India abstains UNGA resolution

Prelims level : International Policies & Schemes Mains level : GS-II India and its neighbourhood- relations.
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Why in News?

  • India abstained from the UNGA resolution calling for reparation to be paid to Ukraine by Russia.

About the News:

  • Reparations are the act or process of making amends for a wrong through compensatory funding or other means.
  • India has doubted whether a reparation process through a vote in the General Assembly would contribute to efforts at a resolution of the conflict and cautioned against precedents being set through such resolutions. 
  • Moreover, the legal validity of such a process by a General Assembly resolution remains unclear.

India’s position on Ukraine:

  • India’s position adds to a string of abstentions at the United Nations and multilateral groups since the start of Russian military operations in Ukraine on February 24, even as the continuing Russian military advances in Ukraine have seen more and more countries vote for resolutions that criticise Moscow.

About UNGA:

  • The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN.
  • All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.
  • The President of the General Assembly is elected each year by assembly to serve a one-year term of office.
  • The presidency rotates annually between the five geographic groups: African, Asia-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European and other States.

How are the decisions taken?

  • Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly.
  • Decisions on other questions are by simple majority.
  • The Assembly has no binding votes or veto powers like the UN Security Council.

According to the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly may:

  • Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial assessments of Member States.
  • Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other United Nations councils and organs and, on the recommendation of the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General.
  • Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of cooperation for maintaining international peace and security, including disarmament.
  • Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and, except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security Council, make recommendations on it.

What’s the concern now?

  • The Indian decision to abstain from the voting was not siding with anyone; it was in its own national interest, say few.
  • However, these decisions have been condoned by most Indian commentators as an attempt to make the best of a bad hand.
  • As our largest arms supplier, Russia has been a dependable ally, they say; it has shielded India at the UN over Kashmir, not to mention Bangladesh, back in 1971.
  • Moreover, to vote against Russia will push it further into China’s arms, multiplying that country’s security threat to India.

Why should India rethink its policy on Russia?

  • The above arguments have been out of date since the end of the Cold War three decades ago, and Vladimir Putin’s rise 20 years ago.
  • More dangerously still, they reveal a fatalism towards India’s own national security interests that will only damage us further as time goes by.
  • Yes, Russia is our largest arms provider and our supplies will be hit if we vote against it. But no, Russia is not a reliable arms provider; it has not been one since Putin came to power.
  • Arms supplies are frequently long-delayed, and Putin had used the delays to up the prices, sometimes even double them. By contrast, the French deliveries of the Rafael jets have been comparatively speedy.
  • Far from helping us, Putin has turned a blind eye to China’s many acts of aggression against India.
  • It was Russia that kept us out of Afghan peace negotiations in the very recent past.
  • Russia did little to help us when China raised Kashmir at the UNSC in 2019 and 2020. 
  • It was the US and European countries that helped then – going against their own human rights principles.
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