Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC debate "Promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security: the rule of law among nations"
We thank today’s briefers.
Our Japanese colleagues centered this meeting around the issues of the rule of law. Indeed, this is a relevant and pressing topic that needs to be viewed in a systemic and unbiased manner. However the Concept Note for this meeting makes it clear that the organizers of this event have no such intention. Statements that we heard today confirm that when raising the issue of rule of law, our former Western partners only seek to promote the point about Russia’s alleged responsibility for the emerging threats to international peace and security. While doing this, they dismiss the blatant violations of their own. Of course, we cannot agree to this narrative, which completely fits into the “rules-based order” concept, where the rules are dictated by the West. This narrative is simply false and contrary to the norms of the international law, including the UN Charter. I will give you a recent example of creating such convenient rules. I mean the exclusion of Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women. There was no legal opportunity to do this. But this did not stop the US and its allies. They expelled Iran and that’s that. Is it you who should teach us international law after that?
Statements that our Western colleagues made today featured one central motif, according to which Russia crossed the point of no return in terms of international law when starting a special military operation on 24 February 2022. This might create an impression, that nothing unlawful had ever happened in the world before that moment. Of course this is not so. International law had been repeatedly broken and assaulted long before that. And not by Russia, far from that. Let’s consider a few cases.
The real causes of the Ukrainian crisis are the arrogance of the West and its absolute unwillingness to take into account the interests of others, even when it comes to such crucial aspects as security of a state. There are simply no other explanations why NATO states absolutized the right of the Alliance to expand (in violation of the basic OSCE principles), even though this violates the principle of indivisible security.
We all find ourselves in a rather complicated situation, that originated from Washington’s frantic eagerness to play the self-imposed role of the “world’s policeman”. According to the document that the Congressional Research Service issued in 2022, since the year 1991 when the US claimed to have won the Cold War, there have been 251 cases of foreign military engagement of the United States. Besides, according the US Census Bureau, in 2022 the US had more than 16 million armed forces veterans, i.e. individuals who had direct combat experience. Just think of it, and especially in light of the fact that no one has attacked the United States for the recent two decades. Think of it.
The collective West blatantly violated the international law and the legal order based on the rule of this law, once NATO air-dropped first bombs on Yugoslavia, if not earlier. Take those who today like speaking of “the first conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War and an encroachment on the principle of inviolability of borders”. Back in the 1990s, they bombed and dismembered a sovereign country, tearing away part of it territory in violation of international law and the UN Charter. What they did was a banal aggressive war of choice, which they tried to hide behind a pretext of a “humanitarian intervention” – the concept that has nothing to do with international law. These same countries subsequently sent comments to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where they supported “legitimacy” of the unilateral declaration of independence of the so-called Kosovo. Now they tell us that the “Kosovo precedent was unique” and that their argumentation and position cannot be applied to the referendums in the Crimea and the liberated Ukrainian territories.
Then there was the “war on terror” which led to the devastation and many years of occupation of Afghanistan that came together with numerous and unpunished war crimes by the NATO soldiers, deaths of dozens of thousands of civilians, and an unprecedented growth of drug production and trafficking. Until this day, Afghanistan has not been able to recover from those perturbations.
In parallel to all this, the US and its allies engage in extensive interpretation of Article 51 of the UN Charter and assume that it allows self-defense from non-state entities on the territory of third countries. It means that whenever Washington or its allies need to invade or bomb a country, it is enough to say that there are terrorists in it.
Everyone remembers NATO’s false-flag aggression against Iraq, which they explained by Iraq’s allegedly possession of WMDs, which, of course, were never found. This pretext, however, enabled them to invade the country, devastate its economy and industry, kill the nation’s leader and hundreds of civilians, and then begin a years-long occupation and appropriation of the Iraqi national and mineral resources. What a nice example of “rules-based order” that was!
Then came Libya, where the same concept of “humanitarian intervention” was used, but under a different name. This time it was “responsibility to protect”. The US and its satellites perceived the UNSC resolution introducing a no-fly zone in Libya as a carte blanche for carpet-bombings of the country. Again it was straightforward aggression that violated the international law and the Charter of the United Nations. The result was predictable – national riches plundered, national leader killed without charge or trial, the once flourishing state plunged into the depths of chaos and a civil war started to last for more than a decade by now.
In Libya's case, such alleged instrument for maintenance of the rule of law was used as the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a matter of just a few days, then ICC Prosecutor L.Moreno Okampo fabricated a case against M.Gaddafi. As evidence, he cited crudest fakes about Viagra-powered mass rapes by Gaddafi’s soldiers, and some “black mercenaries” recruited to commit special atrocities. This time the ICC was the “fig leaf” that covered up for Western aggression and dehumanized the Libyan leader and his inner circle.
But when it comes to direct responsibilities of the International Criminal Court at the Libyan track, everything is much sadder – for years, the ICC has imitated robust activity with zero result. Needless to say, the Court never identified or held accountable the perpetrators of war crimes and those responsible for the deaths of civilians, as well as the murderers of M.Gaddafi.
Next one on the list of states who suffered from the “rule of law American style” is Syria. There was direct military aggression by the US and NATO and occupation of a considerable part of the Syrian territory that has continued until now, and also their support for the foreign terrorist fighters.
Finally, since the organizers of this debate chose to focus on Article 51 of the Charter today, we cannot fail to note that it was in Syria where the US set another record in terms of extensive interpretation of this article. They notified the Security Council about joint collective defense with the Syrian Kurds against the Syrian army. It means they passed off as self-defense what actually was a joint action with a non-state entity against the armed forces of the country where that non-state entity was located. In this instance, I wonder where the organizers of this debate see the use of Article 51 “only against armed attacks while observing the requirements of necessity and proportionality rather than as a plausible reason” as mentioned in the Concept Note?
The manmade Ukrainian crisis that I mentioned earlier fits perfectly well in this chain of events that were caused by the colonial thinking and hegemony of the West. Everyone who looks at it without bias can clearly see that Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine is a consequence rather than the root cause of the Ukrainian crisis, which is at least 9 years old. Very generally, as the starting point we can consider February 2014, when the collective West plotted, financed, and orchestrated the deadly unconstitutional coup in Ukraine, which was hypocritically labelled as a “revolution of dignity”.
American politicians do not even try to conceal that the had a hand in those developments. Ms.Nuland even shared how much the regime change cost them – 5 billion USD. In her telephone communications back in 2014, she shuffled future leaders of Ukraine as a deck of cards.
International law was dealt a deadly blow when the guarantees of European leaders to the incumbent democratically elected President Yanukovich were defied the very next day. The Ukrainian leader, who was still in the country, was announced absent and removed from the office in violation of the Constitution that was in effect at that moment. The five judges of the Constitutional Court who opposed this arbitrariness were simply expelled (allegedly for “violating the judge’s oath”) and replaced with the “right people”, which once again broke the fundamental law of the country. The violation, in case someone missed it, consisted in loyalty to the spirit and letter of the then constitution of Ukraine.
The United States and the European Union were not in least confused by the fact that all legislative procedures that were effective at that moment in Ukraine were blatantly violated. They hurried to recognize a clique of nationalists who claimed to be in authority after the Maidan coup, as the only legitimate leadership of Ukraine. High standards of democracy and the rule of law, aren’t those? Encouraged by this support, the self-appointed acting president Turchinov issued a decree starting the so-called anti-terrorism operation in April 2014, which in fact unleashed a full-fledged civil war on the people of Donbas, who refused to come to terms with this abuse of power and live under the rule of radicals. This lawlessness reached a climax when protesters who opposed the radicals were burnt alive in the Odessa Trade Union House on 2 May 2014. The Wes turned a blind eye to that, making it clear to the Kiev regime that they were free to commit whatever crimes they wanted. Turchinov’s cause was then advanced by oligarch Poroshenko, who was put in the president’s office under the anti-corruption slogans.
The civil war in Ukraine would continue for 8 long years and become a nightmare for the people of Donbas to claim thousands of lives, including children’s. In the meantime, Western politicians would make programmatic claims about commitment to settlement and the lack of alternative to the Minsk Agreements. Blatant lies again. As was clear from the recent revelations of the participants of those events, A.Merkel and F.Hollande, the West initially was not going to settle anything. They admitted that the Minsk Agreements only had been needed to buy time, pump up Ukraine with foreign weapons, mercenaries, and train it for hostilities. P.Poroshenko also said so. Against the backdrop of such a systematic and terrible deceit, it should not come as a surprise that after V.Zelensky assumed the office under the peace slogans; he made a turn to follow this initial vector and plunged his country in a complete disaster.
There is much talk about prevention. The Secretary-General, who already left this chamber, likes speaking of prevention very much. If UNSc resolution 2202 that endorsed the Minsk package had been implemented faithfully, including by those UNSC members who are present here today, we would not be in this situation today. Here you are, Mr.President. That is observance of agreements, the need for which you addressed today, and that is a telling example of prevention.
We are witnessing another energetic attack of the West on the international law, which manifests itself in an unprecedented abuse of Article 63 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice with the purpose of exerting pressure on one of the main UN bodies. I am speaking about the intention of approximately 50 states, mainly from the EU and NATO, to join on the side of Ukraine in the ICJ case filed under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Many of them say without reservations that they do so out of political considerations and to demonstrate their support for Kiev.
Nevertheless, we remain firmly convinced that the international law and goals and principles of the UN Charter will triumph over the pseudo-legal concepts, such as the “rules-based order” and constructs like “summits for democracy”, NATO, AUKUS, and other “purely defensive” alliances and classifications that divide states in “the right and the wrong”.
We look forward to the United Nations and the Secretary-General playing a more active role in those issues. We feel disappointed that the unclear concepts promoted by the UN Secretariat, like “a new vision of the rule of law”, to a large extent go along with the “rules-based” order. They fail to stress the importance of taking into account the national, cultural, and religious specifics of each given state. On the contrary, they attempt to impose a uniform model of conduct on UN member-states and give “instructions” regarding their governance model and social structure. Instead of spending money on elaborating such doubtful speculative constructs, we recommend to focus on preserving and protecting the Charter-centered system of international law.
The International Court of Justice should play the key role in this matter. We hope that this major UN body will not succumb to the unprecedented political blackmail that it had to deal with. Ultimately, the resoluteness and consistency of the ICJ will define the resilience and authority of the entire system of international justice.