‘We will continue to keep the spotlight on terrorism’: Indian Ambassador TS Tirumurti

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August 03, 2021 11:32 AM

India, currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2021-22, assumed the rotating Presidency of the powerful UN organ for the month of August.

T S TirumurtiOn maritime security, Tirumurti said India feels it is time that various dimensions of maritime security and crime were discussed in a holistic manner and addressed through international cooperation. (Screengrab Twitter/@ambtstirumurti)

India will keep the spotlight on terrorism, New Delhi’s Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the Security Council this month Ambassador T S Tirumurti has said, emphasising that terror financing and increased use of sophisticated methods by terrorists to attack are causing a ”great deal of concern.” India, currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2021-22, assumed the rotating Presidency of the powerful UN organ for the month of August.

Briefing reporters at the UN Headquarters on the Council’s Programme of Work on Monday, Tirumurti said India will host signature events on maritime security, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a virtual high-level open debate on maritime security on August 9. President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is also African Union President, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo will participate in the event, given the importance that the topic of maritime security has for Africa.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will chair an open debate on August 18 on technology and peacekeeping under the overarching theme of ‘Protecting the Protectors’. He will also chair a high-level event on August 19 to discuss UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report on ISIS.

In response to a question by PTI on whether the Secretary General’s report on ISIS should also cover banned terror outfits like Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tirumurti said the very fact that India is having a signature event on counterterrorism is a ‘very clear indication’ that ”we want to keep the spotlight on terrorism.” ”And this is on all aspects of terrorism. It is not just about cross-border terrorism,” he said, adding that terrorists now using very sophisticated means and technology to attack and financing of terrorism is ”causing a great deal of concern.” ”Our intention is to keep the spotlight on counterterrorism And ISIL has its reach all over the world,” he said.

Noting that increase in terrorism in Africa is of concern to all Security Council members, Tirumurti stressed that: ”I’ve said very clearly that you only ignore it at your own peril.”’ ”There are proscribed terrorists who have linkages. As long as these linkages exist, it is important for the Secretary General’s report to be a comprehensive one, which covers these linkages,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Tirumurti said counterterrorism was a national priority for India. ”We are firmly against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and believe that there could be no justification whatsoever for terrorism. We will continue to keep the spotlight on this matter, as we have in the past, both inside the Council and outside as well. ”We have not only strengthened efforts to combat terrorism, especially for example, in the financing of terrorism. We have also prevented efforts to dilute the focus on terrorism,” he said.

On maritime security, Tirumurti said India feels it is time that various dimensions of maritime security and crime were discussed in a holistic manner and addressed through international cooperation. He said issues such as piracy, use of the sea to conduct crimes, illicit trafficking in narcotic and psychotropic substances, trafficking in persons and illicit firearms and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing have implications for the livelihood and security of coastal communities, international trade, energy security and the global economy. ”Safeguarding the legitimate uses of the oceans and the lives of the people at sea requires a comprehensive approach that ensures our common prosperity and security while countering the threat of hostile or illegal acts within the maritime domain,” he said.

The open debate on maritime security will ”seek answers from member states to questions such as what could be done to address the drivers of maritime crime and insecurity, how could member states enhance their capabilities and improve operational coordination to access maritime security-related threats and how to advance the implementation through international cooperation,” he said.

Tirumurti emphasised that the objective of the high level-debate is to make a case for equal access for all nations to the use of global commons so that sea lanes are rendered as pathways to mutual prosperity and corridors of peace. In response to a question on the view of the Council’s permanent members on maritime security, he said the issue as a holistic concept was being discussed for the first time in the UN body. “This is something which I have received support from every member of the Security Council,” he said, adding that the engagement is not aimed at any one member or the other of the Council. ”We may have different views on what maritime security means for us, but I don’t think anyone says that it is not important,”Tirumurti said. India will also host a signature event on peacekeeping, an ‘issue which is very close to our hearts’ as India is proud of its long and rich tradition of contribution to UN peacekeeping operations, including the involvement of women peacekeepers, he said. “Considering the fact that peacekeepers continue to function in volatile and complex situations to implement the Security Council mandates, we will be strongly advocating for enhanced measures to ensure the safety and security of the ‘protectors of peace’,” he said.

India will focus on two specific aspects pertaining to peacekeeping – how to ensure safety of peacekeepers by use of technology and to bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers. ”We believe that infusion of appropriate technology can play a significant role in improving the safety and security of peacekeepers. Use of field focus, reliable and cost-effective new technologies in peacekeeping operations that are driven by practical needs of end users on the ground are the need of the hour,” he said.

Tirumurti said India was looking at discussing with other Council members a stronger framework that addresses impunity against peacekeepers and is looking at adopting a resolution on this issue. He noted that according to UN statistics, from 2013 onwards the conviction rate is “alarmingly low? of people who have committed crimes against peacekeepers.

”It is a matter of irony that peacekeepers are mainly in conflict situations and in fragile states and it is difficult for us to expect the same state to also have a strong legal framework to convict the people who commit crimes. So, it is important for us to look at it in a manner in which we are reaching out to these countries and give them the necessary wherewithal, necessary framework as well as necessary funds and the capacity building to address this,” he said.

On whether there will be any outcome documents following the three signature events, Tirumurti said at this point, India is discussing this with the other Council members. ”We are looking at the outcome documents. Let’s see whether we can get that,” he said.

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