In a very controversial move and in a major setback to Indian diplomacy, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on Thursday depicted Jammu and Kashmir as a “separate country”.
In its page on non-governmental organisations (NGOs)—more precisely, in the ‘Advanced search for Civil Society Organization’ section—Jammu and Kashmir has been inserted in the ‘Country / Geographical area’ section.
The page is about the listing of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
This has never happened before. And, while the Twitter handles of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of External Affairs were busy with the updates on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing Russia visit, there was no mention about the UN DESA’s move.
It wasn’t even clear whether the Modi Government was even aware of this incident.
In fact, Jammu and Kashmir of India does not even enjoy the status of a ‘Non-member observer states’ to have it elevated to the level of a country.
The UN seemed to be contradicting itself as there is no resolution of the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council to designate Jammu and Kashmir as a separate “country/geographical area”.
Interestingly, apart from Jammu and Kashmir, ‘Occupied Syrian Golan’ has also been listed as a separate country/geographical area in the database.
According to a report in The aPolitical, unlike Palestine (1974) and the Holy See (1964), even Occupied Syrian Golan doesn’t enjoy the status of “Non-member Observer States” at the United Nations.
The Observer States have the right to speak at General Assembly meetings, vote on procedural matters, serve as signatories on working papers, and sign resolutions, but not to sponsor resolutions or vote on resolutions of substantive matters. “The other Observers to the UN are inter-governmental organisations of the member States of the UN like European Union, SAARC etc,” the report maintained.
It may be noted that the government had come up with The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 to crackdown on maps that showed Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as part of Pakistan and China respectively, amid a series of controversies involving Twitter, Facebook and Google.
The draft of the Bill said that any wrong depiction of Indian map could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and a fine up to ₹100 crore.
However, something like this happening from the UN side was certainly unexpected.
Even though there was no government reaction yet, some Twiterrati started reacting to the report.
Suhas Chakma wondered under what resolution UN Secretariat designates Jammu and Kashmir of India as a “separate country”?
(This story will updated later)