Context: India criticised UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) for “selectivity” in seeking to protect Abrahamic religions — Islam, Christianity and Judaism over others.
What is UNAOC?
- UNAOC is an organisation which was set up in 2005
- Objective: to prevent polarisation between societies and cultures and to bridge differences between them.
How UNAOC criticised India?
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, for example, has been criticised for offering fast-track citizenship to only a select group of religions, leaving out Muslims.
- India cannot call for a culture of peace that stitches together an alliance of faiths, while Indian States bring laws that seek to make difficult inter-faith marriages.
What are the key highlights of statements issued by India while criticising the world body?
- India pointed out that previous resolutions of the UNAOC dating back to 2006 had repeatedly decried the hatred against those religions “Islamophobia, Christianophobia and anti-Semitism”
- However, the body didn’t condemn attacks on other religious groups including Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, who have suffered terror strikes and seen their shrines destroyed in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- The UNGA statement welcomed the Kartarpur Gurdwara corridor agreement between India and Pakistan.
- The world body failed to note that Pakistan’s government has taken over the management of the Sikh shrine, which it called a contravention of the agreement and a violation of Sikh beliefs.
- India’s delegate also accused Pakistan of a “culture of hatred” against “religions in India” and fostering cross-border terrorism.
- UNAOC only serves to further the theory of an inevitable “clash of civilisations”.
What are India’s concerns?
- UNAOC portrays only three religions as victims of religious hatred.
- It is important that they are broadened to include every community that faces religion-based violence.
- It is also important that the government thwarts Pakistan’s particularly insidious attempts to create a controversy against India at this time, by pushing these resolutions as India steps to take its two-year seat at the UN Security Council.
- India has been concerned by an increase in intrusive language from the UN bodies concerned as well, given that UNAOC issued a statement of “grave concern” over the Delhi riots this year that it said resulted in casualties of “mostly Muslims”.
- India is keen to push back on the UNAOC and other UN arms, like the UN Human Rights Council, that have criticised the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
India needs to maintains its own secular credentials enshrined in the Constitution and its pluralistic ethos.