognized that it's not solely the global North that resists change; there are parts of the world that may not consider themselves part of the North but remain resistant to reform.
Jaishankar delved into the concept of cultural rebalancing, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and respecting the world's diversity, including its various cultures, traditions, music, literature, and ways of life. He cited an example from the recent G20 Summit in Delhi, where the global South's preference for millets over wheat was acknowledged.
Amidst laughter from the audience, Jaishankar remarked that many actions are taken in the name of the market, much like some are done in the name of freedom. He emphasized that respecting the heritage and traditions of others is a crucial aspect of the change that the global South aspires to see in the world.
The event also featured addresses from India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Reliance Foundation CEO Jagannatha Kumar, UN Resident Coordinator in India Shombi Sharp, and ORF President Samir Saran. The panel discussion included the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, Joao Gomes Cravinho, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, Kamina Johnson Smith.
Jaishankar mentioned that, with a few months remaining in India's G20 Presidency before Brazil assumes the presidency in December 2023, efforts are underway to initiate reforms in international financial institutions. He responded to queries about being tough on Europe, stating that such a characterization was not accurate.
Highlighting critical global issues, Jaishankar listed debt, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) resourcing, climate action resourcing, digital access, nutrition, and gender as major concerns. He noted that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the focus on issues like the Ukraine crisis, these crucial subjects had been sidelined in global discussions. To address this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated for dialogue with countries not at the table, which led to the Voice of Global South Summit in 2023. Jaishankar emphasized that the summit gave India the empirical basis to highlight the concerns of 125 countries and the need for collective focus on these pressing issues.
- With inputs from agencies