United Nations: Abdulla Shahid, the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) outgoing President, has praised Indian diplomat K. Nagaraj Naidu for being a “steady hand in a crisis” while he was his chief aide.
In his closing address to the Assembly on Monday, he called the Indian Foreign Service officer who served as his chef de cabinet “a truly outstanding diplomat, a steady hand in crisis, committed and hardworking”.
In addition to deputing Naidu to be Shahid’s chief aide and coordinate his diplomatic endeavours and run his office, the Indian government contributed $150,000 for general administrative, logistical and management support for the Assembly President.
With a limited budget, the Assembly presidents rely on assistance from member states to function effectively.
Naidu was the deputy permanent representative at India’s UN mission when his services were lent last year to the Assembly President.
With Shahid, who is the Maldives Foreign Minister, completing his one-year term as Assembly President, Naidu will be returning to New Delhi pending his next assignment.
Before his assignment to India’s UN mission, he was a joint secretary in the External Affairs Ministry.
A member of the 1998 IFS batch, he is a China expert having done three tours in that country and another in Hong Kong.
A diplomat said that for a President coming from a small country like the Maldives with limited resources and personnel, India sending an experienced diplomat to help him made a big difference to Shahid’s functioning.
The UN faced a slew of crises during Shahid’s term from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its fallout that created a global food and energy emergency and severe economic problems, just as the world was beginning to come to grips with the Covid pandemic.
Shahid had to innovatively deal with the outcome of a Security Council rendered powerless by Russian vetoes, which raised questions about the UN’s credibility and utility.
To introduce a modicum of accountability for the Council, the Assembly passed a resolution requiring countries wielding a veto to come before it to explain their action — and Russia was made to comply with it.
For the first time in about 40 years, the Assembly also invoked the format of the Uniting for Peace Resolution which empowers the 103-member body to deal with a matter deadlocked in the Council in order to deal with the Ukraine issue.
The Assembly passed a resolution condemning the invasion, although it was limited by the UN Charter from taking direct action.
Adding to the complexities, the Assembly president had to work partially in a hybrid environment because of the Covid pandemic, an ongoing crisis that the Assembly faced.