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A new feather in Modi's diplomatic hat: Opening a new vista, UNSC adopts Maritime statement

WebdeskAug 10, 2021, 08:04 AM IST

A new feather in Modi's diplomatic hat: Opening a new vista, UNSC adopts Maritime statement

The UNSC, opening a new vista, adopted the first-ever presidential statement on maritime security soon after the Prime Minister chaired a virtual Open Debate focused on global cooperation for maritime security. 

 

New Delhi: It was a new role for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The first Prime Minister of India to do so made it especially significant.

 

Earlier, P V Narasimha Rao as PM, attended a UNSC meeting on January 31, 1992. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had participated in the UNSC meeting as a foreign minister on September 29, 1978, advocating for Namibian independence.

 

But Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to preside over.

 

Presiding over the Open Debate on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Maritime Security, Mr Modi said in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that - "We should remove barriers to maritime trade. Our prosperity depends on the active flow of maritime trade and also the free maritime trade is associated with the culture of India for time immemorial."

 

The UNSC, opening a new vista, adopted the first-ever presidential statement on maritime security soon after the Prime Minister chaired a virtual Open Debate focused on global cooperation for maritime security.

 

This, too, was a path-breaking milestone.

 

Past attempts by Vietnam (April 2021) and Equatorial Guinea (Feb 2019) for a full discussion failed.

 

India took a responsible yet consensus-building approach by initiating consultations amongst UNSC members several months in advance. A concept note was prepared that incorporated ideas of all.

 

Certainly adding a new feather in PM Modi's cap and showing the prowess of India's growing diplomatic wings, this episode marks the first-ever outcome document by the UNSC on the issue of maritime security.

 

As per practices, the “Presidential Statement” has to be adopted unanimously. The process was not smooth, with one Permanent-5 country holding out until the end (on language related to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea - UNCLOS). Thus, it can be said that "credit" ought to be given to India’s negotiators to find a language acceptable to all.

 

This certainly reaffirms India’s bridging role in the UNSC.

 

A total of 4 Heads of government (2 Presidents and 2 PMs, including India) and 10 Ministers, including (7 Foreign Ministers) participated in the Indian initiative in UNSC.

 

Among other things, the UNSC resolution says, the Security Council "commends" the efforts by regional and sub-regional organisations and individual countries to enhance maritime security, including through sharing information in the maritime domain.

 

Russian President had participated in UNSC Debates only twice before, in September 2005 and September 2000. His participation at the UNSC Debate after nearly 16 years at Indian PM chaired-event sends out a clear political message on the importance Russia places on the initiatives on Maritime Security in the UNSC and on the bilateral relationship.

 

The US Permanent Representative holds Cabinet rank. Yet the participation by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is the senior-most Secretary in the US Cabinet, is also an important message.

 

In his speech, Modi maintained that barriers in maritime trades could pose a challenge to the entire global economy.

 

However, at the same time, he was also realistic.

 

"This shared heritage of ours (oceans) is facing several types of challenges. Maritime routes are being misused for piracy and terrorism," he said.

 

The Prime Minister pitched strongly for five basic principles based on trade, disputes, natural disasters, environment and connectivity.

 

"Oceans are our shared heritage and our maritime routes are the lifelines of international trade. These oceans are very important for the future of our planet," he said.

 

The crucial UNSC statement seeks to promote safe and secure shipping while ensuring freedom of navigation under applicable international laws, focusing on drugs and human trafficking through the maritime route, and ensuring enhanced cooperation to protect critical infrastructure, including cross-border infrastructures.

 

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