Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting on security challenges in the Mediterranean
We thank the Italian delegation for taking the initiative to convene today’s meeting.
In our view, its format makes it possible to consider the challenges and threats to global peace and security from a new perspective, including through the prism of the situation in the Mediterranean region. We would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his informative report on the subject.
The Mediterranean region has clearly encountered a slew of problems spawned by crisis situations in countries around it as well as beyond it. The terrorist threat continues to grow and the scale and scope of transnational organized crime is continually expanding, owing in part to its close ties to terrorist activity. The waves of migrants attempting to leave their homes to seek a better future in a new homeland are not diminishing.
However, it would be wrong to imply that such worrying trends are linked exclusively to the region around the Mediterranean Sea. Their negative impact is being felt around the world. Our planet has become so interdependent that a crisis in one spot on the globe can have a chain reaction far beyond its borders. Regrettably, in this era of globalization, we cannot defend ourselves from this either by building walls or deploying military forces. In this situation, there is only one possible way for the international community to respond to these threats.
We must unite our efforts, based on cooperation through honest partnerships, with the aim of resolving the situations of conflict in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel-Saharan region — which have become catalysts for the wave of destabilization in the Mediterranean — as well as a factor of waging an uncompromising fight against the threat of terrorism. We have long called for this.
One of the stated aims of today’s briefing is to consider the root causes of the multifaceted threats to security in the Mediterranean. We believe that, overall, this approach is worth supporting. From the very beginning of the so-called Arab spring, which triggered a series of destructive processes in the Middle East and North Africa, Russia has repeatedly suggested that the Security Council should conduct a substantive analysis of what occurred and draw lessons from it for the future.
However, few have made use of that sad but valuable experience. Meanwhile, the growing instability in the region has been skilfully exploited by extremists and terrorist groups. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, the African cells of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and others have hastened to fill the power vacuum that external forces helped to create.
We share the concerns about the unprecedented harm they continue to do to cultural heritage sites, using profits from their trade in historically and culturally valuable objects to finance terrorism’s requirements.
We expect that this problem, and the issue of human trafficking, will be considered in more detail in separate Security Council meetings this month.
Just yesterday we discussed the situation in Libya (see S/PV.8104), where the lack of stability is a key piece in the region’s jigsaw puzzle of security. We heard worrying assessments of the political situation, and many expressed their concerns about the slow implementation of Special Representative Salamé’s action plan. Yet almost no one mentioned the original causes of the crisis in Libya.
The representative of Bolivia alone reminded us — and we thank him for it — that they are to be found in the military intervention that the NATO countries undertook in 2011 in order to change a regime that they did not like, in violation of international law. The result was that the radical groups that had been used not long before to oust Mr. Al-Qadhafi gained access to arsenals, a danger that had warned about well in advance. That in turn foreordained the further evolution of the situation far beyond the borders of Libya, primarily in the SahelSaharan region and the Mediterranean.
It would be wrong to delude ourselves that terrorists can be used for achieving political goals such as effecting regime change in Tripoli, Damascus or anywhere else, and then to hope that they will sign up for deradicalization classes and assimilate peacefully into civil society. They will accept financial, military and other assistance, of course, but they will turn their backs on their sponsors as soon as they consider it necessary.
We have already seen that with Al-Qaida in Afghanistan, and we will see it again. It is simply wrong to close one’s eyes to manifestations of radicalization in such situations, let alone condone them.
We do not share the belief that human rights violations are the primary cause of conflict and that action in support of human rights is the key to preventing conflict. Indeed, practice has shown that the reverse is true. Only resolving conflicts can lead to improvements in human rights situations.
Reckless intervention, including under the banner of protecting human rights, can lead to a collapse of State authority, humanitarian disasters, civil wars and surges in terrorism, and thereby produce massive flows of forcibly displaced people. We believe that States that are actively involved in such interventions should acknowledge that it is they who have primary responsibility for assisting the refugees and internally displaced persons who have fallen victim to their actions.
We share the concerns about the deaths of refugees and migrants who choose dangerous paths in their quest for a better life, fleeing terrorist threats, persecution, conflict, instability and poverty. It is important to understand that the long-term solution to the problem lies in finding political settlements in the refugees’ countries of origin. Millions of people, and entire nations, are in need of peace, stability and confidence in the future. The ultimately determining way to significantly reduce the refugee problem is to establish lasting peace in Syria, Libya and other countries in the grip of conflict.
It is essential to comprehensively combat criminal organizations that are smuggling people, improve and strengthen mechanisms to manage migration processes and increase the international community’s cooperation on this issue. We must also expand socioeconomic development assistance to countries of origin, and it is as important as ever to combat displays of racism and xenophobia towards refugees and migrants.
The obvious fact remains that in order to ensure security, development and stability in a region, it is essential to strengthen State institutions, provide for systemic economic and social development and universal respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as taking measures to combat terrorism. It will be essential to improve the performance of existing mechanisms.
For example, the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel has not yet been used to its full potential. If the response to the threats in the Mediterranean is not a truly collective one, waves of instability will continue to spread from crisis areas. It is essential to stop double-dealing and courting radicals. We are ready to cooperate openly with all of our partners in the interests of preventing the destructive evolution of events in the Mediterranean region.
Russia’s policy is transparent. We have no hidden agenda.