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Statement by Shri Navtej Sarna, Special Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and leader of the Indian delegation at the 17th Ministerial Conference of Non-Aligned Movement

May 29, 2014

Mr. President
Excellencies
Ladies & Gentlemen

We are delighted to be here in this beautiful city of Algiers. We thank our host, the Hon. Foreign Minister of Algeria for organizing this Ministerial meeting at an important juncture in our Movement’s history and for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I would also like to place on record our appreciation for the manner in which the Islamic Republic of Iran has been discharging its duties as Chair of the Movement.

Mr. President, we have just completed the largest democratic exercise ever conducted in history. An electorate of more than 800 million registered voters voted in 920,000 polling stations through nearly 2 million electronic voting machines to choose candidates from over 300 political parties in India’s 16th General Elections. Our new Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi, who was elected with a strong and historic mandate, was sworn in just three days ago along with key members of the Cabinet. For this reason our External Affairs Minister H.E. Mrs. Sushma Swaraj was unable to travel personally to Algiers, but she sends her warm greetings to all members of this great Movement of which India is proud to be a founding member.

The founding principles of the Non-Aligned Movement are just as relevant today as they were half a century ago. While the forces of imperialism and colonialism may have been defeated, the world continues to be divided by those who wish to dominate. It is, therefore, important that we come together to reaffirm our commitment to the founding purposes and principles of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The Non-Aligned Movement continues to create political space for its members to consider the issues of the day on merit and not from the narrow prism of predefined positions or alignments. We have already succeeded in enshrining the Movement's core principles - that of non-use of force, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and security of all states - as the basis for inter-state relations and international cooperation.The efforts of the Movement must now be directed towards addressing the remaining and new political challenges as well as addressing the economic and social issues facing developing states. Hence, the theme of our meeting today - "Enhanced Cooperation for Peace and Security" is very apt.

Mr. President,
The world has changed in fundamental ways since the inception of the Non-Aligned Movement.Our institutions of global governance, however, remain cast in the mould of a world that existed nearly 70 years ago.Nowhere is this most visible and more troubling than in the UN Security Council. As the body mandated with the primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security, it is critical that it be representative of today's realties. The process of Security Council reform would, however, be completely meaningless if the developing world continues to remain marginalized in its structure. The Council's actions are primarily focused on developing countries. It is also there that the manifold impact of its actions are felt. It is, therefore, important for more developing countries to be included in the membership, in both permanent and non-permanent categories. Those who enjoyed pre-eminence and controlled our destinies in another era want to preserve the status quo. It will, therefore, be for us in the Movement to force the change we want and collectively seek concrete outcomes by the 70thanniversary summit of the United Nations in September 2015.

Mr. President,
While we can take pride in our success in rolling back colonialism and dismantling apartheid, we are also cognizant that the struggle of our brothers and sisters of Palestine has been long, arduous and painful. As a member of the UN Security Council during 2011-12, India had supported Palestine's bid for full and equal membership of the United Nations. It was during India’s Presidency of the Security Council that we co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution adopted in November 2012 that upgraded the status of Palestine to that of a non-member Observer State. Our struggle will, however, continue till we find a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent and viable united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in secure and recognized borders, side by side and at peace with its neighbours.

Mr. President,
The conflict in Syria has raged far too long and threatens the stability and security of the region itself. India believes that there can be no military solution to the conflict. We fully support a Syrian led inclusive political dialogue that resolves the current crisis and meets the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society.We deeply regret the stalemate in the political process and urge all parties to resolve their differences and return to direct talks with political commitment.

Mr. President,
A continuing challenge that should be underscored is that of terrorism. My country is among those who have suffered the most from this scourge. Terrorism undermines peace, democracy and freedom. There is hardly any region of the world that has not been scarred by the asymmetric warfare waged by terrorists. We need to recognize that terrorism is one of the biggest threats to international peace and security and develop instruments to deal effectively with it.

No cause or grievance can justify terrorism. It needs to be countered, prosecuted and penalized. We call for the early finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and seek the support of the members of the Non Aligned Movement for realizing this objective.

Mr. President,
There can be no durable peace without economic and social development. The Post-2015 Development Agenda provides a useful opportunity for us to bring to bear our collective strength to end the scourge of poverty and deprivation and set the world on a more sustainable path. The overriding priority must be poverty eradication. The agenda that we will define must respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

India stands willing to contribute to the imperative of economic and social development through South-South Cooperation. Our development partnership is based on needs identified by partner countries and is firmly rooted in the principle of national ownership. It is a concrete manifestation of our spirit of solidarity with other countries of the South. In this context, I must make a special mention of our partnership with Africa.It is a relationship which is unique and has its origins in our common struggle against colonialism and apartheid.We look forward to hosting the third India-Africa Forum Summit in India later this year and of partnering with Africa in the new growth story that is emerging from the continent.

Mr. President,
I take this opportunity to express our deep and traditional bonds of fraternity with the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). India has long partnered the development efforts of the SIDS by sharing its experience and expertise, as well as intellectual and technological resources. India looks forward to working closely with all our SIDS partners in making the Third International Conference on SIDS in Samoa a great success. In line with our historical bonds of friendship with the SIDS, the Government of India has contributed US$ 250,000 for the organization of this Conference.

Mr. President,
In conclusion, let me reiterate our firm belief that the Non-Aligned Movement is most important in our quest for establishing a peaceful and prosperous world and a just and equitable world order. We thank you for hosting this meeting which will allow us to harness our joint efforts towards the achievement of this endeavor.

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