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Security Council briefing on ‘Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations:  League of Arab States’

Posted on: January 18, 2021 | Back | Print

Security Council briefing on 

‘Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations:  League of Arab States’
[18 January 2021]

Remarks by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti,

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

Thank you, Mr. President.

I would like to welcome your august presence in the Council. I also welcome Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of UAE H.E Dr Anwar Gargash. I  welcome  Secretary General of the League of Arab States, HE Ahmed Aboul Gheit and thank him for his insights on this important matter. I thank Under Secretary General Rosemary Dicarlo for her briefing.

The Arab world has been the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of three major religions.  Given its strategic location, developments in the Arab world have shaped our common history and continue to have a profound impact globally. The challenges that the region is confronting today, and how we address them collectively, will have a bearing on our collective future.

India and the Arab world share a civilizational relationship and our interaction with the region encompasses every aspect of human endeavour - from agriculture to hi-tech, from clean energy to counterterrorism, and from education to trade and commerce.

For India, peace and stability in West Asia and North Africa is of vital interest. Arab countries are host to around nine million Indians, the largest expat community in the Arab world. Their contributions to the economies of host countries and nation-building efforts are greatly appreciated by both the people and the governments of these countries. Indians from the Arab world remit around $48 billion to India annually.

I would like to take this opportunity to express Government of India’s gratitude for the assistance extended by Arab countries for Vande Bharat Mission, the largest repatriation exercise undertaken by India and probably anywhere in the world during Covid-19 imposed travel restrictions.

Our excellent bilateral relations with the Arab world are also reflected in our institutional engagement under the framework of the Arab-India Cooperation Forum. The third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of this Forum took place virtually earlier this month, and we look forward to hosting the next meeting in India.

Today’s deliberations provide an opportunity to have a closer look at the challenges facing the region and the ongoing cooperation between the UN and the League of Arab States, under the framework of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. The League of Arab States has an important role to play in the areas of mediation, conflict prevention and resolution in the region.  

The ongoing conflicts in the region go back a decade and have now become protracted in nature, be it Syria, Libya or Yemen.  The prolonged instability is affecting not only these countries, but also the larger region.  In this context, I would like to make the following observations:

(i) First, at the heart of the conflict are human beings, and unfortunately these conflicts have brought untold misery to millions of people due to unabated violence and displacement, affecting mainly women, children and the elderly.  They are facing shortages of food, medical care and basic facilities, including education. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this suffering.  We, therefore, call on those who are involved in the conflict, both from the region and from outside, to focus first on centrality of the human being and do all they can to alleviate their suffering since they are helpless when warring factions settle their  scores and destroy someone else’s lives.

(ii) Second, the purpose of regional and international involvement should be to help countries and  their concerned parties in the peaceful resolution of all issues.  We need to seriously introspect whether each of our actions is ensuring this reconciliation or whether they are doing a disservice by pulling parties apart.  This is for India an important touchstone, since we have always believed in an intra-country-led process and not externally imposed solutions.

(iii) Third, attempts to delegitimize governments and to impose external solutions have moved parties away from negotiations and made them skeptical of the political process. Such an approach emboldens regional players to support respective sides, both politically and militarily. The proxies, propped by their mentors, also aspire for a political role without much support on the ground. This further complicates the pursuit of any meaningful solution. 

(iv) Four, the presence of foreign terrorist fighters in countries facing conflicts is posing serious challenges to ongoing international efforts. These fighters have become enablers of attacks carried out by terror groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. They are also radicalizing the youth. For example, it is well-known that the foreign terrorist fighters in Libya are radicalizing the entire region. This development is undermining our collective efforts to counter terrorism. 

(v) Needless to add, any comprehensive and peaceful resolution to such conflicts must be inclusive, driven by the aspirations of the people and arrived at through broader consultations and dialogue. The role of the international community should be to create an environment for such a process to unfold. The efforts undertaken without due regard for impartiality, fairness and equity will not achieve the goal of a lasting and durable peaceful solution.

Mr. President,

It is in this context, that the relevance of co-operation between UN and the League of Arab States assumes greater significance. The League of Arab States, as a regional organization predating the UN, has contributed positively to international security and stability in the region. Members of the Arab League are among the top troop and police contributing countries. Arab states are also among the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to countries facing armed conflict. 

The UN and the League of Arab States have identified areas of cooperation and intensified their dialogue through capacity building and peacemaking initiatives, sectoral meetings, and biennial cooperation meetings. The opening of the Liaison Office in Cairo and the practice of annual briefings by the Secretary-General of the Arab League to the Security Council are steps in the right direction. But more can be done to realize the true potential of such collaboration. In this regard, I would like to mention that: 

(i) There must be greater policy synergy between the two organizations. Any UN peace initiative in West Asia and North Africa should take into confidence the Arab League and other relevant stakeholders to findcommon solutions.

(ii) The engagement between the two organizations should also focus more on peacebuilding and development, especially in post-conflict scenarios. The League of Arab States has contributed, both as an organization and through its individual members, towards reconstruction and economic development of not just its members, but also of other UN member states

(iii) Both Organizations should strive to achieve comprehensive coordination at the field level, especially through regular coordination between UN Special Envoys and Special Representatives and the League of Arab States. 

(iv) Let me also add that activities should be carried out with utmost respect for the principles of national sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of all member states, in line with the provisions of the UN Charter. 

Mr. President, 

The cooperation between UN and League of Arab States will be incomplete without mentioning its importance in the Middle East Peace Process. Both organizations should make renewed efforts to facilitate the Peace Process. Recent months have witnessed positive developments, including the signing of the Abraham Accords. India has always supported the Palestinian issue and peace and stability in West Asia which is our extended neighborhood. As such, we welcome these agreements regarding normalization of relations between Israel and other countries, which, we believe will contribute to peace and stability in West Asia.

We also continue to maintain our traditional support for the Palestinian cause. A two-state solution and lasting peace can be achieved only through direct negotiations between the two parties on all final status issues, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for Statehood and Israel’s security concerns. We urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations and to eschew violence that may make negotiations more difficult to resume. 

In conclusion, Mr. President, let me reiterate India’s support for closer and meaningful cooperation between the UN and the League of Arab States that will benefit the region immensely. India will continue to partner with the Arab countries in their efforts to achieve peace, stability and prosperity and will work together with the League of Arab States in their pursuit of regional peace and security, in combating terrorism and other challenges and in promoting tolerance and pluralistic traditions.

I thank you Mr. President.


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