India has said that multilateral institutions like the UN must undergo metamorphosis to remain credible, and tangible progress on reform of the Security Council is essential to better address challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
India's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu, speaking at the Informal Consultations on the Declaration for the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the UN, said that at a time when the world is grappling with increasingly complex challenges, "we need to reaffirm our collective commitment to multilateralism".
The United Nations is marking 75 years of its existence this year and India has led the call for speeding up the long-pending reform process, saying the landmark year is the most opportune one for undertaking decisive action on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms.
India has been calling for the reform of the UNSC along with Brazil, Germany and Japan for long, emphasising that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.
The G4 nations of Brazil, Germany, Japan and India support each other's bids for permanent seats on the UNSC.
Ambassador Naidu said: "While the centrality of multilateral institutions like the United Nations to international relations is recognised, if these institutions are to be relevant and credible, they must periodically undergo renewal and metamorphosis, so that they do not remain relics of an outdated geo-political construct of the 1940's".
He said that the section on 'Looking Ahead' in the Food for Thought paper circulated by the co-chairs is critical, as it asks what needs to be done to reinvigorate global governance.
"While we all may not agree on the specifics of reform, we can all agree that tangible progress on reform of the key organs of the UN, in particular the Security Council, is essential if we are to better address the many challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Our declaration should reflect this," Naidu said, stressing that the declaration, whether concise or not, should be the one that makes all countries proud.
Other key areas that need greater focus and concerted action is closing the gender gap in incomes and wages, providing social protection to workers in informal sectors and creation of more jobs in formal sector, addressing negative impacts of trade and investment policies on workers in informal sector including women, Naidu said.
He further said that full and effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda will remain a priority in this decade for action and recognising and harnessing the agency of women and youth in development would be critical.
The ambassador also noted that while much is being said about how rapid technological change and automation can upend the labour market, the positive role of technology as a key driver for development is somewhat neglected.
"We must break the mistrust of technology. We need to harness the potential of emerging technologies to empower the poorest and most deprived," he said, adding that India envisions a catalytic role for the UN in its quest for harnessing the potential of technology for transformative changes.
"UN can and should play a vital role in global norm setting as well as providing operational support required to maximise the role of technology as an enabler and an equalizer," Naidu said.
India also called for a renewed focus on education for inclusive growth, underlining that access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education especially for girls and, above all, linking education with employment opportunities are some of the defining challenges of the times.
"A 21st century education system needs to focus on developing human skills such as compassion, creativity, empathy, critical thinking and communication. Apart from touch screens, we need the human touch more than ever," Naidu said.
The ambassador also stressed if the citizens of the planet are going to have a decent shot at surviving the Anthropocene, there is a need to cut down the per-capita consumption of this planet.
"The objective of growth, growth and more growth may have made sense in the 20th century, but it is no longer fit for purpose. It is time to evolve towards a different kind of economy, focused on achieving well-being for all within the limit of our planet's ecology," Naidu added.