BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN
New York– Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned the mirror towards the United Nations and urged it to take a hard look at its “crisis of confidence”, ratcheted up the call for a new template of multilateralism that “reflects today’s reality” and wrapped up a lightning-quick speech on Day One at the United Nations high-level week being live-streamed to the world from the UN headquarters in New York City.
“The UN faces a crisis of confidence. For today’s interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s reality, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges, and focuses on human welfare”, Modi said.
Modi’s recorded speech was played at around 5.30 pm EST (3 a.m. IST). The Indian PM’s speech was prefaced by a welcome note from TS Tirumurti, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
Modi’s remarks came on a day when the United Nations General Assembly committed itself to put “new life” into the stalled reform of the Security Council in its Declaration for the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations on Monday.
The United Nations marked its 75th anniversary in June this year at a scaled-down event because the coronavirus was already raging by then. About 50 countries signed on to the U.N. Charter in San Francisco on June 26, 1945.
Dressed in his trademark kurta and a leaf green vest with tiny checks, Modi stood beside the Indian tricolour and delivered his recorded remarks.
Modi came in at number 104 in a line of more than 180 other country leaders who are turning up in set-piece frames and set to deliver more than 700 minutes of content on a single video loop for an ambient global audience.
The combination of telecom connectivity and teleprompters ensured that the virtual version of the UNGA got off to a smooth start, free of the unscripted moments that neither exposed conflicts nor gave leaders the chance to offer the counter view.
Framed against set-piece backdrops mostly highlighting country flags and sometimes a light touch of ornate interiors or soft focus, world leaders re-purposed their pet UNGA pitch while embracing the new format. Xi Jinping appeared in front of the Great Wall of China in the backdrop.
With the symbolism of the UNGA all but gone, leaders attempted to capture some of it in their visual framing.
The UNGA high-level week kicked off less than 24 hours after a new flashpoint erupted between the United States and the UN over Iran sanctions.
US President Donald Trump was first on the speaker list for Monday but stayed away, in a snub to the United Nations which stands as a metaphor for multilateralism in the heart of Trump’s home ground New York City.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the United Nations will not support sanctions on Iran based on United States’ demands until he gets green light from the Security Council.
The Trump administration has declared repeatedly since Saturday that all UN sanctions against Iran have been restored, a move that will undoubtedly stir controversy during the UN’s annual high-level meetings this week. (IANS)