Days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over: S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar speaks at the General Debate of the 78th session of United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. Photo: PTI

United Nations: India on Tuesday told the UN General Assembly that the days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over, underlining that its Presidency of the G20 sought to focus on key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few.

Beginning his address to the General Debate at the high-level 78th session of the UN General Assembly with the salutation Namaste from Bharat, Jaishankar said India had taken on the G20 Presidency in December 2022 with a sense of exceptional responsibility.

Jaishankar's 'Namaste from Bharat' salutation was a first in his address to the UN General Assembly.

He said Delhi's vision of One Earth, One Family, One Future' sought to focus on the key concerns of the many, not just the narrow interests of a few".

India's G20 Presidency came at a time when the world was witnessing an exceptional period of turmoil.

"As it is, structural inequities and uneven development have imposed burdens on the Global South. But stresses have been aggravated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the repercussions of ongoing conflicts, tensions and disputes. As a result, socio-economic gains of recent years have been rolled back, he said.

Jaishankar referred to remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had said that it was to bridge divides, dismantle barriers and sow seeds of collaboration that nourish a world, where unity prevails over discord and where shared destiny eclipses isolation.

The New Delhi G-20 Leaders' Declaration articulates our collective ability to do so, Jaishankar said, referring to the joint declaration adopted by consensus at the Leaders' Summit in Delhi on September 9 and 10.

"At a time when East-West polarisation is so sharp and North-South divide so deep, the New Delhi Summit also affirms that diplomacy and dialogue are the only effective solutions. The international order is diverse and we must cater for divergences, if not differences. The days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to fall in line are over, he said.

Noting that resources for sustainable development are been severely challenged, many countries are really struggling to make ends meet and navigating the future appears even more daunting today, Jaishankar said India began its G20 Presidency by convening the Voice of the Global South' Summit that enabled it to hear directly from 125 nations and place their concerns on the G20 agenda as Delhi recognised that growth and development must focus on the most vulnerable.

As a consequence, issues which deserve global attention got a fair hearing. More than that, the deliberations produced outcomes that have great significance for the international community, he said.

Jaishankar also underscored that it is noteworthy that at India's initiative, the African Union was admitted as a permanent member of the G20. "By doing so, we gave voice to an entire continent which has long been its due.

He noted that the outcomes of the New Delhi G20 Summit will surely resonate for years ahead. Among them is the Action Plan for Sustainable Development Goals, a crucial need of the day. Equally important are the High Principles of LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) and the Green Development Pact, as they shape our approach to our planet's future.

The minister said the transformative role of Digital Public Infrastructure has also been finally recognised.

As has the salience of women-led development in building an inclusive and progressive society. The reform of international financial institutions (IFI) has been given due weight, as has the resolution of debt vulnerabilities, he said.

Jaishankar further emphasised that the New Delhi G20 outcomes are expressed both as larger policies and as specific initiatives. They could be about building cities for tomorrow or fighting corruption, eliminating hunger or delivering quality education, ending plastic pollution or preserving the ocean-based economy. "And for that matter, enhancing food security or even mapping global skills," he said.

Some address longstanding issues like the gender divide and climate action. Others focus on new concerns such as the responsible harnessing of Artificial Intelligence. All in all, we have placed for the world's consideration a set of actionable propositions, constructive solutions and new directions, Jaishankar said.

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