16 Oct 2010
"There can be no Good and Bad Terrorists"
By S. M. Krishna

India remains fully committed to the principles and purposes of the United Nations and believes that the UN should be at the core of global governance and efforts to meet the challenges of collective peace, security and development. The UN, however, needs urgent reform to reflect contemporary realities and to effectively meet emerging global challenges. 

The changes in the global geo-strategic order since 1945 have barely been reflected in the most vital of the UN’s organs, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. The Security Council spends most, if not all of its time, on issues pertaining to the developing world. Developing countries contribute almost all the troops that are part of the UN’s peacekeeping presence worldwide. 

Yet, their voice on the Council’s high table on decisions relating to international peace and security is barely audible. Despite the agenda of the Council being seized of conflicts in Africa, yet, there is no permanent member from Africa in the Security Council. 

In the inter-governmental negotiations on the issue of Security Council reform, an overwhelming majority of the membership expressed clear support for expansion in both the permanent and the non-permanent categories of the Council along with an improvement of its working methods. It is imperative that we take these negotiations to an early and logical conclusion. 

India has an abiding commitment for achieving universal, non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament within a specified timeframe, a vision that was most eloquently articulated here in the General Assembly by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988. More than two decades later the painful reality is that this goal still remains a distant one. In the meantime, newer threats have emerged, including the threat of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. 

India tabled a working paper on nuclear disarmament in 2006 containing specific proposals that reflect the spirit and substance of the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan. We call for an intensification of discussion and dialogue amongst Member States and the larger non-governmental communities so as to strengthen the international consensus that can be translated into concrete action on achieving nuclear disarmament. I participated in the High Level Meeting on Disarmament called by the Secretary General on 24th September to lend India’s support for the objectives of that meeting. 

India remains committed to the negotiation in the CD of a multilateral, non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable FMCT that meets India’s national security interests. We hope that the Conference will be able to commence negotiations at an early date. We remain committed to a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. 

Terrorism has emerged as one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. To defeat this scourge, it is imperative for the global community to build on international cooperation and take concerted action against terrorists and their sponsors. Acts of terrorism need to be condemned by all, wherever and whenever they are committed, by whomsoever and for whatever purposes. There can be no justification for terrorism just as there can be no good and bad terrorists. It is important for every Member State of the UN to note that it is no longer possible to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. 

India is a party to all major international conventions against terrorism and fully supports implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism strategy. However, there remain considerable gaps in the international legal framework against terrorism. The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is designed to fill these gaps. We urge Member States to display the necessary political will to finalise and adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. 

Peace and stability in South Asia is one of our highest priorities. We are committed to good neighbourly relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan. It is in this spirit of solidarity with the people of Pakistan in their hour of need, that we pledged US$ 25 million aid which is being channeled through the UN for flood relief efforts in that country. As a neighbor we wished to provide succor and relief in a timely manner to the victims of this natural disaster. We are saddened by the loss of life and property that Pakistan has suffered as a result of these unprecedented floods. 

It is well known that many countries have deep rooted concerns about the growth and consolidation of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. We share these concerns, particularly because Jammu & Kashmir, which is an integral part of India, is the target of such Pakistan-sponsored militancy and terrorism. Pakistan must fulfill its solemn commitment of not allowing territory under its control to be used for terrorism directed against India. 

Credible and firm action by Pakistan against terrorist groups operating from its soil is in the interest of the region as it is in Pakistan’s own interest. Pakistan cannot impart lessons to us on democracy and human rights. If, however, Pakistan were to live up to its commitment not to allow use of its soil by terrorists acting against India, this would significantly help reduce the trust deficit that impedes the development of better bilateral relations between our two countries. We are neighbours, and as neighbours, we have an obligation to work together. 

Afghanistan has recently successfully concluded parliamentary elections. We believe the international community needs to be steadfast in its engagement with Afghanistan to ensure the success of its reconstruction efforts and its emergence as a democratic, pluralistic and prosperous society. The continuing existence of safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorists beyond Afghanistan’s borders is the major impediment to the restoration of peace and security in Afghanistan. This should be a primary focus of the international community. 

S. M. Krishna is the Minister of External Affairs, Government of India; adapted (selected excerpts) from the statement at 65th session of UNGA on September 29, 2010

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