Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on the working methods of the Security Council


We thank you, Ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki, for your briefing and for the leadership of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (IWG), and also for convening this meeting. We closely followed the remarks by Ms.Karin Landgren.

Russia consistently supports the discussion of Security Council’s working methods in an open format on a yearly basis. We are convinced that this periodical review lets us unleash potential for further improvement of the working methods and unlocks opportunities for the Security Council to enhance e coordination with a broader range of member-states.

The results achieved over the years speak for themselves - many practical suggestions and initiatives by member states have constituted a compendium of the working practices of the Security Council, known as Note 507. Its importance cannot be overemphasized - non-permanent members use it as an important point of reference. Note 507 remains an important aid to the work of the Council. We are confident that today's discussion will also contribute to the work of the IWG, and that new fresh ideas will help to enrich its subsequent discussions, given the understanding that the working methods themselves and any steps to modify them have been and remain the in the ownership of UNSC members.

The issue of the working methods of the United Nations Security Council is a sensitive one. We believe that any changes in this area should be oriented towards a real increase in the effectiveness and efficiency of the Council as it carries out its main tasks of maintaining international peace and security. The use of initiatives that are poorly developed and do not take into account the specifics of the Council's work is counterproductive.

We welcome efforts of the previous chairs of the IWG. We see that non-permanent members take active interest in the procedural aspects of the UNSC activities. A great deal of work has been done since 2006, when the first edition of Note 507 was adopted. We welcome the Council's adoption of additional presidential notes aimed at improving the effectiveness of the work of the Security Council, including its subsidiary bodies. We share the intention of Japan as the incumbent Chair of the IWG to focus on the practical implementation of the Note’s provisions while identifying irrelevant or obsolete elements. We are ready to provide all possible assistance in this painstaking work. In doing so, we proceed from the premise that there should be no haste. Efforts in this area should be concerted and consensus-oriented.


It is regrettable that lately, the Security Council has more frequently encountered substantive problems that require a serious solution. No "cosmetic" measures will suffice to fix those cracks.

It does not stand up to any scrutiny that some members of the Council would systematically use this body to pursue own interests. Due to the great pressure on their end, UNSC agenda constantly stretches to include aspects pertaining to countries’ domestic policies, human rights, climate change and other issues that are not characteristic of this Council. This is presented as good faith efforts, as a desire to help the weak and solve the urgent problems of humanity. While in reality this pseudo-altruism just covers up for tactical actions. All this once again testifies to their true purpose - to exert pressure on unwanted countries.

Against this background, the real causes of destabilization and conflict are usually sidetracked or disregarded. As a result, UN missions may receive unjustifiably broad and vague mandates. For example, we have repeatedly drawn attention to the inadmissibility of attempts to reform the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq to cover tasks that are not typical of a special political mission, such as climate change or transboundary water disputes. We also see persistent attempts to shift one’s own responsibility for crises "onto other people's shoulders". After their disgraceful flight from Afghanistan and the creation of a hotbed of instability there, some Western countries still manipulate humanitarian assistance with a reference to unresolved human rights problems.

The views and concerns of the host country must not be ignored, and the UN instruments must not be used to exert pressure. This only gives rise to distrust of the impartiality and effectiveness of UN efforts and jeopardizes the authority of the Security Council and the Organization as a whole. Subsequently, this makes host countries want to get rid of UN presence.

Another noteworthy point is the approach of our Western colleagues to revising or lifting sanctions from countries where restrictive measures no longer correspond to the situation on the ground. The "sanctions baton" in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and a number of other countries is their favorite tool for exerting foreign policy pressure under the international, United Nations umbrella. Though the reasons that once invoked sanctions are clearly gone by now, our Western colleagues always find "irrefutable" evidence and arguments to keep the restrictions in force. At the same time, we note that the penholders of sanctions-related files on the Security Council often become guided by the nature of their bilateral interaction with this or that country on UNSC agenda. In doing so, they deliberately ignore the countries’ sovereign opinions, successful stabilization efforts, and legitimate concerns, as well as the position of regional organizations, including the African Union.

It is with deep regret that we must note the Security Council's gradual loss of capacity for constructive discussion and negotiation. Instead of seeking solutions to complex problems, which indeed requires both time and a willingness to compromise, Western penholders often opt for the easiest path, provoking the use of the veto and abstention on draft decisions. Let’s consider, for example, the voting on the British draft resolution on the cessation of hostilities in Sudan, which was, for a good reason, put forward on an urgent basis. There were no in-person consultations, constructive proposals were ignored, and the entire process was rushed. At the same time, double standards apply to considering subjects that are completely inconvenient for our Western colleagues. For a month now, the United States has been holding the entire Security Council hostage by preventing it from adopting a demand to end violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone. Against this background, attempts by Western colleagues to compare the situation in Gaza with the situation in Ukraine look hypocritical, taking into account the fact that they request meetings exclusively on the latter topic.

At the same time, the issue of penholdership is getting more acute. Only three delegations continue hold pen on most issues. Despite the long-lost status of colonial powers, they believe in their own exclusivity, consider themselves experts in regional matters worldwide and speak to others in a condescending tone. Thereby they ignore the opinion of host countries, regional actors (who often have more knowledge of the situation on the ground), and sometimes even representatives of the UN Secretariat.

The abuse of the penholder status becomes clear if we take a look at how and with what methods resolutions are negotiated at the Security Council. Penholders often create artificial deadlines, which does not allow for a comprehensive expert examination of proposed texts. At the same time, in order to obtain the desired result at the vote, our Western colleagues eagerly exert pressure on all those who dares to disagree according to the logic "whoever is not with us is against us". At the end of the day, we turn out having a "raw" document that does not take into account the key concerns of the Security Council members, gives unclear instructions to the Secretariat, and sets unrealistic goals and objectives. Such an approach does not contribute to effective conflict resolution. A typical example here is Haiti. The ill-drafted resolution on Haiti’s Multinational Security Force adopted in September has not been implemented, and the situation in the country has become catastrophic. That’s what we warned against and the reason why we abstained on this resolution.  

Russia has consistently advocated the expansion of the number of penholders, primarily through non-permanent members. In that connection, we welcome the launch, with our active participation, of a permanent discussion on this issue in the Council's Informal Working Group. We pay particular attention to accommodating the views of African states. We are convinced that revisiting the issue penholdership will contribute to enhancing Security Council’s effectiveness.

The issue of the optimal ratio of open/closed meetings of the Security Council remains pressing. We have consistently advocated a balance between the two.

We have repeatedly pointed out that the Council’s document flow is overloaded. Every year the UNSC produces several hundred documents. Alas, some of them have a rather questionable added value. Among other distortions is the overreliance on micromanagement in resolutions. We consistently proceed from the premise that the final "products" of the Council should be clear, concise, easy to understand and, above all, action-oriented.

Thank you.

Video of the statement