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A vote of difference

There is considerable difference between the voting behaviour of the US and India at the United Nations, reports Jayanth Jacob.

delhi Updated: Aug 25, 2010 22:33 IST
Jayanth Jacob

The way India has voted on resolutions at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) goes against the notion of a perceived tilt towards the US positions on global issues.

Rather, the UNGA is still perhaps the most coveted forum where the Non-Aligned Movement consensus still exists — and India’s views align more with those of countries such as Russia and China.

Analysis of 69 resolutions (all in the past one year) that involved voting in the UNGA shows that on 63 of them, New Delhi and Washington were not on the same page. These include occasions where either party abstained from voting.

Just on five resolutions — oceans and laws of the sea, transparency in armaments, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects, agricultural technology for development, and international covenants on human rights — India and the US converged.

The resolutions on which India and the US differed deal mostly with Palestine, human rights in Myanmar, Iran, accelerating disarmament commitments, conventional arms control and new economic order relating to international trade, globalisation, etc.

India voted for the resolution on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo by the US in Cuba. All the permanent members of the Security Council except the US voted for it, too.

India voted in favour and the US against 17 resolutions related to various aspects of the Palestine issue.

India, along with China and Russia, voted against the resolution on human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it also abstained from a similar resolution on North Korea, while the US, the UK and France voted in favour of it, and China and Russia against.

India, Russia and China voted against the resolution on human rights in Myanmar, while the US, the UK and France were for it.

“India’s desire to preserve its own strategic autonomy, and not to vote reflexively with or against any major power, has been a hallmark of its approach since Independence,” says Shashi Tharoor, Lok Sabha MP and former minister of state for external affairs.

However, Lalit Mansingh, former foreign secretary who had served as Indian ambassador to the US, says it is not correct to suggest that India-US cooperation is not there on many global issues. “India and the US have convergence on many issues on the global stage. Even India went with the US against Iran’s nuclear programme,” he says.