Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council meeting on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons

I would like to begin, Mr. President, by congratulating you at the outset of the Egyptian presidency and thanking the Chinese delegation once again for its capable leadership of the Security Council’s work in July.

I am also grateful for the words of support taddressed to me and to my colleagues. I have already had the opportunity to assure my colleagues that I have come here with the hope and intention of working constructively with them with the aim of helping to solve the problems facing the international community.

It so happens that the first official meetings of both the General Assembly and the Security Council that I have had the opportunity to participate in as Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation have been devoted to the issue of combating terrorism. For our country, the topic is an absolute priority for the forum of the United Nations, where we must all work diligently to unite the international community’s efforts to confront that universal evil.

We are grateful to Egypt for organizing today’s meeting and to today’s briefers for their substantive contributions to our discussion. We would like to highlight the activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate in proposing and providing specialized technical assistance. We firmly believe that the United Nations system’s newly created Office for Counter-Terrorism will enable us to expand their work’s impact, and the efforts that have been undertaken through INTERPOL and other specialized organizations are significant in that regard.

My delegation supported the Council’s adoption today of resolution 2370 (2017), on the issue of weapons falling into terrorists’ hands. As the resolution notes, States should work to suppress any kind of support to terrorists, including commercial, economic and financial ties. In laying out these provisions, the Security Council also urges all States to intensify their efforts to secure their borders. We hope that message will be heard.

Despite the international community’s efforts, the massive flow of arms to terrorists from outside continues. The fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the other terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq has gone on almost as long as the Second World War, and in all that time, the militants have never experienced any disruption in their supply of arms and ammunition, including the most up-to-date types, and they continue to use these weapons. Only today the Russian Embassy in Damascus was again shelled from terrorist groups’ positions.

Even with the effective offensive currently under way, ISIL’s resources, though reduced, are still unacceptably high. They can be enabled only through a large-scale, systematic, reliable supply of arms to terrorists that continues even now and would not be possible without the connivance, if not the assistance, of State organizations.  

The solution to the problem that we have consistently proposed for years is an initiative that would impose a comprehensive trade and economic embargo on territories controlled by ISIL, with the goal of banning the import and export of all goods to or from ISIL-controlled territories and imposing financial restrictions and strengthening border security in Syria and Iraq’s neighbours, because the information that we have shows that their border controls have been ineffective.

Unfortunately, our proposals, which could significantly strengthen the impact of the resolution we have adopted today, have once again met with stubborn resistance from various delegations. Their unwillingness to go down the road of tightening controls on the circulation of arms in the region plays into the hands of international terrorism. We continue to be puzzled as to why this is the case and whose interests it serves. We are wasting an opportunity to make an effective joint decision. More than that, we are wasting time. The terrorists are exploiting this situation, preserving their combat potential and clearly assuming that some of their sponsors, including State structures, will continue to support them.

Of course, international arms dealers such as, for example, private companies, significantly enhanced their activities on a background of the crises that have erupted in the Middle East and North Africa and that feed the wanton greed of the world’s notorious arms lords. In their pursuit of profits or political goals, suppliers frequently prefer to turn a blind eye to whatever the destination and purpose of the batch of arms they are exporting may be or whose hands it may ultimately end up in. The numerous middlemen operating in the market sometimes fail to exercise the appropriate responsibility. States that have accumulated excessive stockpiles of small arms and light weapons are not always as careful as they should be with their supplies.

The production of weapons under expired licences, or without a licence from the countries that own the relevant technology, continues to be a serious problem. With a view to solving these problems, we have repeatedly proposed strengthening the concrete national measures in Security Council  resolutions that could significantly reduce the risk of small arms and light weapons falling into the hands of terrorist organizations. We note that in adopting today’s resolution, the Council has acknowledged the need for improving legislation in these areas, but any specifics have gone by the board.

We all know that where there are military conflicts of this type, private companies can do only what States allowed them to do. Russia has sufficient information from trustworthy sources to confirm the fact that there are States that condone such activity and that a number of countries’ interested agencies, including special services, are frequently involved in supplying arms to terrorists. If necessary, we are ready to share particulars of that data. We consider such a state of affairs unacceptable and we will continue to take steps aimed at using the international community’s joint efforts to deal with it.

In conclusion, we would once again like to affirm Russia’s willingness to cooperate multilaterally with the United Nations counter-terrorism entities, including on the problem of arms supplies, and we urge all delegations to work actively to that end.