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Address by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the XII NAM

Address by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the XII NAM

September 3, 1998

Mr. Chairman,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Let me being by saying how pleased we are to be here, in a Summit of the Non-Aligned, where the torch, landed so carefully over the last three years by President Samper Pizano of Colombia, will pass into your hands.

2. As a figure who has played a historic role in the 20th century, it is fitting and a matter of pride that Nelson Mandela will guide the destinies of the Movement now. We wish our South African friends every success in their stewardship of our Movement and offer our fullest cooperation to them. This would be our tribute to South Africa, for it was here that Mohandas Gandhi emerged from the shadows of obscurity to become the Mahatma who is today a beacon of hope to humankind. This is also our last Summit this century- a century that has seen much bloodshed and suffering. It is up to us, representing the majority of the people of this world, to ensure that the next century is one of peace and prosperity.

3. For much of this century, South Africa has dominated the agenda of the Non-Aligned Movement as a victim of political and social repression. It is in the fitness of things that the wheel of history has turned full circle and South Africa will now lead the Movement into the next century as a multi-racial democracy. India will fully cooperate with South Africa to revitalize the agenda of NAM. At this Summit and the ensuing years of South Africa a chairmanship, the Movement should formulate a focused strategy to articulate the concerns of the developing countries to address the challenges of the 21st century. This would be a crowning achievement for South Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement.

4. Since India emerged as a free country in 1947, disarmament has remained a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Our leaders saw it as a natural course for a country that had waged a unique struggle for independence on the basis of 'ahimsa' and 'satyagraha'. A nuclear-weapon-free-world, they reasoned, would enhance the security of all nations. This conviction remains as strong today as it was in 1954 when India raised the call for negotiations for prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and in the interim, a standstill agreement to halt nuclear testing. The goal was a ban that would stop nuclear weapons research and development. This goal still eludes us. The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 drove testing underground. The so-called Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996 is also another partial test ban treaty, which allows states possessing nuclear weapons to continue to refine and improve their arsenals.

5. Our position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty is well known and has been consistent since the Treaty was first proposed. It is a discriminatory treaty and has not served the purpose of non-proliferation, but has given the right to five countries to proliferate vertically in disregard of universal opinion against the very existence of nuclear weapons. The commitment undertaken by the nuclear weapon states to work for general and complete disarmament has been disregarded completely. Even the undertaking to prevent the transfer of nuclear materials and technology has not been adhered to.

6. At the first Special Session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament in 1978, India moved a resolution, along with a number of other Non-Aligned nations, declaring that the use of nuclear weapons be considered a crime against humanity. The second Special Session of the General Assembly in 1982 strengthened this with a draft Convention on the non-use of nuclear weapons. Even today, five nuclear weapon states and their allies continue to oppose this resolution in the United Nations General Assembly. They also recently opposed the Indian proposal that the use of nuclear weapons should be included in the list of war crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the proposed international Criminal Court.

7. During the 1980s, when there was increased concern about a re-emergence of the nuclear arms race. India, along with Sweden, Greece, Mexico, Argentina and Tanzania, launched a six-nation five-continent initiative, which once again focused on the banning of all nuclear tests, a ban that would be a meaningful step towards disarmament. The two leading nuclear weapon states remained opposed to this appeal.

8. In 1988, at the third Special Session of the UN General Assembly on disarmament India put forward an Action Plan for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon -free and non-violent world order. It was a phased plan that envisaged a step-by-step approach, leading to the verifiable elimination of all nuclear arsenals. This unfortunately, was dismissed by the nuclear weapon states as Utopian.

9. Many of us supported the call for the amendment of the Partial Test Ban Treaty into a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty launched by Mexico. India was one of the countries that also took the lead in deposing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1995 which led to the historic opinion if the ICJ a year later, on the illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. We have welcomed the ICJ affirmation that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiation leading to nuclear disarmament in all aspects under strict and effective international control.

10. Since the first summit in 1961, our Movement has registered many achievements to its credit. But on the issue of global nuclear disarmament, which was identified as a priority by our leaders in 1961,we have yet to make decisive headway.

11. With the end of the Cold War, we are convinced that there is a window of opportunity that needs to be exploited. Many sections of the International community are now re-evaluating their earlier positions and becoming convinced of the merits of a phased approach for nuclear disarmament which they considered too idealistic in 1988. The Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons declared that the opportunity now exists, perhaps without precedent or recurrence, to make a new and clear choice to enable the world to conduct its affairs without nuclear weapons.

12. Many others are realizing that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty cannot provide a lasting and genuine solution to the problem of proliferation. It is vital for our Movement, at this juncture, to renew our commitment to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free-world and take advantage of this environment. Many of us have called on the basis of the document adopted at the Cartagena Summit, for multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibiting the development, production, testing deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination.

13. India's recent nuclear tests took place in a geo-political environment where our security was becoming ever more threatened by the overt and covert nuclearisation of our neighborhood. We do not, however believe now any more than we ever did before, that nuclear weapons are here to stay. On the contrary, if the established nuclear weapon states agree to negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons, we will be the first to join. Today I urge them as India has urged them so many times before, to join us in the Non-Aligned Movement in negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Convention, through which we can eliminate this last category of weapons of mass destruction. This Movement, in keeping with its long-standing commitment, is issuing a historic call today for safeguarding our future. Let us pledge that when we assemble at the next Summit in 2001, it will be to welcome the collective decision that nuclear weapons shall not cast their shadow into the new millennium.

14. Apprehensions have been expressed in some quarters that recent developments in South Asia raise the spectre of arms race and heightened tensions. These apprehensions are misplaced. India continues to seek good relations with all its neighbours and to work with them to build on our commonalties and shared aspirations. Differences should be resolved in a rational manner, peacefully and through bilateral negotiations. I have had a cordial meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan at Colombo and out delegations have continued the dialogue here. This is not the place to air the differences in some of our positions. The Shimla Agreement, which both India and Pakistan have ratified, provides an agreed mechanism for resolving these differences amicably among ourselves. Let me say this loud and clear: there is no place for any third party involvement in this process, howsoever well intentioned. The State of Jammu & Kashmir is, and will remain, and integral part of India. The real problem there is one of cross-border terrorism.

15. The international system in which the Movement must function remains beset with inequality an uncertainty. Ethnic conflict continues in Europe as well as other parts of the world. The Middle East Peace Process remains deadlocked. Religious fundamentalism and terrorism daily claim innocent victims in many parts of the world Protectionism, currency speculation and flight of capital have been a setback to the economies of many developing countries. Pressures on developing countries have intensified as the new architecture of the multilateral regime in trade, investment, development cooperation, environment and human rights shrinks the political space available to developing countries. The United Nations us being asked to shoulder increasing responsibilities but its financial resources rest on shaky foundations. Expansion and reform of the Security Council should be based on global and non-discriminatory criteria. NAM and developing countries are most often the objects of the Council's actions; they must have a role in decision making in the Council on the basis of equality. To meet the aspirations of its into an effective voice in international affairs. It has to regain lost ground in a changed international environment.

16. Another priority should be to set an agenda for the management of the international economy. Protectionism has returned in markets of the developed world; trade and investment are being increasingly used to promote political objectives, on labour standards, intellectual property rights, human rights and the environment. These are defences thrown up against the recent successes of some developing countries. These members of our Movement have emerged in the vanguard of international growth, but others have not only been economically marginalised by globalisation, even the stability of their societies is threatened. In either case, our voice must be heard. Instead, we have heard ad nauseam that we should trust the magic of the marketplace. We have discovered the hard way that the magic wears off fast. And in each country, the marketplace has to be run according to rules, which that country must determine as the only guardian of the well being of its people.

17. But, we are told, the global marketplace will be anarchic, subject to no control, a place of mystery where the managers of investment funds can bring down an economy, almost at whim. The lesson that we have been asked to learn from the domestic controls on financial institutions in developing countries. But there is no agenda set to being international controls or accountability to the international marketplace, or to examine the systemic flaws in the architecture of the international financial and monetary system, or the havoc it plays on all vital aspects of the economy.

18. The Movement needs to be far more active than it has so far been. The Ad hoc panel of Economists, which we set up last year, has produced a report; several important meetings have been held in recent months at the United Nations to ponder the implications of the crisis. As recent events have shown, economic crises lead to political tensions; they tear at the social fabric of our countries. The crisis, which started in East Asia, will not end there; all of us will be touched by it. We must therefore take decisions at our level to guide our actions in an uncertain world; we must set up a system through which the non-aligned can work continuously on the critical economic issues of our day. If the Non-Aligned Movement does not shape the future of the international economy through continuous attention, it is we who will suffer most from the consequences of this neglect. We must demonstrate the political will to see this through together, no matter how hard the negotiations, and we must take substantive decisions at this Summit to be better served in strengthening our analytical resources, negotiating capacity and mutually supportive action in a variety of ways, taking advantage of the substantial capabilities we have built up among ourselves.

19. The current international economic environment, characterized by shrinking Official Development Assistance flows, especially those channelised through multilateral organisations, causes serious concern. The Central role of these bodies, especially the UN, in promoting international cooperation for development, must be strengthened. Ways must be devised to make decision-making in international financial and trade institutions equitable and more responsive to our requirements. The developmental focus of their activities needs to be restored. The International Conference on Finance for Development, a long -standing demand of the Movement, will be a significant step in the attainment of these objectives. Effective participation of the members of this Movement in the preparatory process is imperative for ensuring its success.

20. The exponential increase in the capacities of our countries developed through our unremitting efforts, have not only improved the conditions of our peoples, but have opened new vistas for South-South cooperation. We must build on the existing complementarities, and also endeavour to build new ones. In the ultimate analysis, there is no alternative to self-reliance.

21. Another area which merits greater attention is Africa, which has not had the consideration this continent, deserves. The Secretary General of the United Nations produced a report a few months ago, which the Security Council looked at, but the roots of crisis can only be addressed in other forums and by other means. The Economic and Social Council will shortly be adopting a decision to focus on Africa in 1999. Our hosts have some ideas of their own; so, too, do other African States. The Movement should work with them if they think that we have something to offer to support the initiatives taken by Africans themselves. They could examine the usefulness of an international conference or a Special Session of the UN General Assembly to focus on the special needs of Africa.

22. The entire purpose of development for us is to restore to our citizens the human rights that colonialism trampled upon. These rights are still under constant threat from poverty, social backwardness, and racial and other forms of discrimination. It is therefore ironic that the Non-Aligned are sometimes seen as being defensive on human rights. Perhaps this is because we do not accept partial and self-serving approaches that ignore the international obligations and CO-operation that are necessary for their full enjoyment, in particular for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. In this the fiftieth year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is important that the Movement work for a deeper understanding of the relationship between democracy, development human rights and international cooperation.

23. The scourge of terrorism is spreading its tentacles and knows no frontiers, A month ago innocent lives were lost in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in violence of the utmost malignancy. Those acts of terrorism made the headlines, but several of our countries are no strangers to lives lost daily to terrorist outrages, with the rest of the world either silent or indifferent, unable to agree, for reasons of political convenience or worse, on a definition of terrorism which ought to be a straightforward matter. Some, with myopic loftiness, are far too willing to judge democracies on the same scale on which they place the terrorists who batten on open societies. Terrorism is a plain, naked assault on humanity and the values that civilized societies live by. If we honour Gandhi's legacy and Madiba's example, the Non-Aligned must reject the false claim of moral equivalence. Evil cannot be equated with good: there is a just fight against adharma, against evil, that must be fought. This cannot be done by unilateral or selective action. It calls for concerted international effort. The time has come for an international conference to discuss and agree on measures to combat and defeat this menace through collective action.

24. Let us not waste our time squabbling over the fine print in the Final Document. Poverty us real, discrimination is real, violence is real; these are the realities that claim he lives of our citizens. The Movement must grapple with these realities, and not be content with sterile debate over definitions. Collective action for common good was what the Non-Aligned Movement was created for. Under your Chairmanship, Excellency, that is what we must do.

25. We hope the Durban Summit will be the beginning of an African renaissance, to which the NAM would have contributed and which will strengthen the Movement.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman

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