Sounding a note of caution, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said multilateralism is in serious danger and it would be in the interest of the global community to reform the United Nations. "If we can continue the way we are and given the fact that there is less and less common ground, especially between the P5, the permanent five powers…actually, we are going to make the UN less credible, less relevant, and I don't think the world wants that," he said.
He said this during a panel discussion on the occasion of the release of book 'Portraits of Power: Half a Century of Being at Ring Side' written by former bureaucrat and current Finance Commission Chairman NK Singh. The minister said it is time to reform the United Nations and move beyond speeches and commitments.
In the past 15 years, the UN reform process is a bit like the Groundhog Day, he said, adding that every year, they have the same conversation and start all over again. "If this is to be serious, it has to be a negotiation. Negotiation means text, and record. Negotiation means you take it from point A to point B and then you pick up at point B to point C," he said.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said the UN faces a "crisis of confidence" without comprehensive reforms. "We cannot fight today's challenges with outdated structures. Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence." Modi had said this at the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
Observing that multilateralism is in serious danger today, Jaishankar said that after the Second World War, international politics produced genuine multilateralism but today, "we are seeing more and more balance of interests, the bigger countries even more so really being very much focused on their own interests".
In order to preserve multilateralism, the countries need to move forward, he added. "If multilateralism becomes like a reflection of one view of what globalisation is about, then I think that is putting multilateralism in as much danger as a balance of interest approach," Jaishankar said.
He added, "If you democratise multilateralism, I would say it has a better chance of survival which brings me naturally to the second question that is reforming the United Nations." India would enter the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member on January 1.
"We are pushing for reform in multilateralism partly because obviously it's in our interest but frankly because we think it's good for the world and we see a lot of tailwinds out there. We see that a lot of countries would like us to move forward on this cause," the minister added.