M A I N   N E W S

Manmohan calls for restructuring of UN
India represents Asia at summit
Ajay Kaul and Jaishree Balasubramanian

Bandung, April 24
Reflecting its enhanced stature in world affairs, India today got a rare honour when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke for the whole of Asia at the signing ceremony of a historic Asia-Africa strategic partnership agreement and advocated reforms in the United Nations and international financial institutions.

The New Asia Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP), aimed at boosting economic and political relations and countering threats of globalisation, was signed by 106 countries from the two regions after their two-day summit marking the 50th anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference that led to the birth of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

India being given the honour to represent Asia, even though leaders from countries like China and Japan were also present, is seen with considerable importance since New Delhi is a candidate for a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council.

Addressing the golden jubilee of the Bandung Asia-Africa Conference here after taking a symbolic walk along with other world leaders to commemorate the historic event and the signing ceremony, Dr Singh said the global trading system should be made more sensitive to the needs and aspirations of poorer countries.

He asked the Asian and African countries to “ensure that the architecture of international institutions is democratised and made more representative.”

“This restructuring should include the United Nations and its specialised agencies and the international financial institutions,” he said.

“In the context of the present global challenges, NAM remains a valid and effective instrument to ensure the creation of a more just and fair global order,” he said.

The NAASP declaration aims to ensure peace, stability and security in the two continents besides boosting trade and stepping up cooperation in war against terrorism and trans-national organised crimes.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and South African leader Thabo Mbeki inked the four-page declaration on the NAASP in this historic town where the countries from the two continents got together for the first time in 1955 and subsequently created NAM.

Through the strategic partnership “we will pool together the vast resources and the tremendous creative energies of Asia and Africa to solve some of the most persistent problems of development,” Mr Yudhoyono told the signing ceremony.

In the declaration, the leaders said: “We are determined to prevent conflict and resolve disputes by peaceful means and endeavour to explore innovative mechanisms for confidence building and dispute resolution as well as for post-conflict peace building.”

Dr Singh also spoke about the “lacunae” in governance process in some Asian and African nations and favoured its modernisation to make it suitable to the needs of the current times.

The NAASP “provides a momentum in achieving peace, prosperity and progress and will emphasise the need to promote practical cooperation between the two continents in areas like trade, industry, investment, finance, tourism, information and communication technology.”

The sustainablity of the NAASP shall be conducted through three tiers of interaction; an intergovernmental forum, sub-regional organisations and people-to-people interaction, particularly business, academia and civil society.

The leaders also committed themselves to the principle of self-determination as set in the Final Communiqué of the 1955 Bandung Conference and the Charter of the United Nations.

Expressing their grief at the tsunami disaster that affected much of Asia and parts of Africa, the leaders also resolved to develop an early warning system and pro-active, integrated, multi-sectoral standby arrangements to meet the challenge of possible calamities in future. — PTI

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