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Remarks by Minister of State for External Affairs Shri V. Muraleedharan in UN Security Council High Level Open Debate ‘Peacebuilding and sustaining peace-Diversity, State-building and the search for peace’

October 12, 2021

Let me begin by conveying best wishes and greetings of my Prime Minister to His Excellency President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta on Kenya’s historic presidency of the United Nations Security Council.

2. It is indeed a singular privilege to represent my Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, at this important High-Level Debate on a topic that is extremely important and pertinent to the global south, particularly countries in Africa.

3. I would like to thank His Excellency Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, His Excellency Mr. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, His Excellency Mr. Thabo Mbeki, Former President of South Africa, and Ms. Fawzia Koofi, First Woman Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Afghanistan for enriching this open debate with their insights.

4. The countries facing conflicts or emerging from them, face multiple challenges in their path of peacebuilding and sustaining peace. These are related to causative factors to the conflict, and primarily involve ethnicity, race, and religion, which are dominant identity markers in the society.

5. In addition, societies also encounter political, social, and economic factors which play a determining role in how countries successfully emerge and move forward in addressing these fundamental challenges of state building. History has shown these challenges are not limited to Africa or the developing world. Even the developed world, at some points in history, had faced these challenges, including through extremely violent transitions, before eventually emerging successfully.

6. Mr. President, India’s own context offers a unique manifestation of unity in diversity, where inspite of the convulsions caused by the partition, we still came together as one to form a democratic, pluralistic and inclusive society with our Constitution as the basic bedrock of our polity.

7. Consequently, if one were to talk about embracing diversity and inclusion, India has much to offer on how diversity of identities, whether ethnic, regional, religious, linguistic or others, can come together and live as one nation – the common thread binding us, being the identity of being an Indian first, and all others later. This is what our Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi taught us and this is what we follow in letter and spirit. We believe in the ethos of tolerance and understanding, practicing the age-old ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – The Whole World is One Family. This is relevant everywhere, including to post conflict societies, for the human race to reach its fullest potential.

8. In a globalized, liberalized, and interlinked world, post-conflict state building has faced increasing societal expectations, in terms of political space and socio-economic development, gender equality, and human rights. As a result, state building has become more complicated. Building peace and sustaining the same, therefore, is proving more complex than ending the conflict. This is evident more so in the context of the developing world.

9. At the same time, we have several successful examples where countries have managed to overcome post-conflict challenges. These include South Africa, the transition from apartheid to free and open society; Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Burundi, each of which have been examples of successful transition of post-conflict state building and South Sudan, where we are witnessing the transition.

10. These societies are diverse and have managed to sustain peace through inclusive approach, by setting examples for similar states to emulate. We also have several other examples, including in the South Asia, where diversity has always been the hallmark of the societies. The political leadership of respective countries respecting universal values of peace, truth and compassion have contributed immensely to state building.

11. Mr. President, when we deal with countries coming out of conflict and going into peace building, putting in place strong legal framework as well as building credible institutions based on solid principles is critical. This will also ensure that diversity is protected, and inclusivity is fostered. We need to encourage donor countries which are contributing generously to peace building in Africa and other regions to ensure that those countries coming out of conflict are able to put in place an enduring framework that withstands the test of time.

12. The challenge will always be to make tradeoff between the immediate and long-term. We believe the UN system as a whole should work closely with member states and regional organizations in line with their national requirement and needs and not advocate imposition of ideas of solutions from outside.

13. Terrorism is a clear manifestation of how forces inimical to unity and diversity can seek to destroy the social cohesion and democratic fabric of countries by, inter alia, fomenting disaffection, hatred and violence. The increasing spread of terrorism in Africa is a matter of serious concern. What is even more unfortunate is that these terrorist forces and groups are receiving encouragement from member-states which seek to divide communities by legitimizing terrorist activities.

14. The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy has clearly reinforced yet again that terrorism cannot be justified under any ground and that no country should provide an excuse for such activities. It is equally important that UN organizations take GCTS as a template and not give any encouragement or excuse, even indirectly, to efforts of member-states to justify terrorism in any way.

15. As regards religious identities, we are witnessing how member-states are facing newer form of religious phobias. While we have condemned anti-semitism, Islamophobia and Christianophobia, we fail to recognise that there are more virulent forms of religious phobias emerging and taking roots, including anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias. We have seen in our own neighbourhood and elsewhere the destruction of temples, glorification of breaking of idols in temples, violation of gurudwara premises, massacre of Sikh pilgrims in gurudwaras, destruction of Bamyan Buddhas and other religious iconic sites. Our inability to even acknowledge these atrocities and phobias only gives those forces encouragement that phobias against some religions are more acceptable than those against others. If we chose to be selective about criticizing such phobias or ignoring them, we do so at our own peril.

16. It’s now the time to look at peacebuilding in the broader context and in a more focused manner, especially in the context of COVID pandemic, which is threatening to erode the gains we have made over the years. The 2020 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture that concluded last year gave us a new set of ‘twin resolutions’ on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. We appreciate that as part of its 2020-24 strategy, the Peace Building Fund has put forth a comprehensive scenario, covering a horizon of five years.

Mr. President,

17. We have just heard the remarks from Ms. Fawzia Koofi. The change in authority in Kabul was neither through negotiations, nor inclusive. We have consistently called for a broad based, inclusive process that involves representation of all section of Afghans. The expectations of the international community on Afghanistan, including on combating terrorism, are set out clearly in UNSC Resolution 2593. It is important that commitments made in this regard are respected and adhered to.

18. India has always played a constructive and significant role in the context of peacebuilding through its extensive development partnership with developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia and with LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. India has and continues to assist countries bilaterally in post-conflict situations by providing substantial grants and soft loans. Apart from focusing on infrastructure, especially housing, education and health, on connectivity, on providing livelihood to those impacted by conflict, especially in agriculture, and on projects at the grassroot level, which directly impact the lives of people, India also provides extensive education training and capacity building, including vocational training and in IT focusing particularly on the youth.

19. We will continue to be a pillar of strength for all developing countries in their transition to development, progress and prosperity.

Thank you Mr. President.

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