‘…to bring the Global South and others to the negotiating table on the basis of Gandhi’s non-violence so that we can leave a safer world for our children.’

In the last twenty years, I have learnt to turn to my friend and golf partner, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Laureate, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei whenever game changing developments take place in the world to help me decode the geopolitical situation.

I turned to him again recently in view of the breathtaking developments of the last two years and he agreed to give me an interview on Asianet News to answer my questions.

He was clear and precise in his answers, though he was less optimistic than before, which he attributed to his advancing age.

I began by reading out to him the following paragraph from his Nobel acceptance speech.

‘Imagine what would happen if the nations of the world spent as much on development as on building the machines of war. Imagine a world where every human being would live in freedom and dignity.

‘Imagine a world in which we would shed the same tears when a child dies in Darfur or Vancouver.

‘Imagine a world where we would settle our differences through diplomacy and dialogue and not through bombs or bullets.

‘Imagine if the only nuclear weapons remaining were the relics in our museums.

‘Imagine the legacy we could leave to our children. Imagine that such a world is within our grasp.’

Then I asked him whether the world he imagined was nearer today than twenty years ago.

Dr ElBaradei said that every word he spoke twenty years ago was still with us. We made no progress and in fact, we have regressed.

During the Cold War days, there was some predictability about what the two sides might do.

But today, it is a “free for all” world.

The feeling today is that anyone can get away with murder.

The international law which he studied for years does not exist at all.

It is clear that no one can win a nuclear war. International cooperation is the only way forward, but we are trying to isolate countries or de-risk them, not to bring all the countries together.

The major issue today, he said, was inequity. A major war is taking place in Europe between two nuclear powers, one directly and the other indirectly.

The UN is totally helpless in the face of a war and there is not even a ceasefire in the making.

The UN Secretary-General said recently that he was powerless.

He can only raise his voice in a wilderness of destruction and death.

This situation raises no hope. The only way is to reform and strengthen multilateralism.

We need to change the rules, the procedure. We need to change the Security Council.

We are in a situation in which Russia can veto everything that does not suit it.

“We cannot have a Security Council without India, which is 7% of humanity, as a permanent member.”

We need to have a UN which is suitable for the 21st century. The fundamental problem is that a permanent member who commits aggression can still participate in the vote.

It can have the cake and eat it too. The only body we have to deal with international security is totally dysfunctional because of its structure and its composition.

Many developing countries think that this is not their war.

If you tell them about the rule of law, they would ask where the rule of law was in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

There is a deeper sense of inequity today even though the consequences of war anywhere would affect us all.

Asked whether, in the light of what happened at the G20 Summit in Delhi, would G20 be able to act on behalf of the Security Council as G20 has a more equitable representation and has no veto in it, Dr ElBaradei said, “it could be an ad hoc mechanism to compensate for the failure of the Security Council. It could be a negotiating body, whose recommendation could go to the Security Council.

“But you still have to get the agreement of the G20 which has the big five and the Global South working at cross purposes.

“The Global South must feel that G20 will truly reflect their concerns. The wars raging in Yemen, Syria, Libya and other places in the Middle East must be ended with the active participation of the UN and not just the big powers.

“India, as the president of G20 should challenge Russia, China and the United States and create forums which can deal with climate change, reform of financial institutions, nuclear disarmament and show that even when the UN is dysfunctional, progress can be made on these vital issues.

“India has a special responsibility to bring the Global South and others to the negotiating table on the basis of Gandhi’s non-violence so that we can leave a safer world for our children.”

Speaking of terrorism and the recent controversy between India and Canada about dealing with terrorism, he said that he hoped that it would be resolved on the principle that terrorism is an issue which should be tackled by the due process of law without consideration of internal political expediency.

India and Canada have been working together and that situation should be restored.

“Indians are everywhere today, leading the charge in technology, innovation, equity and peace. This should grow rather than diminish in the years to come,” he said.

Dr ElBaradei said he saw a glimmer of hope in the younger generation which does not care for race, ethnicity or religion.

The children of today are global citizens, not affected by a false sense of nationalism or patriotism.

But we have to bequeath to them a stable world so that they can build on the foundation they inherit.

The conversation was frank and forthright, illuminated by his experience to fight against discrimination and inequity.

I recall his courage to go to the UN Security Council to testify that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction on its soil.

But a coalition of the willing waged a second Gulf war, which devastated the whole region with global consequences.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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