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The 70th Session of the United Nations General...
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The 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

APPROACH PAPER

Setting and Context

The 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly begins on 15 September 2015. It will be presided over by Mr. Mogens Lykketoff, former Speaker of the Danish Parliament. The forthcoming UNGA session is also significant as it coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations.

2. The Summit to adopt the Post 2015 Development Agenda will be held from 25 - 27 September 2015. Prime Minister will lead our delegation and will address the Summit at the opening plenary on Friday, 25 September 2015. 157 member states will participate in the Summit at Head of State / Government level. The Post 2015 Development Agenda will provide a blueprint for development cooperation for the next decade and a half.

3. The General Debate will take place from 28 September - 3 October 2015. The President-elect has decided that the theme of the session will be: 'The UN at 70: the Road Ahead for Peace, Security and Human Rights'. The theme is all encompassing as it refers to the three pillars of the United Nations and would allow a debate both on the report card of the last 70 years and the road ahead. EAM will deliver our country statement on the morning session on 1 October 2015.

Overview of the 69th Session of the UNGA

4. Prime Minister had, in his address to the General Debate of the 69th session of the General Assembly, proposed that 21 June be adopted as the International Day of Yoga. The Permanent Mission conducted a series of informal consultations on the proposal before tabling a draft resolution. The resolution (A/Res/69/131) was adopted on 11 December 2014 without a vote. It had a record number of 177 sponsors and was adopted within 75 days of it being proposed. Both the President of the General Assembly and the UN Secretary General issued congratulatory messages on the occasion.

5. The International Day of Yoga was celebrated at UN Headquarters on 21 June 2015. It saw participation by the President of the General Assembly and the UN Secretary General and was presided over by External Affairs Minister. It also featured a lecture cum demonstration by Sri Sri Ravishankar. The function was broadcast live on giant screens to an audience of a few thousands at the Times Square in New York. It was also telecast globally by UN TV.

6. The 69th GA witnessed significant forward movement on the Inter Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on UN Security Council reform. Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly, had, while assuming Office, announced that Security Council reform would be one of his foremost priorities. He replaced the PR of Afghanistan, who had been the Chair of the IGN for six years, by Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, PR of Jamaica. The new Chair conducted a deliberate and step by step process of consulting the entire membership and obtaining their inputs. This has led to the development of a comprehensive negotiating text incorporating the views of more than 120 member states. The President of the General Assembly has taken ownership of this text.

7. India participated actively in the Third International Conference for Financing for Development held in Addis Ababa from 13-16 July 2015.  The Indian delegation was led by Shri Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda adopted by the Conference reaffirms the commitment of developing countries to provide 0.7% of GNI as ODA. Of particular significance was the agreement to establish a Technology Facilitation Mechanism under the auspices of the UN.

8. The Second UN Conference of Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) was held in Vienna from 3-5 November 2014. The Indian delegation was led by Gen. (Retd.) V.K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs. The Conference adopted the Vienna programme of Action which prioritizes international cooperation to address the specific challenges faced by land locked developing countries.

9. The UN Secretary General hosted a Climate Summit at the UN Headquarters in New York on 23 September 2014 to build momentum towards an ambitious outcome of the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Paris in December 2015. The Indian delegation was led by Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

10. India participated actively in the ongoing debate on the changing nature of the peacekeeping in keeping with its role as a leading troop contributing country. We emphasized the importance of adhering to the cardinal principles of peacekeeping, i.e. consent of the parties, neutrality and non use of force other than in self-defence and in exceptional circumstance. An Indian proposal for the UN to construct a wall in memory of UN peacekeepers who have died on duty was approved by the UN General Assembly in June 2015.

11. We have also taken the lead in calling for enhanced consultations between the UN Security Council and troop contributing countries, as provided for in Article 44 of the UN Charter. This point of view has been projected both in the Special Committee on Peace Keeping Operations (C-34) and in open debates of the UN Security Council.

12. The Fourth India-UN high level dialogue on peacekeeping took place from 19-20 February 2015. Shri Vikas Swarup, then JS(UNP) led our delegation. The meeting allowed for a useful discussions on all matters, including the possibility of India contributing enablers to peacekeeping missions.

13. India also participated in the Chiefs of Defence Conference at UN Headquarters in New York on 27 Mach 2015. General Dalbir Singh, Chief of Army Staff presented our perceptions on the challenges of multi dimensional peacekeeping.

14. India has continued to contribute to appeals by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Two contributions were made during the 69th session; a contribution of US$ 2 million for the Syrian humanitarian fund in 2014 and another of US$ 1 million to the same fund in 2015.

15. India was re-elected to Human Rights Council for the term 2015-17, securing the highest number of votes (162) in the Asia Pacific Groups in elections held in October 2014. In 2015, we were also re-elected to ECOSOC, the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, International Narcotics Control Board, Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, UNDP, Committee on NGOs, Committee on Science & Technology for Development and Committee on Economic Social and cultural Rights at the elections held in New York.

16. In order to maintain and further enhance our representations in the UN, we have declared candidatures for the UN Security Council non-permanent seat for the term 2021-22, Human Rights Council 2019-2021, ECOSOC 2018-2020, UNDP Executive Board 2019-2021, NGO Committee 2019-2022, SG, World Meteorological Organization 2016-20, UN-HABITAT 2016-19, World Food Programme - Executive Board 2016-18, Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice 2016-18 and ACABQ 2017-19.

Approach on major issues in 70th session

(a) UNSC Reform

17. Our approach would be to have negotiations initiated on the text circulated by the President of the General Assembly. The objective is to take matters forward during the 70th session. Active outreach will also be conducted.

(b) Economic Development & Sustainable Development Issues

(i) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

18. It is expected that a series of events would be organized during the 70th session of the General Assembly to catalyze and promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both by the UN system and member states. It will be our endeavour to keep this process holistic in order to prevent any selective re-interpretation of the mandate. The overarching focus needs to be on poverty eradication, completion of MDGs, economic growth, industrialization, employment generation and infrastructure creation in developing countries.

(ii) World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) + 10 Review

19. The 70th session will conduct a review of the Tunis Agenda leading to the adoption of an outcome document at a high level meeting of the General Assembly in December 2015. Our approach will be to keep the overall focus on the vision of the Tunis Agenda, i.e. bridging the digital divide for the benefit of developing countries.

(c) International Peace and Security

20. India supports UN efforts to assist the national authorities in the Middle East region, including Syria, Yemen and Libya, to promote internal dialogue and reforms with a view to resolving the crises and ensuring stability and prosperity. India pledged and contributed US$ 2 million for UN humanitarian assistance in Syria in 2014 and has pledged another US$ 2 million in March 2015. Secretary General's Special Representative on Syria De Mistura is continuing his efforts to facilitate dialogue in Syria. India will continue to support a Syrian-led inclusive political dialogue that resolves the current crisis and meets the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society.

21. In line with its longstanding support to the cause of Palestine, India will continue to support initiatives at the UN for an early realization of a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine side by side and at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Arab Peace Initiative, Quartet Roadmap and relevant UN resolutions.

22. As far as African issues are concerned, given our significant economic interests in South Sudan and contribution to peacekeeping in the country, we have supported the resolution of the conflict between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and forces led by former Vice President Riek Machar and other opposition /rebel forces. It is in this context that the peace agreement by the Inter Governmental Authority Development (IGAD) has been welcomed. We will continue with this approach with the objective of the agreement being implemented and peace returning to the country.

23. As for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is concerned, we will continue to support the UN Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO), in which we have a large peacekeeping contingent and seek to ensure that the activities of the Force Intervention Brigade do not adversely impact on the safety and security of the other components of MONUSCO. During the last year we have made constant efforts to keep the mandate of the Force Intervention Brigade separate from that of the overall Mission. We will continue to stress this approach.

24. With the draw-down of international security presence in Afghanistan, we will call for continued engagement of the international community through support in security, political and economic areas to the Afghan Government so that the country does not re-lapse into conflict. The international community must continue to focus on and address the support for terrorists and armed groups that fuels conflict in Afghanistan

(d) Peacekeeping

25. The 70th session of the General Assembly will see action on the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Peace Operations that was chaired by Jose Ramos Horta as well as on the Implementation Report that is being prepared by the Secretary General. Our effort will be to ensure acceptance of the recommendation relating to the primacy of political solutions so that mandating of peacekeeping missions only takes place when there is peace to keep, and not with offensive or interventionist mandates. We will also attempt to ensure that there is no dilution of the cardinal principles of peacekeeping. i.e. impartiality, consent of the parties and non use of force other than in self-defence and in exceptional circumstances as stressed by the Panel. Our continuing objective is to initiate a process of consultation between the UN Security Council and troop contributing countries before peacekeeping mandates are drawn up or modified in keeping with Article 44 of the UN Charter.

26. UN peacekeepers are increasingly facing allegations of misconduct, including of sexual exploitation and abuse. It will be our attempt to see that all cases are investigated and that there is zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse. Apart from our own peacekeepers, those of others countries should also conform to their highest standards of professionalism and this should be ensured by procedures that are put in place.

27. As one of the largest stakeholders in UN peacekeeping, we have a direct interest in ensuring the high salience of uniformed personnel in peacekeeping missions. For this it is imperative that India continues to be seen as a country with the commitment and ability to provide UN peacekeeping not just in quantity but also in highest quality of trained and capable peacekeepers and enabling assets.

(e) Terrorism

28. We will continue to strive for progress towards finalization of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. We will also initiate action for the listing of terrorists of security concern to us by the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committees of the UN Security Council.

29. The fifth biennial review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy will be conducted during the 70th session. It will be our attempt to see that our core concerns are addressed in this resolution.

(f) Human Rights

30. India will continue to stress the need for a holistic and integrated approach to human rights based on the principles of inter-dependence, inter-relatedness, indivisibility and universality of all human rights. We will continue to espouse a cooperative and consultative approach rather than intrusive monitoring and selective country spotlighting. Our emphasis is both on promotion - which entails support for capacity building - and for protection, an approach that is informed by dialogue, consultation and consensus building.

(g) Disarmament

31. We would work towards initiatives for promoting the goal of universal and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament. Our approach would be in line with the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan presented at the 3rd Special Session of UNGA Disarmament in 1988 setting out a roadmap for achieving nuclear disarmament. We would seek to highlight that the goal of nuclear disarmament can be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that is global and non-discriminatory. There is a need for meaningful dialogue between all countries possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines.

(h) Budgetary and financial issues

32. The 70th session of the General Assembly will approve the budget for the biennium 2016-2017. The proposed budget is based on the outline that was approved by the 69th session. It is expected that the process will not be very contentious. We hope to play a constructive role so that the budget can be adopted in a timely manner.

33. The forthcoming GA session will also consider the scales of assessment, both for the regular and peace keeping budgets for 2016-18. The current methodology for the regular budget, which is based on capacity to pay, has been in place since 2000. We would be in favour of its continuity even though it would mean a significant increase in India's own share. It is our belief that the current methodology is fundamentally sound and any attempt to disturb the fine balance it represents would only be counter-productive.

Assessment

34. The WSIS+10 review and action by member states on the report of the High Level Panel on Peace Operations will dominate the agenda of the 70th session. The most important and overdue issue, however, remains UN Security Council reform. There is reasonable possibility that member states, conscious of the need to reserve the centrality and the relevance of the United Nations, will use the opportunity of the 70th session to take matters to their logical conclusions. The question of selection in appointment of the next Secretary General will also dominate the agenda of the forthcoming session.

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