United Nations will become ‘irrelevant’ without reforms: Jaishankar

Sydney: The United Nations Security Council reforms is like a “hard nut”, but hard nuts can be cracked, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said here on Tuesday as he cautioned that the world body will become “irrelevant” without much-delayed reforms.

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Jaishankar made the remarks while responding to questions after his address at the Lowy Institute on the growing importance of India’s relationship with Australia and the interests that both countries share as members of the security-focused Quad.

“Well, it’s a hard nut but hard nuts can be cracked,” Jaishankar said while responding to a question on UN Security Council reforms.

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Jaishankar said that there are continents which actually feel that the Security Council process does not take into account that into their problems.

“I think that’s hugely damaging to the UN. So one of the developments this time, in fact, has been a very explicit recognition by President Joe Biden of the need to actually reform the UN which is not a small development, but we need to get it because we all know why reform has been blocked for so many years,” he said.

“We completely understand that this is not something which is going to be done easily…but it’s something which has to be done. Otherwise, we will end up frankly, with an increasingly irrelevant United Nations,” he cautioned.

India has been at the forefront of efforts at the UN to push for urgent long-pending reform of the Security Council, emphasising that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.

At present, the UNSC comprises five permanent members and 10 non-permanent member countries which are elected for a two-year term by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The five permanent members are Russia, the UK, China, France and the United States and these countries can veto any substantive resolution. There has been growing demand to increase the number of permanent members to reflect the contemporary global reality.

On India-US relationship, Jaishankar said the bilateral ties started changing during President Bill Clinton’s second term and added that the last five US presidents were consistent in the manner in which they sought to engage India and to enhance bilateral relationship.

He said President Biden, who has been around for a long time, has “seen the evolution of the relationship” and actually he has been involved in growing the relationship with India.

He said the Quad comprising India, US, Japan and Australia is working well because the US is showing flexibility and understanding.

On India-Australia ties, Jaishankar said that he was the sixth Indian minister to visit Canberra after the Labour government came to power and that in itself should tell something about the seriousness with which New Delhi approaches this relationship.

“We passed a milestone with the conclusion earlier this year of a Free Trade Agreement which is currently under the process of ratification,” he said. “I have confidence that this relationship will be strengthened even further,” Jaishankar said, a day after he held wide-ranging bilateral talks with his counterpart Penny Wong.

Jaishankar also met Australian Deputy Prime Minister Defence Minister Richard Marles and exchanged views on regional and global security.

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