Indian Prime Minister Urges UN to Change Mid-20th Century Approach to ‘Retain Relevance’

The United Nations must change its “mid-20th century” approach to retain relevance in today’s “multipolar world,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
Indian Prime Minister Urges UN to Change Mid-20th Century Approach to ‘Retain Relevance’
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses a public meeting at Jerenga Pathar in Sivasagar district of India's Assam state on Jan. 23, 2021. (Biju Borg/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

The United Nations must change its “mid-20th century” approach to retain relevance in today’s “multipolar world where institutions are extremely important for a rules-based order,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

In an interview with the Press Trust of India (PTI) on Sept. 3, Mr. Modi said the U.N.’s outdated approach “cannot serve the world in the 21st century.” He urged the international institution to rethink its priorities.

“Our international institutions need to recognize changing realities, expand their decision-making forums, relook at their priorities, and ensure representation of voices that matter,” he said.

“When this is not done on time, then smaller or regional forums begin to attain more importance,” he added.

India has previously criticized the U.N. General Assembly’s decision to delay the reform of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council, calling the move “yet another wasted opportunity.”
The Indian leader will not attend the upcoming high-level general debate of the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly. India will send External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to address the high-level week instead, according to multiple reports.

Mr. Modi, an aspirant to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, is seeking to boost India’s status and promote its causes, such as relief for unsustainable debt, using the global pulpit of the G20 summit starting Sept. 9.

The two-day summit will showcase India’s highest-profile guest list, from U.S. President Joe Biden to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The G20 is certainly one of the institutions that is being looked at with hope by many countries. Because the world is looking for actions and outcomes, no matter where they come from,” Mr. Modi told PTI.

“The effort towards greater inclusion for the Global South, especially Africa in global affairs has gained momentum. India’s G20 Presidency has also sowed the seeds of confidence in the countries of the so-called Third World,” he added.

Possible New Members

Mr. Modi said on Aug. 27 that the country’s role as the G20 host this year would focus on highlighting the concerns of the developing world, and he proposed that the African Union should become permanent members of the forum.

As host of the G20 this year, India has struggled to bridge the differences among member countries over the war in Ukraine. None of the several meetings held in the country has succeeded in producing a communique, sparking questions over whether the leaders’ meeting next month will break the deadlock.

Instead, India has consistently appealed for the fractured grouping to reach consensus on issues that disproportionately affect developing countries, or the so-called Global South. They include unsustainable debt levels, inflation, and the threat of climate change, even if the broader East-West split over Ukraine can’t be resolved.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.