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Inaugural Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi at the 60th Annual Session of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO)

September 27, 2022

Dr. Kamalinne Pinitpuvadol, Secretary General of AALCO
Ms. Ma Jia, On behalf of the President of 59th Annual Session of AALCO
Hon. Geophrey Mizengo Pinda, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, the United Republic of Tanzania on behalf of the President of the 58th Annual Session of AALCO
Hon’ble Ministers, Attorneys General, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the AALCO Secretariat for inviting me as the Chief Guest for this function. I am greatly honored to address this august gathering of the 60th Session of AALCO.

India was not only the founding member, but we also host the Headquarter of AALCO, which goes to showcase our commitment to law making and rule of law, both domestically and internationally. It is that commitment which allows us not only to participate but also to make progress in law making exercise and AALCO being one of such institutions.

AALCO is one of the international bodies which started initially as an Asian forum and then Africa joined it. All I can say is that when I look around most of us are developing countries and all developing countries have their own aspirations to deal with. These aspirations mean to take care of our own people while engaging with the world and making world a better place to live for everyone. That is the kind of commitment AALCO represents and as mentioned by earlier speakers that it all started in Bandung in Indonesia. Spirit of Bandung is the guiding principle for all of us to engage and work together.

In today's time and age, the same spirit can also be enshrined by the words of honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi when he says ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas aur Sab ka Vishwas’. ‘Sab ka Saath’ means everyone has to work together, ‘Sab ka Vikas’ everyone has to progress together and ‘Sab ka Vishwas’ with everyone’s trust. This governance model coupled with a growing economy and vibrant democracy have helped India in meeting the contemporary international and domestic challenges and aspire for a better future.

As far as India's concern, our commitment to law, both domestic and international, is for everyone to see. Article 51 of Indian constitution, specifically mentions about India's commitment to international law. According to that, all the treaties and conventions where India is a signatory need to be respected as per our domestic law and we are integrating all those principles into domestic Law. India believes in peaceful settlement of disputes in consonance with the principle in Article 2(3) of the UN Charter and Article 51 (d) of the Indian Constitution. India is also committed to Rule of Law at international and national level.

Therefore, whether it is UN conventions in various forms; or law against domestic violence, law against sexual harassment at work place, refugees, law of the sea, law of peaceful negotiations, trade and commerce, India is not just a signatory but an active participant in all those forums.

I feel that AALCO is one forum, which needs to up its game. Historically, we have participated in great deal and we have done some remarkable work, whether it was law of treaties or law of the seas. I believe AALCO should also be discussing challenges which developing countries are facing. e.g. when it comes to international trade and commerce, what should be the regulations? I feel that is a weaker link, which needs to be strengthened, and we need greater work on that aspect. Climate change and sustainability, or climate finance. Each of our countries impacted by these issues and I feel a lot more needs to be done on those aspects.

I must add that, when I read about Vienna Conventions and other treaties. I wish the ancient texts of India are studied again because these conventions, which the modern world is familiarizing itself, existed as part of our history and we believed in those rules. Rule even at the time of wars, how do you deal with an opponent? Why women and children should not be attacked? All this existed in our ancient texts and I just hope that someone gets into that research and showcases what the humanity has known all through the history, but got lost.

AALCO can become a forum, which actually shows the way to the world as to how multilateral engagements have to happen. My best wishes to each one of you who have found time to engage at this forum and special compliments to the Secretary General, who is very passionate about the subject and puts all his efforts to show to bring us all together and take the work forward. I declare the 60th session of AALCO open and you may please enjoy the hospitality of Delhi. It a historical city which has been there for several centuries, there are many historical places to visit and you will find multitude of people, it is a truly International City.

On behalf of India and on behalf of my Government, I welcome you all. Please enjoy the city and the forum.

Thank you very much!

Jai Hind!

New Delhi
September 26, 2022

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