IBSA Together in Resisting No-fly Zone | IBSAHeadlines, IBSA-featured, India Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Analysis by Ranjit Devraj
NEW DELHI, Mar 9 (IPS) – India has found backing at this week’s India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) ministers meeting for its stance that a no-fly zone over Libya must follow multilateral consultations.
India is aware that it has little freedom of action either at the United Nations General Assembly or in the U.N. Security Council, of which it is currently a member, Prof. Pushpesh Pant who teaches diplomacy at the Centre for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi told IPS.
“India is acutely sensitive to the kind of action that the U.S. and its allies took in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Pant who, as course director for entrants into India’s diplomatic service, is mentor to many of India’s top diplomats.
A joint communiqué issued Tuesday at the end of the two-day seventh trilateral commission declared that a “no-fly zone zone on the Libyan air space or any coercive measures additional to those foreseen in Resolution 1970 can only legitimately be contemplated in full compliance with the U.N. Charter and with the Security Council of the United Nations.” India had made its stance clear before the meeting attended by Brazilian foreign minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, India’s minister for external affairs S.M. Krishna and South Africa’s minister for international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Nirupama Rao, India’s foreign secretary, had said an Indian decision would take into account the positions of the Arab League, the African Union and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia India, China) group.
Patriota endorsed Rao’s stance on a no-fly zone. “It can be problematic to intervene militarily in a situation of internal turmoil and this can be considered only within the U.N. framework and with close coordination with the African Union and the Arab League.”
Pant pointed out that India was in a peculiar situation as a serious aspirant to permanent membership of the Security Council, and needed to “show Washington that it was being cooperative.”
On a state visit to India in November last year, U.S. President Barack Obama said while he looked forward to “a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” he wanted India to be mindful of the “responsibilities” that go with being a world power.
The IBSA trilateral was emphatic in the need for Security Council reform. It wants the reform to include expansion of both permanent and non-permanent membership, and representation from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“Such reform in the UNSC is of utmost importance to reflect contemporary geopolitical realities and to enhance its representativeness, effectiveness and legitimacy,” the communiqué said.
Pant said while the communiqué served India’s interests, it cannot forget its peculiar situation with the grouping.
“To start with neither Brazil nor South Africa had to deal with a large Muslim minority the way India has to,” Pant said. “On top of that India exists in a tough and volatile neighbourhood that includes Pakistan.
“India needs to be wary of a situation in which the U.S. has already begun hinting at the possibility of military intervention in Pakistan,” Pant said. “India also needs to worry about the situation in Nepal and a Myanmar (Burma) that is dominated by China.
“What is more,” Pant said, “I am not even sure that when the chips are really down either Brazil or South Africa will be able to withstand pressure from the U.S. or its European allies.”
There are hard economic considerations too. India’s former foreign secretary, Shyam Saran said that widespread instability in the Middle East would impact India’s 4.5 million workers in the region, and the government would “prefer to avoid the socio-economic challenge of providing them with jobs.”
Saran said, however, that in the long term India would like to see a movement towards democratic political systems in the Middle East because that would increase prospects for Indian business in the region.
Pant, who is currently working on a project to study the possibilities for technological collaboration among IBSA countries said the best part of the trilateral was the trade agreements that came out of the meeting.
India and Brazil agreed to raise their bilateral trade from the present 7.8 billion dollars to ten billion dollars a year over the next few years, and begin identifying complementarities in energy, oil, tourism, pharmaceuticals, mining and agro-processing.
Brazil and India also signed an agreement to increase bilateral air services by lifting restrictions on the number of airlines that can operate between the two countries.
“The aviation deal, if taken advantage of by airlines in both countries, can make a huge difference to the progress of IBSA,” said Pant who travels frequently to both Brazil and South Africa.
Pant said he also looked forward to the ‘India Show’ in Sao Paulo later this month. The event is expected to provide a valuable platform for Indian and Latin American entrepreneurs to forge business ties and increase trade and investment.
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