India issuing Demarche to China does not mean much under UN framework, says former diplomat Mukerji

By Mayank Singh
New Delhi [India], Feb.10 (ANI):Former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji, has said that New Delhi's recent decision to issue a Demarche to China with regard to its position on stalling the declaration of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar as a terrorist does not mean much if India is operating in the framework of the United Nations (UN).
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Ambassador Mukerji said, "If we are operating in the framework of the UN, the demarche does not mean much, because it is something for China to look at. As I said, we are not sitting in the SC (Security Council) so we cannot make the demarche to china in the SC, it doesn't have any traction. If it is a bilateral demarche, this is something we are dealing in the bilateral framework, which is outside the UN system. I believe that unless we have a platform for robust bilateral cooperation on multilateral issues with China, this kind of demarche will not really have much traction. We have one with the US. For example, a joint group on UN and multilateral issues. So, if we have a similar joint group with China then the demarche can have some prospect of having an impact on China."
Ambassador Mukerji further said that the initiative to put Masood Azhar on the UN Sanctions Committee list is normally taken by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
"The members of the sanctions committee are the five permanent members of the Security Council (SC) and ten elected members. India was not in the SC, we were a non-permanent member in 2012. As we do not sit in the committee or in the council, so we depend on other members of the Security Council to keep us informed on what happened to our request to put Masood Azhar on the sanction list," he said.
"It appears from the sources that the proposal was pushed by three permanent members — according to the media — US, UK and France — to support the Indian request to put Masood Azhar on the sanction list. Inside the committee they work by consensus. So, it is not clear, nor is it possible to understand whether there was any voting or what was the result of the vote. Part of the reason, we want to reform the UNSC is because they have such non-transparent procedures that the outside world does not know what happens inside the closed room," he added.
"We are told that this proposal did not get consensus because one member of the SC put a block on it, which means that it did not have consensus, and therefore, this request was not moved forward. Faced with a situation like this, these kinds of things do happen in international affairs and we must look at the past practice of the UNSC. I will recall that in 2006, the U S had moved a proposal in the same sanctions committee to put four nationals of Sudanese origin in the sanction list. At that time two or more members of the committee had expressed their inability to agree and blocked the proposal. What the U S did in 2006 was to table a resolution in the SC itself. The difference between what happened in the committee and in the Security Council is that in the committee nothing is put in the public domain. That is their working procedure. No one knows what they look like what they do where they sit etc but the SC is a chamber known to the world at large, it is highly photographed and a resolution which is tabled is circulated and other member states of the UN are able to see a draft of the text of the resolution. So it's a piece of paper. In 2006 when the US moved the resolution to place these people on the sanctions list the request that the US made was for a vote, and a vote in the SC is always a public vote so therefore on that resolution the countries which did not agree in the committee were forced to express their opinion in the public and both of them abstained so the US was able to secure the resolution and put those people it wanted on the sanctions list. I think that is the lesson of history that we need to remember today which is why India must become a permanent member of the SC," Ambassador Mukherji said.
He also said that India is among the countries asking for early reform of the SC in order to make it more transparent, more representative.
"For example, from Asia, there is only one permanent member, and yet, we are 54 countries in Asia. From Africa, there are 54 countries, no permanent members. So, atleast these two continents need to have more representation permanently in the SC. So that is a part of our effort. There is no accountability of the SC, it is not accountable for anything it does or does not do and that is why we need to reform it to make it more democratically accountable," he said.
"Until the reform of the SC takes place the only other platform we have is the legal platform of the UN. The legal platform operates through its sixth committee of the General Assembly (GA) which is the legal committee and India has been active in that sixth committee right from the very beginning. One of our first ambassadors to the UN was Sir Benegal Rau who was the legal advisor to the constituent assembly and Baba Saheb Ambedkar has recognized his role in the debate in parliament and how he contributed to the framing of the Indian constitution. So, in the sixth committee, India tabled a draft resolution for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in 1996 after listening to the debate in the GA (General Assembly) where all the views of different countries were expressed. The Indian draft was discussed, amended and right now the chairman of the group who is the ambassador of Sri Lanka, Ambassador Rohan Perera, he has tabled a chairman's draft for adoption by the sixth committee and the GA," said Ambassador Mukerji.
"The core issue of the legal campaign by India is the principle of prosecute or extradite. It's a well established legal principle that if you have a person against whom prosecution is required and rule of law is to be applied then you have to prosecute that person and if you do not want to prosecute that person then you have to extradite that person to another jurisdiction where the prosecution can take place. Most recently, in July last year this principle was applied for a head of state in Africa Hissene Habre," he added.
"The International Court of Justice requested the African union to set up a court in Senegal because Mr. Habre had sought exile in Senegal and the Government of Senegal and the African union set up a hybrid court which implemented the International Court of Justice's ruling to try president Hissene Habre and they tried him and they convicted in July last year so the principle of prosecute or extradite has been well established in law. The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism tries to get the same principle into International law. The comprehensive convention now faces a moment of decision. The chairman of the group that has formed the draft of the convention has broken it into two parts – One part is a purely legal part which puts the obligation of prosecute or extradite on the member states of the UN and that is the part that India is very keen to establish as a core international legal principle. For example if there is a person whom we are attempting to prosecute for the Mumbai 2008 terror attack and he is now in Pak then either Pak has to try that person or extradite that person. That is the principle and that is the obligation that Pak will have to take when the convention is accepted. There are other arguments about the politics of terrorism and the draft proposes that those be put into a resolution and for the GA to take," he said.
On what was required to reform the United nations and the U N Security Council, he said, "From the days when the proposal started to today the world has changed a lot but the fact that the SC needs to become more transparent, more accountable and more representative… So in the 70th anniversary of the UN more than 100 heads of state and government called for the reform to be done quickly. The question is why. The answer to that lies in the fact that today more than 65 million people across four continents of the world have been displaced by wars and conflict. These wars and conflicts have not been prevented by the SC whose primary responsibility under Article 24 of the UN chapter is to maintain international peace and security. The reason the SC has been ineffective is because it is not representative." (ANI)

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