The days of a few nations setting the global agenda and expecting others to fall in line are over, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, highlighting that the voice of the Global South was becoming louder and a more multipolar world was emerging.
Speaking at the 78th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, Jaishankar said the international order was diverse and must cater for divergences, if not differences.
Obliquely deriding Western allies like the United States and France, who have remained on the fence with regard to Canada’s allegations against India, Jaishankar said: “Must we countenance that political convenience determines responses to terrorism, extremism, and violence?”
In a direct comment on Ottawa itself, Jaishankar said: “Respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be exercises in cherry-picking.”
Jaishankar hinted that these actions had further alienated nations of the Global South. “When reality departs from rhetoric, we must have the courage to call it out. Without genuine solidarity, there can never be real trust. This is very much the sentiment of the Global South,” he said.
Jaishankar said at the recently concluded G20 summit in New Delhi, arguing that India placed on the agenda the concerns of 125 nations from the Global South.
“At a time when East-West polarisation is so sharp, and the North-South difference so deep, the New Delhi G20 Summit showed diplomacy is the only way forward,” he said.
The minister stressed the point that the domestic and foreign policy goals set by India for itself would make it different from all those whose rise preceded ours.
“All nations pursue their national interest. We, in India, have never seen that as contradicting global good,” he said.
Jaishankar referred to the series of diplomatic outreach and emergency help extended by India over the past few years. This included the Vaccine Maitri initiative undertaken to supply vaccines to poorer nations during the Covid pandemic, endeavours like the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, which have gathered wide support and response to disasters in Turkey and Syria.
“The most populous and fifth-largest economy in the world knows that its progress makes a real difference to the world. Especially because so many nations identify with us for reasons of history, geography or culture,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry backed India, saying that terrorists had found safe haven in Canada and their Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came out with the outrageous allegations without any proof. Sabry said he was “not surprised” by his remarks since Trudeau keeps making “outrageous and substantiated allegations”.
“The same thing they did for Sri Lanka, a terrible, total lie about saying that Sri Lanka had a genocide. Everybody knows there was no genocide in our country,” he said.