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India pushes for a nuclear-free world

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee urges the United Nations to focus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

world Updated: Oct 02, 2007 10:39 IST

India has demanded an overhaul of the United Nations with an expansion of the UN Security Council, sought renewed focus on nuclear disarmament and expressed readiness to work for a new consensus on non-proliferation.

"The international system cannot be reordered meaningfully without comprehensively reforming the United Nations," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday while participating in the general debate of the 62nd session of the UN general assembly.

"If the organisation is to remain the cornerstone of international architecture in this century, it cannot remain mired in the realities of the 1940s," he said suggesting inter-governmental negotiations to make the Security Council more democratic, representative and responsive.

Seeking restoration and enhancement of the role and authority of the General Assembly, as originally envisaged in the Charter, Mukherjee said reform of the United Nations would be incomplete without revitalisation of the General Assembly.

Recalling India's long-standing commitment to universal, non-discriminatory and comprehensive nuclear disarmament as embodied in the vision of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for a "nuclear-free and non-violent world", he said New Delhi will be bringing proposals in this regard.

"It is disarmament that is our agreed goal, and that subsumes arms control and non-proliferation," Mukherjee said underlining India's "impeccable record in preventing the proliferation of sensitive technologies" in keeping with its commitment to being a responsible nuclear power.

"India is ready to work with the international community to develop a new international consensus on non-proliferation," he said asking the international community to intensify the effort to address the very real threat posed by the link between proliferation of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction), and related materials and technologies to non-state actors.

Noting that the risk posed by the intersection between proliferation and terrorism is real and serious, Mukherjee said while the adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy last September was welcome, much more needs to be done to combat the menace of international terrorism.

"India is convinced that without the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism, the global struggle against terrorism remains incomplete and likely to succeed only partially. We must ensure that there is zero tolerance for all forms of terrorism," he said.

On climate change, Mukherjee suggested concerted international action to address climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, as also national circumstances and social and economic conditions.

"India, for whom energy security is a national imperative, has a very small individual carbon footprint with per capita CO2 emissions just about a quarter of the world's average," he noted. "Even then, we are determined that even as we pursue economic growth, our per capita green house gas emissions will not increase beyond those of the industrial countries."

Describing poverty and underdevelopment "amongst the central challenges of our times," Mukherjee asked the UN to play a key role in bringing about a comprehensive reform of the international financial architecture to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

"This should include measures to ensure a greater voice for and participation by developing countries in the Bretton Woods Institutions," he said seeking priority action to address "the regrettable inversion of global resource flows."

Seeking early and substantive progress at the Doha round of trade negotiations, based on the primacy of the development dimension, Mukherjee said the interests of subsistence farmers be ignored or equated with those of other sectors.

"An illogical linkage between agriculture and NAMA (non-agricultural market access) will only complicate the developmental impact of the round," he said calling the overarching principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries "a categorical imperative."

As part of its commitment to the achievement of human rights for all, Mukherjee said India would work towards developing an international normative framework for promotion and protection of human rights.

He announced India's pledge of $10 million to the UN Democracy Fund in addition to an initial contribution of $10 million.

Mukherjee also thanked members for the unanimous adoption recently by the UN General Assembly of the resolution to annually observe the International Day of Non-Violence October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.