United tions, Jan 31: When serious negotiations on Security Council reforms filly begin this week based on a framework document, they will be a legacy of Asoke Kumar Mukerji who worked incessantly during his tenure as India’s top diplomat at the UN to move the long-stalled process ahead. His peers at the UN acknowledge the leadership of Mukerji in mobilising support for the text-based negotiations to break decades of deadlock and standing up to last minute machitions against it during his tenure as India’s Permanent Representative that ended in December. “Ambassador Mukerji is a formidable, professiol diplomat, highly competent, highly respected by his peers,” said Antonio Patriota, a former foreign minister of Brazil. “He played a specially significant role in coorditing the L-69, which is a coalition of developing countries, large an small, from Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Asia” that works for Council reform. Brazil and India constitute along with Japan and Germany a group known as G-4, which works together for the expansion of the Council and mutually support each other for permanent seats on it.
“Brazil and India coordited vigorously on this issue,” said Patriota, now his country’s UN Permanent Representative. Mukerji was a “very articulate spokesman for India, for its democratic and legitimate Security Council representation.” The reform movement in the UN had been stifled for years mainly by Chi and a group of 13 countries known as Uniting for Consensus (UfC), which is led by Italy and includes Pakistan.
They created a Catch 22 situation by blocking the adoption of a negotiating text, saying it couldn’t be done unless there was a consensus, while a consensus couldn’t be reached without a text on which to base the negotiations.
Sam Kutesa, the president of last General Assembly session, took the decisive step last year to create a negotiating text based on a survey of opinions of member tions on Council reform. Over 120 countries took part in the survey carried out by the Jamaican Permanent Representative, Courtey Rattray, the former head of the reform process known as the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN).
On the fil day of the last session of the General Assembly, Kutesa, who is also the foreign minister of Uganda, had the negotiating text adopted. Chi and Pakistan and other members of the UfC as well as Russia were overcome by the breadth of the support for the negotiating text that they ended their opposition and it was adopted unimously by the Assembly.
But there was a last minute attempt using some UN staffers to sabotage it. Under pressure from Chi and some other countries, they tried to change the wording of Kutesa’s agreed communication with the negotiating text drafted in July before sending it out.
Mukerji, who has the look of a gentle, grey-haired academic, went on the offensive and, backed by British, French and other diplomats, threatened a walkout from their meeting. The staffers backed down and the agreed text was sent out and eventually adopted. Mukerji developed ties to key groups of tions, large and small, backed by initiatives in New Delhi like outreach to Pacific island tions, the India-Africa summit and development assistance to various tions.
Patriota noted that beyond his role in the L-69, Mukerji “also established a network of relationships with our colleagues, others the permanent representatives”. And he, along with the IGN, was able to call on this network to support the text-based negotiations. Mukerji ascribed the success in this and other issues to India interacting in a more inclusive and open manner with other countries. “Inclusiveness gives India the strength,” he said. “That is why we get cooperation from other countries.”
Sylvie Lucas, the Luxembourg Permanent Representative who succeeded Rattray as the head of the IGN, is to convene this week the first meeting that will be based on the negotiating text.
India’s chances of getting a permanent seat on the Council hinge on the outcome of the negotiations. In a twist to the often-quoted diplomatic dictum that tions have no permanent friends but only permanent interests, despite the unfriendly bout with Beijing on Council reforms, Mukerji turned first to Chi for getting the UN to declare the Intertiol Yoga Day. (IANS)