A decade of relentless efforts by India to get Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council finally came to fruition in 2019, signifying India’s leadership in global counter-terrorism efforts, as New Delhi also led from the front on climate action and sustainable development.
The year 2019 will be remembered as a watershed moment in India’s fight against terrorism and its commitment to bring those responsible for terror attacks against the country to justice.
The February 14 attack against CRPF personnel in Pulwama by JeM drew widespread outrage and condemnation by the international community.
For the first time, the powerful 15-nation Security Council issued a press statement, condemning in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing in Pulwama, which killed 40 CRPF personnel.
Just over two months later, India won a major victory when the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Security Council blacklisted Azhar on May 1 after veto-wielding permanent member China lifted its technical hold on the proposal by the US, the UK and France to sanction him.
“If we have to look back, it’s a year of many successes. It’s a year in which some of those pursuits that we had followed up for years led to fruition. We were able to have Masood Azhar listed as a terrorist after almost a decade of trying,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin told PTI.
“Also it’s the year when for the first time, the Security Council issued a media statement on terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir following the attack on paramilitary forces in Pulwama. That was a first. It’s also a year in which we were able to thwart some of the efforts in terms of trying to de-list Hafiz Saeed,” he said.
Apart from counter-terrorism, India also demonstrated its leadership across various issues at the forefront of the world organisation’s agenda.
In a first of its kind of symbolic Indian effort at the UN, a 50-kilowatt ‘Gandhi Solar Park’ was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit for the UN General Assembly session in September, a gesture that highlighted India’s willingness to go beyond the talk on climate change.
At a contribution of about USD one million, India gifted 193 solar panels that have been installed on the roof of the UN Headquarters here, one panel each for every 193 UN Member State, further signifying its strong commitment to climate action and its focus towards renewable energy.
In yet another highly significant diplomatic win for India and testament to its global stature, India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the powerful Security Council for the 2021-22 term was unanimously endorsed by the Asia-Pacific group at the UN.
Elections for five non-permanent members for the two-year term 2021-22 will be held around June. India is expected to register a smooth victory in the elections that will bring New Delhi back on the horse-shoe high table of the Security Council for the eighth term, the last being in 2011-12.
“We’re looking forward to engaging the UN membership to ensure a victory in the election and which we are confident will happen,” Akbaruddin said.
"The India of 2021 is different from the India which came out of the Council last time. Our engagement with the globe has advanced considerably, our interests are now more diverse and our ability to act as bridge-builders is much more strong compared to previous years.
“It’s simply because as our economy has grown, people are engaged with India in many ways that were not done previously. So all of these will be a factor as we take stock of how to look at our membership in 2021-22,” he said.
India, which has also been leading efforts among the developing nations for reform of the UNSC, brings to the Council some “unique equities” and can act as a bridge builder in a global platform which is otherwise riven with divisions, he said.
India has had a successful track record of winning elections in the UN. This past year, India’s Jagjit Pavadia was re-elected to the International Narcotics Control Board for another term, garnering the highest number of votes at 44.
As the world body prepares to celebrate 75 years of its existence next year, countries such as India feel that it is an opportune time for decisive action on the long-pending UNSC reforms.
“Anniversaries are opportunities for a catalytic effect on bringing about change. So we hope we will lay the foundations for what would be a more decisive phase in the 75th session” of the General Assembly for UNSC reforms, he said.
The world body also took note of India’s contribution towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly through its ambitious programs such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and the Aadhar biometric identity card that paves the way for financial inclusion for its over a billion-strong population.
While the world grapples with conventional issues, new and emerging challenges call for greater cooperation and comprehensive approach among the international community.
Akbaruddin noted that challenges of cyberspace and digital technologies and their impact and influence on security, development, social change and communications require sustained multilateral efforts.
“We have cause for being satisfied with the outcomes of 2019 and we look with great hope for doing much better, in keeping with our tradition in 2020 too,” he said.