India’s diplomatic win on Afghanistan

India has a historical past of memorable “August presidencies” of the United Nations Safety Council. Throughout its 2011 presidency, occasions in Libya posed a diplomatic problem. Precisely 10 years later, a geopolitical earthquake in Afghanistan challenged the presidency.

India handed the take a look at with flying colors. Sustaining calm, India targeted on safeguarding and advancing its nationwide curiosity and the worldwide public items of counterterrorism, peace and safety. What set our 2021 presidency aside was the highest-level engagement and management of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He laid out India’s imaginative and prescient and vowed to provide “voice” to the unrepresented in a brand new multilateralism. He made historical past by changing into the primary PM of India to chair and tackle the UNSC, and that, too, to mobilise on an pressing matter of world concern — maritime safety.

The Indian presidency delivered the best variety of outcomes (14), with 5 full-fledged resolutions on the scenario in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Center East, Mali and the UN peacekeeping operations, 4 presidential statements (PRST) together with on West Africa and Sudan, and 5 press statements — three responding in actual time to developments in Afghanistan, together with the Kabul airport terrorist assault.

India organised occasions round three signature themes of maritime safety, peacekeeping and counterterrorism to construct a brand new worldwide consensus and to replace the foundations of the sport. The August 9 occasion was pathbreaking in evolving a holistic idea of maritime safety, the position of UNCLOS, the liberty of navigation — a delicate subject given China’s muscle-flexing within the South China Sea. The end result superior Indian safety pursuits whereas contributing in direction of a brand new worldwide maritime safety order.

The occasion on “Defending the protectors: expertise and peacekeeping” resulted within the first-ever decision on accountability for crimes towards peacekeepers and the primary PRST on expertise upgradation for peacekeepers. The Exterior Affairs Minister chaired an occasion on “Threats to worldwide peace and safety attributable to terrorist acts”, bringing focus on the continued terrorist threats and assaults, the early conclusion of the Complete Conference towards Worldwide Terrorism, and India’s eight-point motion plan — all to bolster the simply revised UN International Counter Terrorism Technique.

India’s consultative energy was deployed on points like Myanmar, Mali and Somalia, Center East, Ethiopia, Haiti and DPRK. However its diplomatic sagacity and agility had been examined most by the developments in Afghanistan.

Considerably, the UNSC Decision 2593 adopted on August 30 responded to critical considerations about Taliban-ruled Afghanistan changing into a haven for terrorist teams and getting a free run to mount assaults on neighbouring international locations and the world. It demanded that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or assault any nation or to shelter or practice terrorists, or to plan or finance terrorist acts.

It recognized people and entities designated by the UNSC decision 1267 — which, for India, contains the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) — and the significance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, noting related commitments of the Taliban.

Different main benchmarks included the Taliban permitting secure evacuation of foreigners and abiding by its August 27 assertion that Afghans will be capable of journey overseas at any time and exit through any border level. It urged all events to permit full, secure, and unhindered entry to the UN and all humanitarian actors for reduction exercise, donor help to Afghanistan and main Afghan refugee-hosting international locations and respect for worldwide humanitarian legislation, together with the safety of civilians.

The Taliban was requested to uphold human rights, together with these of girls, youngsters and minorities — which in India’s case bears on the well-being of Hindu and Sikh Afghans. All events had been requested to hunt an inclusive, negotiated political settlement, with equal participation of girls, and safeguard the beneficial properties of the previous 20 years on the rule of legislation and human rights.

India was thus in a position to make sure that the UNSC Decision 2593 laid down some basic benchmarks to information the worldwide group on calibrating its relations with the rising Taliban regime and setting requirements of behaviour and coverage for it, whether it is to win diplomatic recognition and financial and political help.

France and the UK have warned that the Taliban authorities might be judged on the implementation of the decision. For Russia, it was a second of candy revenge to see the US relive its personal humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan. China used the decision for grandstanding as the brand new, benign superpower, supporting Afghanistan towards “hegemonists”.

Each Russia and China sought to painting themselves as champions of the Taliban, refusing to help a decision that “turned the tables on Taliban” when the US’s “20 years failed occupation” and “its hasty withdrawal” had been the culprits. On counterterrorism, they needed a balanced strategy to incorporate their terrorists of concern, together with the East Turkestan Islamic Motion (ETIM).

Given these objections, that India was in a position to persuade them to not veto the decision and solely abstain, was a diplomatic win. All UNSC members praised India’s presidency and acknowledged the worth added by India in constructing bridges within the midst of polarised UNSC dynamics, strengthening its declare for everlasting membership.

The author is former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and deputy government director of UN Ladies

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