Speech by Sushma Swaraj at the Meeting of 60th Asian African Conference Commemoration and 10th anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership

“Strengthening South-South Cooperation to Promote World Peace and Prosperity”

Jakarta, April 20:
I am honoured to address the distinguished guests on the historic occasion of the 60th Anniversary of Asian-African Conference and the 10th Anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership, under the theme of “Strengthening South-South Cooperation to Promote World Peace and Prosperity”.

At the outset I wish to convey my appreciation to Indonesia for hosting this great initiative and for the warm hospitality on the 60th Anniversary of Asian-African Conference.

Excellencies,

The 10th anniversary of the New Asian African Partnership is taking place in the year 2015 in which various streams of the global discourse are gathering pace to culminate in four key events – COP21 on Climate Change in Paris, Summit to finalize Post-2015 Development Agenda, 70th Anniversary of the UN and the 10th WTO Ministerial in Kenya – each one of which will have far-reaching political and economic ramifications.

There are significant transitions and developments taking place in Asia, Europe and the Middle East with regional and global implications. Every country in this world had faced the scourge of terrorism. The time is ripe to avail the 10th anniversary of the New Asian African Partnership to send out a strong message to the world of our shared will and capacities to contribute to global peace, stability and sustainable development with the United Nations playing a central role in dealing with global challenges and threats.

The year 2015 marks the 70th year of the foundation of the United Nations and 10th anniversary of the World Summit and also comes with an unique opportunity to demonstrate collective will to reform the UN which is the global institution for political governance. Our failure to push for any kind of outcomes only adds to the increasing sentiment of frustration amongst the wider membership and dents the credibility of the Security Council’s decisions, if it continues to ignore contemporary realities of the 21st century.

Excellencies,

We also have a crucial stake in a rule based multilateral trading system and in an early conclusion of a balanced and fair agreement in the Doha round in the WTO. The mandate of the Doha Round is clear and development needs to be at the forefront of any outcome. There is need for the developing countries to work together to ensure that the Work Programme is in keeping with the Doha development mandate.

Today we are standing at cross roads, enjoying the fruits of industrialisation and technology but are also exposed to new challenges arising out of it. Climate Change, a cross cutting issue is one among them, directly affecting the lives of people and nations. It is important for the international community led by the developed countries to take urgent ambitious actions to address climate change and its adverse impacts. Developing countries should work together for a comprehensive, balanced and equitable agreement for the post 2020 period, in accordance with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

The population clock keeps ticking reminding us of the responsibility to ensure sustainable and holistic development for all our people. This can only be achieved through providing access to affordable energy, housing, healthcare, basic services, education and decent employment and an enabling environment that bridges infrastructure gaps and leads to poverty reduction, economic growth and sustainable development pathways.

A universal development agenda requires that developed country partners must also take on obligations. It is our hope that our partners will help us in establishing a supportive international environment to pursue the goals of inclusive and sustainable development. At the same time, a critical aspect would be to ensure that the developing countries are assisted in this huge task with adequate financial and other necessary means.

When we talk of development, we cannot ignore terrorism which is plaguing the entire world and puts a heavy burden on our efforts for peace and development. India is committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in a composite form. India would be willing to engage with other countries both bilaterally and through multilateral arrangements to combat terrorism.

India has always stood for South-South solidarity. Cooperation with other developing countries has been a central tenet of independent India’s foreign policy from the very start. Our vision that we in India should share our developmental experiences with other countries traversing the same path was the inspiration for our technical and economic cooperation programme, ITEC, which was launched in 1964. India partners with almost all countries present here through its ITEC programme sharing experience for human resource development, skill development, deployment of experts, etch. I am happy to note that every year India hosts thousands of candidates from fellow developing countries for hundreds of training courses under ITEC.

Excellencies,

Our two continents are connected by the oceans. The seas around us have facilitated links of commerce, culture and religion with our extended neighbourhood across several millenniums. This is evident from our cultural linkages which stretch across Asia and Africa. The Indian Ocean presents a number of opportunities for our close cooperation for overall development and also poses some challenges including those flowing from piracy at sea. Through our collaborative efforts we can not only tap the opportunities the Indian Ocean presents but also address the challenges it throws in our way.

Let us in Asia and Africa continue to work together to create a conducive environment around us including through our multifaceted partnerships for our own growth and development. This is also Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s vision succinctly described by him in “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (All together for Development for all).

Excellencies,

Once again, I thank Indonesia for their tireless effort in organising this historic summit, which has every potential and scope to show the world, the strong will and commitment of nations to chart out ways to tackle global challenges and to evolve consensus on future action. I hope the summit and the year 2015 carves a niche for itself in the realms of history as one that changed the global outlook.