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Need united global front against terror: Modi

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 27: Making the social programmes of his government and its governance the centrepiece of his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said India’s achievements on sanitation, health insurance, bank accounts, digital identification are an “inspiration to the entire world”, especially “those countries striving for development, each in their own way”.

While much of his address was devoted to India’s ambitious targets — from conservation of water and its availability in 150 million homes to 20 million houses for the poor, elimination of single-use plastic to eradication of tuberculosis five years ahead of the 2030 global target — the Prime Minister, without naming Pakistan, described terrorism as one of the biggest challenges for not just India but the entire world, and said the international community must stand united against terror.

Speaking in Hindi, Modi said: “Hum uss desh ke waasi hain jisne duniya ko yuddh nahin, Buddh diya hai, shanti ka sandesh diya hai (We belong to a country which has given the world not war but Buddha, and the message of peace).” He said if there’s any country that has made the biggest sacrifice in UN peacekeeping missions, it is India.

Full text of PM's address to UNGA: Lack of unanimity over terror dents principles that are basis for creation of UN, says Narendra Modis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday exhorted the international community to stand united against terrorism, which he described as one of the biggest challenges not for any single country, but for the entire world. Addressing the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Modi lamented the lack of unanimity among the member states on the issue of terrorism, saying it dents those very principles, that are the basis for the creation of the United Nations.

Full text of PMs address to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA):

Namaskar

Hon'ble Mr. Secretary,

It is a great honour for me to address the 74th Session of the United Nations on behalf of 1.3 billion Indians.

It is a very special occasion, also, because this year, the entire world is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

His message of truth and non-violence is very relevant for us even today, for peace , development and progress in the world.

Mr Secretary,

This year, the world’s biggest election took place. In the world’s biggest democracy , the highest ever number of voters voted me and my government into power for a second term with an even stronger mandate than before.

And it is thanks to this mandate that I am standing here before you once again.

However, the message that this mandate conveys has an even greater significance, a wider and more inspiring one.

Mr Secretary,

When a developing country is able to successfully implement the world’s biggest sanitation campaign, building over 110 million toilets in just 5 years for its countrymen, all its achievements and outcomes are an inspirational message for the entire world.

When a developing country, successfully runs the world’s biggest health insurance scheme, giving 500 million people the facility of an annual health cover of 500,000 Rs for free treatment; the achievements and responsive systems that result from this scheme show the world a new path.

When a developing country, successfully runs the world’s biggest financial inclusion scheme, opening over more than 370 million bank accounts for the poor in just 5 years, the systems that result, build confidence in the poor across the entire world.

When a developing country, launches for its citizens, the world’s biggest digital identification program, giving them a biometric identity , thereby ensuring they can avail their rights, and saves more than 20 billion dollars by checking corruption, the modern systems that result from it, give the world a new hope.

Mr Secretary,

As I came in here, on a wall at the entrance to this building, I noticed the sign, 'no more single use plastic' I am pleased to inform this assembly that even as I am addressing you today, a very large campaign is being implemented across the entire country to make India free of single use plastic.

In the next 5 years, apart from promoting water conservation, we are going to ensure water supply to 150 million homes.

In the next 5 years, we are going to build over 125,000 kilometers of new roads.

By the year 2022, when India celebrates its 75th Independence day, we plan to build 20 million houses for the poor.

Though the world may have set itself the target of eradicating TB by 2030, in India we are working towards eradicating it by 2025.

The question that arises is just how have we been able to achieve all of this. How is it that such rapid changes are taking place in India?

Mr. Secretary,

India is a great culture that is thousands of years old, a culture that has its own vibrant traditions, and which encompass universal dreams. Our values and culture see divinity in every being and strive for the inclusive welfare of all.

Therefore, The very core of our approach is public welfare through public participation and this public welfare is not just for India but for the entire world.

And that is the reason we draw inspiration from our motto : Collective efforts , for growth of all, with everyone’s trust (sabka sath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas).

And this too, is not confined within the borders of India.

Our endeavours, are neither an expression of pity, nor a pretense. They are inspired by a sense of duty, and duty alone.

All our endeavours, are centered on 1.3 billion Indians. But the dreams that these efforts are trying to fulfill, are the same dreams that the entire world has, that every country has, and that every society has.

The efforts are ours, but their fruits are for all, for the entire world.

And this conviction of mine, gets stronger every day, when I think of those countries, who, just like India, are striving for development, each in their own way.

When I hear about their joys and sorrows, when I get to know about their dreams, my resolve to develop my country at a faster pace gets even stronger, so that India’s experience can be beneficial to these countries.

Mr. Secretary,

3000 years ago, a great poet of India, Kariyan Pungun-dra-naar, wrote in Tamil the most ancient language of the world:

"Ya-dum, Oo-ray, Yaav-rum Ke-rir”

which means We belong to all places, and to everyone.

This sense of belonging beyond borders, is unique to India.

In the last 5 years, India has worked towards strengthening its centuries old great tradition of fraternity among nations and welfare of the world, which is indeed, in line with the key objectives of the United Nations.

The issues that India raises, the kind of new global platforms that India has come forward to build, seek collective efforts to address serious global challenges and issues.

Mr. Secretary,

If you look at it from a historic and per capita emission perspective, India’s contribution to Global Warming is very low.

However, India is one of the leading nations when it comes to taking steps to address this issue.

On one hand, we are working towards achieving the target of 450 Giga Watts of renewable energy, and on the other hand, we have also taken the initiative to create the International Solar Alliance.

One of the effects of Global Warming is the increasing number and severity of natural disasters, and at the same time they are appearing in new areas and in new forms.

In view of this, India has initiated the formation of the "Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure” (CDRI). This coalition will help build infrastructure which can withstand natural disasters.

Mr. Secretary,

The largest number of sacrifices made by soldiers of any country for UN Peace keeping missions is from India.

We belong to a country, that has given the world, not war, but Buddha’s message of peace.

And that is the reason why, our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and the outrage.

We believe, that this is one of the biggest challenges, not for any single country, but for the entire world and humanity.

The lack of unanimity amongst us on the issue of terrorism, dents those very principles, that are the basis for the creation of the U.N.

And that is why, for the sake of humanity, I firmly believe, that it is absolutely imperative, that the world unites against terrorism, and that the world stands as one against terrorism.

Mr. Secretary

The face of the world is changing today.

Modern technology in the 21st Century, is bringing about sweeping changes in social life, personal life, economy, security, connectivity and international relations.

In such a situation, not a fragmented world, is in the interest of no one. Neither do we have the option to confine ourselves within our boundaries.

In this new era, we will have to give new direction and energy to Multilateralism, and to the United Nations.

Mr. Secretary,

One Hundred and Twenty Five years ago, the Great Spiritual Guru, Swami Vivekananda, gave this message to the world during the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

The message was, "Harmony and Peace…. And NOT Dissension”.

Today, the message from the world’s largest democracy, for the International community is still the same: "Harmony and Peace”.

Thank you Very much.s

Pakistan, China raise Kashmir, Imran Khan drops n-threat again

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 27: Reiterating his nuclear threat, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan used the United Nations platform Friday to criticise India and warned of a “bloodbath” in Kashmir.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi too raised the issue of Kashmir and said it should be resolved as per UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreements. Speaking at the UNGA, Wang said that “no actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken”.

Addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time, Khan spoke for about 50 minutes and repeated many of his remarks made in speeches earlier, including at Muzaffarabad and addresses and statements at various US think-tanks this week.

During his speech, the Indian delegation led by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was not present. They left immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended his address earlier.

A few Indian diplomats at the Permanent Mission at the UN were, however, present during Khan’s speech, who spoke 30 minutes after Modi. India is expected to exercise its right to reply.

“There are 900,000 troops there, they haven’t come, as Narendra Modi says, for the prosperity of Kashmir… These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do? When they come out, there will be a bloodbath,” Khan told the UNGA in New York.

He added that there could be a repeat of the fighting between the nuclear-armed neighbours seen in February if India blamed Pakistan for any terrorist attack. He said: “If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. But supposing a country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice: either you surrender, or you fight for your freedom till death?”

“What will we do? I ask myself these questions. We will fight… and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders.”

During his speech, he once mistakenly called Narendra Modi India’s President. He also said that Pakistan had decided to “dismantle what was left of these terrorist groups”, and asked the UN to send observers.

Khan spent a substantial amount of time explaining how there is nothing called “radical Islam”. “There is only Islam,” he said. He also attacked the RSS and said Prime Minister Modi is a life member of the organisation. He also expressed concern at the plight of Kashmiris in India and about the possibility of radicalisation of Indian Muslims and some of 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide, who, he said “are watching” the situation in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the US has asked Pakistan why it is only bothered about the human rights of Muslims in Kashmir and is not highlighting the “horrific conditions” that continue to exist for the members of the community throughout China.

UN summits to urge ‘ambition and action’ on climate change, sustainable development: Guterres

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 18: There are five key United Nations summits taking place next week to spur action on the climate crisis and other global concerns, which will showcase the UN as a “driver for meaningful, positive change”, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

For António Guterres, there is no time to lose in the face of climate change, rising inequality, increasing hatred and intolerance; and what he described as an “alarming” number of peace and security challenges.

“The biggest challenge that leaders and institutions face is to show people we care – and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s anxieties with answers. The upcoming high-level week is designed to do precisely that,” he told journalists in New York on Wednesday.

“There will be dozens of summits, meetings and side events. But I can distill the significance of all these discussions into two words: ambition and action. I see the high-level week as an excellent opportunity to showcase the United Nations as a centre for solutions and a driver for meaningful, positive change in people’s lives.”

The high-level week kicks off on Monday with the Climate Action Summit. Guterres said several plans to dramatically reduce emissions over the next decade, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, should be unveiled there.

The Secretary-General added that the UN is doing its part. This includes the announcement today of the Climate Action for Jobs initiative by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside Spain and Peru.

The four other summits will address universal health coverage, the Sustainable Development Goals, financing for development and support to Small Island Developing States.

Guterres promised that his message throughout will be simple: “Put people first. Their needs. Their aspirations. Their rights.”

New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 7: The new President of the 74th session of the General Assembly brings to his role “years of United Nations experience”, the UN chief said on Tuesday, as Tijjani Muhammad-Bande banged the gavel to open his year in office.

“He also brings valuable insights into some of the pressing peace and security, human rights and sustainable development challenges facing this body, from the spread of violent extremism to the threat of the global climate crisis”, Secretary-General António Guterres said of Nigeria’s former UN Representative.

He commended President Muhammad-Bande on prioritizing peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion, all of which the UN chief called “central to the sustainable development agenda”.

“I also applaud your emphasis on human rights and gender parity”, he spotlighted.

Pointing to the “five critical summits” next week on climate action, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), financing for development, universal health care and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Guterres underscored that “multi-stakeholder engagement will be essential”.

Noting that in today’s rapidly changing word, “challenges are global and increasingly interlinked”, the Secretary-General noted that the Organization would be celebrating its 75th birthday. And because people have “profound” expectations of the UN, Mr. Guterres, expressed his concern over the “trust deficit between nations”, maintaining that there is a pressing need to convince people that it is “relevant to all and that multilateralism offers real solutions to global challenges”.

“Transparency, dialogue and greater understanding are essential to alleviating mistrust”, he spelled out, calling the Assembly “a unique and indispensable forum” for the world to come together and discuss “sensitive and important issues”.

He stressed the importance of “strong and effective multilateral institutions and architecture”, and international relations that are based on international law. In closing he wished the session success in its work towards achieving “our common goals of peace, prosperity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet.”

In his inaugural address as General Assembly President, or PGA, Mr. Muhammad-Bande said he would “collaborate and coordinate” with the Security Council, and the Secretariat “to ensure that greater attention is paid to prevention rather than reaction to full blown conflict.”

“I will also advocate for effective early detection and warning systems, as well as mediation, negotiation and peaceful settlement of ongoing conflicts”, he promised. “I will work to engender cooperation that will address drivers of conflicts such as poverty, exclusion and illiteracy”.

Segueing into the importance of quality education, the PGA said “the fact that no nation can develop past its educational capacity, particularly that of its teachers, means we must work to ensure that Member States can partner on teacher training, access to free and quality primary and secondary education” and highlighted the urgency in devising “means to attend to the educational needs of all”.

Turning to climate change, which Muhammad-Bande called “a key issue in development”, he said, “we must tackle its causes and repercussions: “The recent emergencies in the Bahamas, Mozambique, and the Sahel region, among others, reminds us of the urgency of strengthening global action to tackle climate change”, he argued.

Accentuating inclusion, the PGA flagged the importance of ensuring the rights and empowerment of youth, women and the disabled, as a continuing priority.

“In line with the far-sighted vision of its founders”, he stated that “as the most representative deliberative body” of the UN, the Assembly needs to “redouble its efforts to bridge gaps and act for the common good of the people we serve, particularly as we prepare for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Organization”.

Muhammad-Bande said that we must “build trust with one another, deepen partnerships and show empathy” as “the only way to resolve the many challenges that confront us”.

“We will have to strive together, to deliver for all”, concluded the new General Assembly President.

UN Chief Should Denounce China’s Abuses in Xinjiang

By Deepak Arora

NEW YORK, Sept 17: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should join the growing number of those speaking out publicly against China’s mass detention of over one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Commission of Jurists, and World Uyghur Congress, said in a letter to the secretary general.

By publicly and unequivocally condemning the Chinese government’s abusive policies and calling for the immediate closing of its “political education” camps in Xinjiang, Guterres would make an important contribution in addressing one of the most pressing human rights issues during his tenure leading the United Nations, according to the letter released here today.

“Secretary-General Guterres should use the weight and authority of his office to unambiguously call on China’s leadership to shut down Xinjiang’s abusive detention centers,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The countless victims of China’s latest wave of repression depend on his leadership in standing up to Beijing and demanding an end to the persecution.”

In July, 25 countries issued a joint statement on Xinjiang at the UN Human Rights Council that raised serious concerns about the arbitrary detention and intense surveillance that the predominantly Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang has been subjected to in recent years. The Chinese government responded with endorsements from some of the most abusive governments in the world in a statement praising China’s Xinjiang policies.

The secretary-general’s preferred approach to the Chinese government on Xinjiang has been to conduct private diplomacy, the groups said. However, the Chinese government has answered for its actions only after intense public pressure generated by concerned governments, human rights organizations, and the media.

The groups asked Guterres to urge Chinese authorities to grant the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, and UN experts prompt and unimpeded access to the camps. They also urged him to publicly support creation of a fact-finding mission or similar mechanism to assess the scale and nature of abuses in Xinjiang and to keep the UN Human Rights Council regularly informed.

Chinese authorities exert pressure on governments and public figures to keep silent about Xinjiang and other human rights issues in China. However, the secretary-general has a responsibility as the leader of the UN to do all he can to promote the human rights of everyone in Xinjiang, including through strong public diplomacy.

“The scale of China’s abuses against Turkic Muslims cries out for the secretary-general’s principled leadership, despite pressure from China,” Roth said. “He should reject China’s bullying and speak out firmly on behalf of human rights.”

Mitigating climate change in Asia-Pacific could give region economic boost

By Deepak Arora

BANGKOK, Sept 6: The urgent need to move towards a low carbon economy and build resilience, would not only mitigate the worst impacts of climate change in the Asia-Pacific, but also lift the region economically, according to the body overseeing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW 2019) wrapped up on Friday in Bangkok, a key takeaway was that long-term holistic planning would enable countries there to tap into the huge potential of renewable energy, and new technology while maximizing socio-economic benefits.

Other compelling reasons to rapidly shift to low-carbon and resilience were outlined by high-level speakers who warned that current levels of ambition to tackle climate change are putting the world on a path towards global warming of more than 3 degrees Celsius – that is double the goal of 1.5 degrees.

Participants agreed that in addition to governments, the transformation must be driven by sub-national regions and cities, the private sector and finance.

Noting that over half the global population of 1.8 billion young people live in the vast Asia-Pacific region, UNFCCC said that youth groups played an important role in the week, by engaging with participants and coving discussions on social media.

Key outcome messages will provide “important input to the Climate Action Summit convened by the UN Secretary-General on 23 September in New York”, UNFCCC said in a press release, adding that “the results will also help build momentum” towards the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) that will take place in Santiago, Chile, 2-13 December 2019.

Countries are currently designing enhanced national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement (Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) and the Summit in New York will be an opportunity for governments and many climate action players to announce new plans and initiatives before the NDCs are communicated to the UN in 2020.

Climate change adaptation planning and finance were also key throughout APCW 2019, with a focus on communities and ecosystems most in need.

On building resilience to climate change, indigenous peoples from the region, academics and others, stressed the need for a mindset shift in the fight against climate change, proposing policies to help transform societies for long-term resilience.

Carbon pricing, capacity-building and regional climate finance were also discussed, with a spotlight on highly vulnerable nations.

During the week, work began on a new climate strategy for Indian Ocean Island States to access finance for priority projects.

And the UN Climate Change Secretariat is assisting 10 sub-regions involving 77 countries in Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean in preparing strategies to access scaled up climate finance.

Organized every year in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Asia-Pacific, Regional Climate Weeks allow governments and other concerned parties to address the full spectrum of climate issues under one umbrella. The central aim is to bring together the public and private sectors around the common goal of addressing climate change.

APCW 2019 was organized by UNCCC in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and other international and regional organizations. It is the third Regional Climate Week to this year, following one in Accra, Ghana in March and in Salvador, Brazil in August.

Next year, the United Arab Emirates will host a Regional Climate Week for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Intra-Afghan negotiations, 'the only solution': Guterres

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 3: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned the spate of attacks, including the bombing in Kabul, saying in a statement that "such indiscriminate attacks can never be justified".

"The Secretary-General believes that the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is through an inclusive process of intra-Afghan negotiations. He encourages all political leaders to work together during this period leading to presidential elections and stresses the urgency of ensuring security across Afghanistan."

In the wake of a surge in violence across Afghanistan over the past week, the country’s top UN envoy has pleaded for an end to the fighting through a negotiated peace settlement, and an end to the “indescribable loss” suffered by victims’ loved ones

“The violence this week across Afghanistan underscores the urgency of ending the conflict through a negotiated settlement. The suffering of the Afghan people must end,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, who heads up the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in a statement released on Tuesday.

“The Taliban-claimed attack yesterday in Kabul caused more than 100 civilian casualties. Taliban assaults in Kunduz and in Baghlan resulted in grave harm to the civilian populations. There were scores of civilian casualties,” he added.

One attack occurred on an international housing complex in the capital Kabul on Monday, killing at least 16 people, according to media reports; this followed two major assaults in and around the cities of Kunduz and Baghlan over the weekend.

Residents near compounds housing foreign staff are demanding international groups be moved to other locations, being that even aid organizations have been targets of deadly blasts.

One local man said: “This isn’t once or twice, it’s the fourth or fifth time, all by the Taliban. A lot of my friends, a lot of my family have been wounded or killed.”

Yamamoto said that the UN “remains concerned about the harm caused to civilians by the impact of pro-Government aerial and search operations,” referring to aerial operations on 31 August in Afghanistan’s Faryab province, that left 12 civilians dead and five others injured, the majority women and children.

The spasm of violence could jeopardize months of progress made on a peace deal between United States and Taliban negotiators, with the extremist group reportedly explaining that Monday’s bombing on Kabul’s Green Village, home to several international organizations, was retaliation for attacks by US-backed Government forces.

With elections due to take place next month, “now is the time to seek unity and solidarity,” Yamamoto stressed, highlighting that security across the country during these times “is an urgent priority.”

“As I have said repeatedly,” the UNAMA chief continued, “the ultimate objective in Afghanistan must be a negotiated intra-Afghan settlement to the conflict. Meaningful steps must take place now to obtain an immediate and nationwide halt to violence. The United Nations stands ready to help.”

UNAMA has tracked nearly 100,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan since the agency began keeping count in 2009, with 1,500 recorded in July of this year alone.

Earlier this month, as Afghanistan marked 100 years of independence, Yamamoto expressed hope that September’s planned elections would give voice to the people, and act as “a real possibility for breakthroughs in peace.”

Following the mass bloodshed of recent days, he called for solidarity: “I urge all parties here in Afghanistan and abroad, to seize any opportunity for peace and come together in meaningful negotiations,” the mission chief stressed.

 

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