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UNSC reform text should represent universal views: India



Syed akbaruddin
India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin (File Photo)

United Nations, Feb 2: India has said that the various options and differing views of nations on Security Council reform should be presented in a negotiating text and no one should insist that their submissions must take precedence over others.

“The first principle of multilateralism is equality,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Inter-Governmental Negotiaions (IGN) on Council reforms.

The IGN’s two-day session began on Thursday. “What we are suggesting is equal opportunities for everybody to present their options in a document,” Akbaruddin said.

No one can “ask that my submission of principles should be discussed first and then only rest follows,” he said.

“Opposition to a certain position is normal and indeed democratic,” Akbaruddin said. But “opposition to normalising the process (of negotiating) is not.

“Allowing drift in terms of normalising the process endangers the legitimacy and credibility of this mechanism and the General Assembly itself.”

The IGN process has been stuck for at least a decade at the preliminary step of trying to come up with a negotiating text that would be the basis for discussions.

The principle opposition to the adoption of a negotiating text comes from a group of countries known as Uniting for Consensus, which is led by Italy and includes Pakistan.

They contend that unless there is consensus on reforms, there cannot be negotiating text.

A negotiating “document will provide clarity to where we stand, what are the options, who is proposing what and what are the inter-linkages,” Akbaruddin.

“Documenting positions in a holistic and transparent manner is what we seek from you as the way forward.”

The current IGN co-chairs, Permanent Representatives Lana Zaki Nusseibeh of the UAE and Kaha Imnadze of Georgia, would achieve a breakthrough if they could produce such a document, which their predecessors have failed to do.

Akbaruddin said they should produce an “inclusive and holistic document for our transparent consideration so that we can involve in negotiations on it”.

“It is not our case that the document that you prepare needs to have only one option,” he said. “It can have, in every cluster, every option that can be distilled.”

Akbaruddin said that there was consensus on the need for reform but it has not translated into action because of the lack of a rolling document that records the views expressed in each of the sessions and carries them on as the basis for negotiations.

The Framework document produced by Courtenay Rattray, who was the IGN chair during 2014-15, was believed by many to have the potential to be the negotiating text. But after he left the position, the momentum was lost.

The co-chairs, Khalid Khiari and Ion Jinga, prepared a paper listing the commonalities and issues for further consideration for reform, Akbaruddin said.

Its shortcomings in not adequately reflecting the views of the African nations can be rectified, he said.

“The document that you present needs to reflect principles that some delegation or the other find important to reflect as an option for others to consider,” he told the current co-chairs.



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Pakistani PM Imran Khan writes to Facebook CEO seeking ban on Islamophobic content



Imran Khan Pakistan PM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content on the site, warning of an increase in radicalisisation amongst Muslims, the government said on Sunday.

In the letter, shared by the Pakistani government on Twitter, Imran Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” is encouraging extremism and violence across the world — especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.

“I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said.

Facebook said this month it was updating its hate speech policy to ban any content that denied or distorted the Holocaust.

Facebook did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment on Khan’s letter.

“One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said, adding that this was “reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalisation”.

Khan in his letter made reference to the situation in France, where, he said, Islam was being associated with terrorism.

Earlier on Sunday, Khan said that French President Emmanuel Macron had “attacked Islam” by encouraging the display of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

Khan’s comments came after Macron paid tribute to a French history teacher beheaded by an Islamist radical who wanted to avenge the use of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression.

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Putin rejects Donald Trump’s criticism of Biden family business



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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden’s past business ties with Ukraine or Russia, marking out his disagreement with one of Donald Trump’s attack lines in the U.S. presidential election.

Putin was responding to comments made by Trump during televised debates with Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Trump, who is trailing in opinion polls, has used the debates to make accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Joe Biden has called them false and discredited.

Putin, who has praised Trump in the past for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow, has said Russia will work with any U.S. leader, while noting what he called Joe Biden’s “sharp anti-Russian rhetoric”.

Putin appeared less friendly towards Trump in remarks broadcast by Russian state TV on Sunday. In what may be seen by some analysts as an attempt to try to curry favour with the Biden camp, he took the time to knock down what he made clear he regarded as false allegations from Trump about the Bidens.

“Yes, in Ukraine he (Hunter Biden) had or maybe still has a business, I don’t know. It doesn’t concern us. It concerns the Americans and the Ukrainians,” said Putin.

“But well yes he had at least one company, which he practically headed up, and judging from everything he made good money. I don’t see anything criminal about this, at least we don’t know anything about this (being criminal).”

Putin also reacted with visible irritation when asked about comments Trump has made concerning Putin’s ties to the former mayor of Moscow, and to an alleged payment made to Hunter Biden by the ex-mayor’s widow. Putin said he knew nothing about the existence of any commercial relationship between Hunter and the woman. Joe Biden says the accusation about his son is not true.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump’s favour, an allegation Moscow has denied.

Russia has also dismissed accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year’s election too.

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