At UNSC, India calls for removal of export restrictions for countries battling global food crisis

New Delhi: At the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday May 5, India called for an exemption from food export restrictions for countries sending aid to tackle the current food shortages. the world, resulting from the war in Ukraine.

Referring to the first report by the Global Crisis Response Group task force, India’s permanent representative to the UN, TS Tirumurti, observed that the conflict had led to a “skyrocketing” of the inflation and a shortage of food grains and fertilizers. The Global Crisis Response Group is led by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, set up to examine the fallout from the Ukrainian war on food and energy security.

The Panel recommended “exempting food purchases by the WFP [World Foood Programme] for humanitarian aid restrictions on the export of foodstuffs with immediate effect”. He noted that WTO (World Trade Organization) members would have the opportunity to formally adopt the measure at the 12th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference to be held in June 2022.

In his statement, Tirumurti welcomed the recommendation but said it should apply to countries helping to alleviate current shortages across the world, not just the WFP.

“We welcome their recommendation to exempt food purchases by WFP for humanitarian assistance from food export restrictions with immediate effect. It is important that similar exemptions are granted to all Member States and relevant stakeholders, who contribute to this global humanitarian effort,” he said.

India’s proposal applied to situations beyond humanitarian disasters where the WFP was directly involved, but also covered the crisis in countries likely to face severe food shortages, such as Egypt.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore had led an initiative at the WTO to remove export restrictions on food grains for non-trade humanitarian efforts. But India initially opposed it, fearing that buying large volumes of food could have inflationary effects domestically.

Earlier Thursday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres briefed the UNSC on his visits to Russia and Ukraine, where he told them to end the conflict as soon as possible.

“I said the same thing in Moscow as in kyiv… Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of its territorial integrity and of the United Nations Charter,” he said.

He noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to “a crisis that is also devastating global energy markets, disrupting financial systems and exacerbating extreme vulnerabilities in the developing world.”

Tweet line

Outside the UNSC chamber, Tirumurti’s response to a tweet from Dutch Ambassador to the UK Karel van Oosterom went viral across the Indian Twittersphere.

At Tirumurti Tweeter of his statement to the UNSC on Ukraine, Oosterom, a former Dutch envoy to the UN, replied: “You should not have abstained at the GA. Respect the Charter of the United Nations.

Please do not patronize us, Ambassador. We know what to do,” retorted Tirumurti.

After a deluge of criticism from Indian users, Oosterom deleted his tweet.

Since January this year, India has abstained in procedural votes and draft resolutions in the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council which deplored the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

In April, India abstained at the United Nations General Assembly in a vote proposed by the United States to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council over allegations according to which Russian soldiers allegedly killed civilians as they retreated from towns near the Ukrainian capital, kyiv.

In March, India abstained at the United Nations General Assembly on a resolution by Ukraine and its allies on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, saying the focus should be on the cessation of hostilities and emergency humanitarian assistance, and that the project did not fully reflect New Delhi’s expectations to focus on these challenges.

On March 2, the General Assembly voted to reaffirm its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and deplored in the strongest terms heightened Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Along with 34 other nations, India abstained from the resolution, which passed with 141 votes in favor and five against.

(With PTI inputs)

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