Sushma Swaraj pitches for expansion of UNSC

New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday strongly pitched for reforms in the United Nations Security Council and pointed out that neither India with nearly a sixth of the world’s population nor the largest continent Africa in terms of number of countries were on board.

She said the United Nations continued to be a “representative of the world order of 1945”.

“A major issue is that of UN Security Council reforms. The Security Council continues to be representative of a world order of 1945. It is inconceivable that the Security Council today does not have any permanent representation from Africa, which is the largest continent (in terms of number of countries),” Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the third India-Africa Editors’ Forum meeting here.

She said it was also incomprehensible that India, which represents almost one-sixth of the world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, was still out of it.

“We all need to work together to remove this anomaly and the media has an important role in this,” she said.

The minister said the world will witness a culmination of global discourse in two other critical areas – climate change and world trade – in the form of COP 21 or Conference of Parties on Climate Change in Paris and the 10th World Trade Organisation ministerial meet in Kenya.

“In both these meetings also, India and Africa and other developing countries will have to work hand in hand to ensure that our development agenda is not affected,” Sushma Swaraj said.

She said the third edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit, to begin here on Monday, was an epoch-making engagement in the journey of strengthening South-South cooperation to promote world peace and prosperity, while accounting for Africa’s own aspirations for growth of pan-African institutions.

“Over the next four days, at the highest political levels, we will endeavour not just to give a new thrust to our age-old partnership but also to develop a new paradigm of cooperation focusing on key areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, energy, innovation and health,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj said that the exercise of strengthening relations between African and Indian news media must be placed on the bedrock of grass-roots empowerment.

“We need new initiatives in the information, communication, media and entertainment sectors. These initiatives should be able to unleash the voices of two of the youngest regions in the world – India and Africa – and harness the power of digital, social and new media platforms to bring about a renaissance of new ideas,” she said.

The minister said that the pan-Africa e-network can be used to host an Africa-India Media Portal and an experts data base of journalists.

“Let me emphasise that our basic approach to our relations in Africa has been one of maximising mutual benefit. We have sought to complement our needs with each other’s strengths,” she said.

She said 2015 has been a historic year for pushing forward South-South cooperation.

“We celebrated the 60th anniversary of Asian-African Conference and the 10th anniversary of the new Asian-African strategic partnership at Bandung (in Indonesia). We worked together in the finalisation of the post-2015 Development Agenda,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj, who earlier inaugurated the India-Africa Friendship Park here, said that saplings of “eternal friendship and mutual cooperation” would have to be nurtured in an environment of mutual understanding.

She said 2015 marked the centenary of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India, who many say was probably the greatest journalist of his time.

She said the first paper was launched in South Africa, where he took over the editorship of ‘Indian Opinion’ in 1904 and published it in English, Tamil and Gujarati.

“Gandhi-ji looked upon journalism as a means to serve the people,” Sushma Swaraj said.

The minister said it was one’s duty to investigate and analyse underlying agendas even as one reports the facts.

“Even as we report conflict and crisis situations, we have the responsibility to avoid looking at each other through a prism of stereotypes perpetuated by biased reports.”

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