By Aarti Tikoo Singh
New Delhi– India on Tuesday, at the BRICS foreign ministers web summit amid the coronavirus pandemic, called for reform of multilateral systems and reiterated its support for multilateralism.
Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar said the current challenge posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic, “underlines all the more the need for reform of multilateral systems and that reformed multilateralism was the way forward.”
Though the former diplomat Jaishankar did not mention any names, the World Health Organization, the United Nations and other international organizations have drawn severe criticism over their failure to make timely intervention to check the spread of the contagious Covid-19 disease. There is a growing demand in democratic countries for structural reform in global bodies.
Since most countries have imposed lockdown to prevent the contagion, there has been an increasing anxiety about the possibility of breakdown of existing multilateralism and international cooperation and revival of protectionist measures.
Jaishankar during the summit stressed the centrality of development and growth in the global agenda, an official statement said.
India extended its strong support for Russia’s chairmanship of BRICS (group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) this year and its agenda of partnership for global stability, shared security and innovative growth.
Pointing out that the coronavirus pandemic is not only posing a great risk to the health and well-being of humanity, Jaishankar said it is also severely impacting global economy and output by disruption of global trade and supply chains. Economic activity across sectors has been negatively impacted leading to loss of jobs and livelihoods, he said.
The minister said that it was essential to support businesses, especially MSMEs, to tide over the crisis and ensure livelihoods are not lost.
Noting that BRICS brings together almost 42 per cent of world population, with impressive growth, investment and trade share, Jaishankar said, it has an important role to play in shaping the global economic and political architecture.
Jaishankar apprised the BRICS foreign ministers about the initiative to coordinate efforts to contain COVID-19 in South Asia, and creation of COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund by the SAARC countries.
India, he informed the BRICS summit, is providing pharma assistance to nearly 85 nations, including many countries in Africa, on a grant basis, to support their response to the pandemic. “This has been widely welcomed,” he said.
The Foreign Minister said the efficacy of traditional medicine systems to strengthen immunity should be recognized and that BRICS should support these efforts.
A virtual meeting of BRICS health officials on COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled for May 7 to take the discussion forward in a focussed and purposeful manner. (IANS)