India's vision of Indo-Pacific as free, open, inclusive region premised upon ASEAN centrality: EAM

Yoshita Singh
·4-min read

United Nations, Apr 19 (PTI) India told the UN Security Council on Monday that its vision of the Indo-Pacific as a free, open and inclusive region is premised upon ASEAN centrality and the common pursuit of prosperity, as it called for coordinated and concerted action across borders to combat contemporary security challenges of terrorism, radicalisation and organised crime.

'We think that enhanced cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations will be an important factor in successfully addressing contemporary challenges and conflicts,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.

Addressing the UN Security Council open debate on ‘Enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organisations in enhancing confidence-building and dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution’, he said a rational evaluation of cooperation between the UN and the regional and sub-organisations during the last 75 years will 'provide a good basis for our future engagements.' Highlighting that India has traditionally maintained close and friendly cooperation with regional organisations, Jaishankar said India’s relationship with the ASEAN is a key pillar of its foreign policy and the foundation of its Act East Policy. 'India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific as a free, open and inclusive region, underpinned by international law and a rules based order, is premised upon ASEAN centrality and the common pursuit of progress and prosperity.” The leaders of the Quad last month held a virtual summit vowing to expand cooperation in a range of areas and resolving to work towards a free and open Indo-Pacific, amid China's growing efforts to expand influence in the region. The Quad comprises India, the US, Australia and Japan.

Jaishankar voiced India’s commitment to further building on the momentum of regional cooperation under the framework of The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and make the organisation stronger, vibrant and more effective as well as result-oriented.

Noting that the world order built following the Second World War is under serious stress, Jaishankar said the nature of threats faced by member states when the United Nations was founded 75 years ago has also changed.

'Contemporary security challenges are not limited to territorial or political disputes, but transcend physical or political boundaries,' he said. 'In today’s globalised world, terrorism, radicalisation, drug trafficking and organised crime have a growing salience. The security implications of new technologies cannot be disregarded,' he said.

He underlined that in order to face such diverse challenges, “we need coordinated and concerted action across borders.' Jaishankar pointed out that regional and sub-regional organisations have demonstrated their important role in the maintenance of international peace and security, stressing that with their deep knowledge of local factors and complexities, such organisations are uniquely placed to contribute to finding better solutions to conflicts in their respective regions. 'We, therefore, support engagement between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, in line with the UN Charter.' Referring to India’s centuries-old relationship with Africa, Jaishankar said “we have had close cooperation with the African Union, especially for development partnership initiatives.” In addition to India’s large peacekeeping presence in Africa, India has been deeply committed to peacebuilding and sustaining peace through large UN peacekeeping operations in Africa.

Jaishankar reiterated India’s strong support for cooperation between the UN and regional organisations, stressing that this partnership is inevitable for responding collectively, coherently decisively to effectively prevent, manage and resolve violent conflicts and promote peace and development.

The concept note for the meeting said that the international community’s efforts towards the maintenance of peace and security continue to be seriously challenged. The 'scourge of war' still 'plagues our world today as many regions and countries still experience tensions and instability, often caused by ethnic and racial conflicts, inter-State disputes, transnational organised crime, activities of armed and terrorist groups.” It added that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security is of growing concern.

The concept note stressed that with comparative advantages of geographical proximity, experience and in-depth knowledge of local dynamics, regional and subregional organisations are attuned to the current trends and contexts of their regions and are better prepared for detecting and mitigating the signs and causes of worsening situations.

Recognising these advantages, the UN bodies, especially the Security Council, have held discussions with various regional organisations, including the African Union, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the League of Arab States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

While the Security Council has elaborated on a number of specific aspects of cooperation with regional and subregional organisations, including in conflict prevention and resolution, the note regretted that the unique importance of promoting confidence-building measures and dialogue, in cooperation with regional organisations, in conflict prevention and resolution has been overlooked to a certain extent. PTI YAS ZH AKJ ZH ZH