UN defends itself against Modi's charge of 'irrelevance'

| Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 11:03
First Published |
Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon did not address the failure to define terrorism | Photo: IANS

United Nations: Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's warning that the world body is at risk of becoming "irrelevant" because of its failure to deal with terrorism, a spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon mounted a defence asserting that the world body was taking a "responsible attitude" to deal with it.
Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said Tuesday, "The UN encourages international solidarity against terrorism in all its aspects, whether it is terrorist bombings or terrorist financing."
Replying at the daily briefing to a reporter's question about Modi's criticsm last week in Brussels about UN ineffectual response to the problem, he said, "We certainly are trying to take a responsible attitude in terms of dealing with terrorism and the spectre of terrorism worldwide."
In a speech to the Indian diaspora in Brussels last Wednesday, Modi ridiculed the UN's inablity to even define terrorism and said, "I don't know when this will happen but the way situations are changing, it won't be too late when this organisation will become irrelevant."
Haq referred to the Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism that the UN is holding on Thursday and Friday in cooperation with the Swiss government and said, "The Secretary-General will be speaking at that - in terms of the specific measures that we've been talking about, in terms of handling violent extremism and its spread throughout the world."
He did not address the failure to define terrorism, which was the core of Modi's criticism, or the inability to deal with terrorist masterminds.
The UN has not been able to take action against terrorists because of a virtual veto power by China, a permanent member of the Security Council. Just last week, Beijing came to the aid of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar who masterminded the attack on the Pathankot air force base and prevented a sanctions committee from taking action against him. This was despite all the other committee members backing sanctions against him.
Last June, China prevented action against Pakistan for for setting free Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed.
"The United Nations knows everything about a war and how to stop it. But if you ask about terrorism, even the UN doesn't know. The world body of such a grand stature has failed to perform its responsibility," Modi said in Brussels.
(Also Read: United Nations Security Council under China's rotating presidency to take up Middle East issues)
The UN is unable to respond to India's repeated requests to define "who a terrorist is and which country is a terrorist nation," he added.
Modi was referring to the 20-year deadlock over the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism because of differences over defining terrorism. Some countries want exemption made for groups they consider to be "national liberation movements" instead of terrorist organisations, and terrorists they consider to be "freedom fighters."
"Terrorism is terrorism" and there should be no such things as "good terrorism and bad terrorism," Modi said more directly about the issue in San Jose last September.
(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

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