Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC debate "Peace and security in Africa: Strengthening the fight against the financing of armed groups and terrorists through the illicit trafficking of natural resources"


We welcome you as President of the Security Council. We thank UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly and AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye, as well as Dr. Paul-Simon Handy for their insights.  

We appreciate the efforts of Gabon as President of the Council in organizing this meeting on such a crucial topic. We welcome all high-level participants to this meeting.


Natural resources is a key factor influencing sustainable development, and quite often, it forms the backbone of both developed and developing economies. States hold inalienable sovereignty over their natural resources.  Therefore countering illicit activities in resource industries is also a duty and a prerogative of the governments of resource-owning countries in the first place.

We proceed from the assumption that mineral resources deposited in the bowels of the African continent belong to the peoples of African countries, who should be the main beneficiaries of those riches. African countries have not yet recovered from the damage inflicted by the colonial powers that had turned Africa into one huge open pit. This literally gave nothing to the local populations, whereas Western colonial powers profiteered at their expense. This process continues even today. Proceeds from the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources go to multinational corporations. Everyone knows in what countries those corporations (as well as the banks where all the profits go to) are based.

Taking into account the considerable resource potential of Sub-Saharan Africa, the growing influence that illegal armed formations are gaining in conflict-ridden countries on the continent – Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, the DR Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic, Mozambique – also extends to the area of natural resources, whereby those armed groups establish control over mineral deposits to receive extra sources of financing.  We note the efforts of national governments to combat the illegal armed formations in order to maintains security, stability, and control over natural resources and promote socio-economic development of their countries. It is critically important that ownership of this process must belong to the Africans themselves. We welcome the commitment of states that encounter challenges in this area to resolving those problems collectively, including countering illegal armed formations, ensuring border control, supporting small local businesses in the area of development of natural resources, and elaborating joint registers.  

There is Security Council resolution 2482, which is designed to address the nexus between terrorism and organized crime. In order to achieve the goals of 2482, a whole bunch of measures needs to be adopted that should enhance interaction of national judiciary and law enforcement bodies.  Another aspect is the need to improve the international legal framework on extradition and legal aid on criminal cases. Apart from that, we believe that participation in an organized criminal group must be universally considered a criminal offence – as envisaged by the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – and be subjected to severe penalties.

We stand for providing comprehensive assistance via the UN channels to strengthen relevant national mechanisms. However, we assume that such assistance should be provided upon request of interested states and fully account for their national interests and specifics. Uniform approach to rendering assistance is unacceptable. It rather creates problems than solves them. We note the readiness of the African Union and regional organizations to provide the required assistance.

We view the Kimberley Process as a relevant international mechanism to prevent the illegal enrichment of armed groups from the illicit trade in Africa’s natural resources. Russia is a responsible participant of this multilateral format, which is aimed at preventing the incitement of conflicts through illegal mining and trade in rough natural diamonds. Russia’s presidency in the Kimberley Process in 2021 largely contributed to the implementation of the format’s pressing tasks.

At the same time, we believe that attempts at politicizing the activity of the Kimberley Process are counterproductive. Kimberley mechanisms should add to effective control of resources rather than create misbalances, which may limit opportunities of authorities in exporting diamonds while making it possible for armed groups to profit from the illicit trade. Unfortunately, this is the situation that we see in the Central African Republic.

Speaking about the illicit trade in natural resources and recharge of terrorists and illegal armed groups, there is one more important aspect to it.  Who is buying those resources? It is well known that illegal trafficking in natural resources is an established method of financing terrorism. Who provides illegal armed formations with finance, weapons, explosives for their attacks?

We draw attention on a regular basis to violations of arms embargos with regard to terrorist organizations in various regions across the globe, i.a. on the African continent. We are convinced that the problem of deliveries of military purpose products to terrorists must not be silenced down. It is important to track terrorists’ supply chains and take part in efforts to curb them.

Another point that we cannot pass by is the lack of balance of sanctions that have been imposed on some African states. Those sanctions regimes often fail to meet the de facto situation in those states. What’s more, those may disrupt plans of the authorities in the area of state-building and prevent them from establishing effective control over their national territories.  At the same time, those sanctions and arms embargos are unable to prevent weaponization of the illegal armed formations and terrorist groups that fortify their presence, i.a. using the money that they receive from exploitation of natural resources. As a result, those non-state entities may turn out better equipped than governmental troops, as was the case in Central Africa. In Sudan, the arms embargo prevents the authorities from training and equipping the military contingent that should ensure peace and security in Darfur, and resolve the problem of “porous borders”.  In Somalia, the federal government has been requesting heavy weapons for years. They need arms to combat Al-Shabaab, which has diversified its supply channels lately and received profits from charcoal smuggle. We believe it justified to consider easing South Sudan’s effective sanctions regime in order to facilitate training of joint armed forces and state security bodies. Illicit extraction and smuggle of mineral resources and timber remains a pressing problem for the country, in particular its state of Equatoria.


In conclusion, we do regret that in its anti-Russian frenzy, the United States centered its today’s statement around the issue of our African partners receiving assistance through Russian companies. This reveals the real plans and goals of the United States and shows what they really need from the African countries. We are surprised by the words of the US Permanent Representative who cited some “client states”. Clearly, this is the language and the category that only the US uses. We never operate such terminology. To us, African states are partners, not clients. I remind that in Syria, the United States is stealing oil on the pretext of countering terrorism. At first, they picked a company with rather obscure background that was supposed to do this. But then, when even Washington's allies thought the situation was scandalous, the American side got back to robbing Syria off its resources in another way – through the US military.  

Thank you.


Right of reply by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva:


Let me return to the point made by the French representative today who said that we need to collect data and statistics, study how the illegal armed formations and terrorists engage in illegal exploitation of natural resources and also see how we can respond to that. We are fully supportive of this idea, which perfectly meets the topic of this debate. However the statements made today by some Western colleagues, including our colleagues from France, also raised another topic, which is not on the agenda of this meeting, namely Russia’s assistance to African states.

In this connection, let me say that it would be good to do some calculations and see how many hundreds of billions of dollars France received under agreements with Francophonie states that granted them independence. It would be good to see how much money France actually earned exploiting the natural resources in countries that had been under its colonial pressure and in the framework of “contractual colonialism” that followed. By the way, much of what I just referred to is still happening. So once the calculations are done, we will be eager to speculate on predatory practices and policies.