Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the vote on the Japan draft resolution on the Joint Investigation Mechanism mandate in Syria
The Russian delegation has participated in good faith in all the consultations, multilateral and bilateral, designed to bring the positions of Security Council members closer on the extension of the mandate of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to investigate instances of chemical weapons used in Syria. Any attempt to present things differently amounts to nothing but intentional disinformation.
We note the initiative of our Japanese colleagues, which they presented with the intention of helping to find a way out of the situation. But we cannot support their proposal for a short technical extension of the JIM’s mandate. We informed the members of the Council of that decision and explained our reasons. The draft resolution (S/2017/970) was nevertheless put to the vote. T
his step has nothing to do with anxiety about the fate of the Mechanism, since everyone knows that it is winding up its work today. As far as we are concerned, no extension of the JIM’s mandate is possible unless we fix the fundamental shortcomings in its work. Any other possibility can be excluded since the Mechanism leadership — already covered with shame thanks to its fictitious investigation of the episode of sarin use in Khan Shaykhun — has signed on to the unsubstantiated accusations that have been made against Syria.
I do not really know whether those who have been condemning Russia so vehemently today have actually read the report or our comments on it. Japan’s draft resolution has presented the Secretary-General with the impossible task of submitting proposals that reflect the views of the members of the Security Council. As our heated discussion has emphasized, in many respects they are diametrically opposed.
We cannot consider the subject of extending the JIM in isolation from the general context. Yesterday’s Security Council meeting, which was politically loaded in ways that had very little to do with chemical weapons in Syria, left a very unpleasant aftertaste. We are even more alarmed about what is going on in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The United States delegation introduced a draft resolution (S/2017/962) that essentially paves the way for giving Syria an ultimatum. What are they trying to achieve? Destruction of the results of the unprecedented collective efforts to accomplish Syria’s chemical demilitarization that Russia and the United States launched? Have they thought about the consequences of the steps they have taken in New York and The Hague for a political settlement in Syria? What is going on now in the Security Council in New York, and what they came up with in The Hague, are links in a single chain.
Opinions have been voiced that a failure on the part of the Security Council to come to a decision on extending the JIM might reflect badly on the Council’s authority and dignity.
We suggest looking at it from the other direction. Will it really add to the Security Council’s authority if we extend the life of a body that for the past two years has been rubber-stamping unsubstantiated accusations against Syria, as if nothing had happened? Is that worth making the Security Council an accomplice in a grandiose fraud? Did it look good when, at the April meeting convened after the American air strike on the Shayrat airbase (see S/PV.7922), many delegations either acted as if nothing had happened or flat-out supported an act of aggression against a sovereign State?
There is absolutely no basis for assuming that ending the work of the JIM signals the emergence of some kind of new challenges to the regime of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, whose implementation Russia views with the greatest possible feeling of responsibility. That has been our historical role, and we cherish it. The non-proliferation regime depends on international instruments that have nothing to do with the JIM. But what really needs attention is the growing threat of chemical terrorism in the Middle East.
What has been going on here today is like a bad play. Russia is blamed for shutting down the JIM. The people claiming that seem to have short memories. Have they forgotten that yesterday it was they who shut it down by voting against the draft resolution submitted by Russia, China and Bolivia (S/2017/968)?
Yesterday, when a vote was taken (see S/PV.8105) on the RussianChinese draft resolution submitted by Bolivia, the Council had a good opportunity to give the Mechanism a new chance by improving and strengthening it. But the effort was blocked — effectively vetoed by three permanent members of the Council. Do not bother trying to lay the responsibility on Russia now. It was a conscious choice on the part of those whose priority clearly has nothing to do with ensuring an objective investigation of chemical crimes in the region but is all about keeping the pressure on Syria and having confrontations with Russia.
There is no need to create drama out of the end of the JIM’s work. There is nothing preventing Council members from continuing to discuss the question of improving this instrument with a view to its possible resumption of its work in the future. But for that it is essential to come to a common understanding of the importance of eliminating the JIM’s systemic shortcomings, which have ruined it.
Our draft resolution remains on the table. If those who are concerned about renewing its activities really want it, they can get involved in meaningful work on its text and stop dealing in political propaganda.