Friday, March 22, 2013


The International Seminar on ‘India and International Organizations: Towards Multilateralism’ organized by the Department of International Relations of the Central University of Kerala (20-22 March, 2013) was a timely initiative which led to a meeting of minds between academics and practitioners on International Organizations.

Although dramatic changes in the world, including globalization, have had their impact on multilateralism, leading to the emergence of multiple organizations and groupings, the centrality of the United Nations should be maintained and its principles and purposes must be upheld.

India should continue to contribute to the setting of standards in various areas of activities of member states and serving the common good of humanity. Our active participation not only in debates, but also in the peace operations of the UN should be dictated by our obligations as a responsible member state.

Reform of the UN, particularly an expansion of the Security Council is imperative to reflect the reality of global power today and to enhance its credibility and moral authority. India’s case for permanent membership has been well established and it must be pursued vigorously, but it must be recognized that, as of today, no formula, which can command the required support for change, exists. The change being sought is revolutionary and must bide its time.

The fact that the academic studies in the field of international organizations are integral to the state-centric study of international relations has a bearing on the theoretical understanding of multilateralism.

India has a commendable record in peacekeeping operations and should continue its participation as a global public good and a contribution to international peace and security. We should also maintain the guiding principles of peacekeeping such as host state consent, impartiality and minimum use of force.

In the context of broader acceptance of the concept of elimination of nuclear weapons, the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan of 1988 should be pursued in the appropriate disarmament forums.

India has played a significant role in protecting and promoting human rights worldwide, but its role in the area must be studied and documented. It will demonstrate that respect for human rights is one of the fundamentals of our foreign policy.

The context and substance of nonalignment have changed but as an instrument of strategic autonomy it has considerable significance. NAM provides a global forum, the second largest after the UN to its member states to communicate its arguments. NAM has the potential to emerge as a likely precursor of a global parliament.

Terrorism is unacceptable as a means of achieving the objectives, however genuine and justified those may be.  International rules and mechanisms must be strengthened for multilateral co-operation to combat this global menace.

Energy security is a crucial issue for all countries today. A system of global energy governance involving international collective action, undertaken to mange and distribute energy resource and provide services offers a meaningful and useful framework for addressing energy related challenges.

The adoption by the UN and its agencies of the concept of a gender mainstreaming perspective, which aims to make gender an aspect of development to varying degrees and with varying success, is a welcome step.

The existing global structure of space technology should be revamped in such a way that it should bridge the gap between the developed and the developing nations.

The climate change regimes negotiated at the global level should address the development needs of the developing nations.

Efforts should be made to eliminate the democracy deficit in the international organizations, ensuring the effective participation of developing countries.

 As we are witnessing a proliferation of ‘lex specialis’ regimes, the principles of positive discrimination should be given legal sanctity in them.

The existing global economic architecture should address the needs of the developing nations such as poverty, unemployment and inflation in the light of the global financial crisis.

The special and differential principles contained in WTO should be made mandatory to strengthen the principles of positive discrimination and protect the interest of weaker states, which constitute 2/3 of nation states.

The existing gap between the academic community and the practitioners of multilateral diplomacy must be reduced by increased interaction between them. The academic studies should provide the necessary inputs for diplomatic negotiations. In turn, the lessons of diplomatic experiences should be shared with the academic fraternity to enrich their ability for introspection and analysis. 


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