India played a seminal role in the Paris Climate Change deal coming into force in 2016, a landmark pact that will help define the legacy of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who handed over the baton to his successor Antonio Guterres as the raging conflicts in the Arab world, the refugee crisis and the unabated threat of terrorism posed significant challenges for the world body.
The year will go down in history as the historic moment when the long-pending Paris Climate Agreement finally came to fruition after Ban, in his final of year at the helm of the world body, mobilised nations to ratify the agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
India, which accounts for 4.1 per cent of the world emissions, ratified the Paris deal on October 2 – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi – a move that allowed the pact to enter into force on November 4.
The Paris climate agreement will go down in history as one of the hallmarks of the legacy of Ban, whose 10-year tenure as the world’s top diplomat ends on December 31.
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His successor Guterres, the former Portuguese premier and UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, was named to the top job after an unprecedented election cycle.
Guterres was appointed by the UN General Assembly in what was the culmination of a historic process Member States set in motion last year: the selection of a new UN Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful nations, for the first time in history, involved public discussions with each candidate vying for the top position.
There was also a strong call by member states and civil society organisations to elect a woman, since no female has held the top position in the world body’s 71-year history.
India was among the only handful of countries that Guterres had visited in the months before the polls, meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.
“While we were not there in the Security Council, he understood and appreciated the role that we play in matters relating to the UN. Even in that change process, the Secretary General-designate, even before he was elected, had an awareness and an understanding of Indian position and its importance,” India’s envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said.
Akbaruddin said the fact that India is “supportive” of him was “very clear” that is why he went to the country before the elections to select the new secretary general.
Earlier this month, Guterres had voiced appreciation for India’s engagement with the world body and its contributions to various areas of the UN’s work during a meeting with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who had called on him soon after his swearing-in as the 9th Secretary General of the UN.
“The Secretary General-designate appreciated India’s engagement with the UN and contributions to various areas of the UN’s work,” a spokesperson of India’s Permanent Mission to the UN had said.