External affairs minister S Jaishankar. (HT archive)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar. (HT archive)

Terrorism one of the gravest threats to humankind: Jaishankar

In his virtual address to the high-level segment of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Jaishankar called for a coordinated global response to the challenges confronting the human rights agenda, including terrorism, global inequities and armed conflicts
By Rezaul H Laskar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 04:00 AM IST

Terrorism remains one of the “gravest threats to humankind” and constitutes a severe challenge to the global human rights agenda, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday in the first-ever address to the UN Human Rights Council by an Indian foreign minister.

In his virtual address to the high-level segment of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Jaishankar called for a coordinated global response to the challenges confronting the human rights agenda, including terrorism, global inequities and armed conflicts.

The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the situation in many regions and there is a need for countries to come together to overcome these challenges, he said. He also called for the reform of multilateral institutions and mechanisms so that they can effectively deal with these challenges.

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“Terrorism continues to be one of the gravest threats to humankind. It is a crime against humanity and violates the most fundamental human right – namely, the right to life. As a long-standing victim, India has been in the forefront of the global action against terrorism,” Jaishankar said.

“This is possible only when there is a clear realisation, including in bodies dealing with human rights, that terrorism can never be justified, nor its perpetrators ever equated with its victims,” he said.

India, Jaishankar noted, had presented to the UN Security Council last month an eight-point action plan to deal with terrorism, and the country will continue to work with members of the Security Council and other states to ensure the implementation of this plan.

India’s commitment to protecting basic human rights is also reflected in its strategy to deal with Covid-19 both at home and abroad, he said. “By giving direct food support to 800 million Indians and financial support to 400 million, many of them women, we ensured that basic needs were very effectively addressed even during the lockdown. And as we addressed the health front at home, we responded to the world in equal measure,” he said.

Noting that India provided medicines and equipment to more than 150 countries amid the pandemic, Jaishankar said: “In the same spirit, India has pledged to use its vaccine manufacturing capacity to make vaccines accessible and affordable to all. From Bangladesh to Brazil and from Morocco to Fiji, the pharmacy of the world is today supplying millions of vaccine doses to more than 70 countries.”

Jaishankar also referred to the Indian government’s steps aimed at economic and social development in line with the vision of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas”, or “working together for inclusive development for all and securing the trust of all”.

These initiatives include the largest financial inclusion scheme covering 417 million Indians, free health insurance coverage for 500 million, provision of 150 million homes to the underprivileged, loans at concessional rates to 140 million Indians to promote entrepreneurship, and 50 million free gas connections to women from rural households.

India is committed to take all steps to ensure the “fullest enjoyment of basic human rights of our people, including inclusive and sustainable development”, he said. “India is building a better and fairer society at home; it is also contributing to a better and fairer world,” he added.

In an apparent riposte to recent criticism of the government’s handling of the farmers’ protest and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Jaishankar said India believes “violation of and gaps in implementation of human rights should be addressed in a fair and just manner, with objectivity, non-selectivity, transparency and with due respect to the principles of non-interference in internal affairs and national sovereignty”.

India’s approach to the UN Human Rights Council is guided by a spirit of engagement, dialogue and consultation and the country believes there should be equal emphasis on promotion and protection of human rights. “Both are best pursued through dialogue, consultation and cooperation amongst states as well as technical assistance and capacity building,” Jaishankar said.

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