Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia after UNGA vote on a draft resolution on Srebrenica

Point of order:


Before I make my explanation of vote, I would like to raise one issue. Consider it a point of order. Before the vote you gave the floor to the "distinguished representative of Serbia". I would like to remind you that he is not "a distinguished representative of Serbia". He is the President of the Republic of Serbia. I think you should have recognized it, respected his high office and addressed him accordingly.  

Video of the statement


Explanation of vote: 



Today we saw a sad page in the history of the UN General Assembly. A Germany-led group of delegations decided to abuse the powers of the General Assembly and adopt, under the guise of a resolution on the establishment of a commemorative day, a political declaration whose purpose is, despite the initiators' claims to the contrary, to demonize one of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia and to undermine the Dayton Peace Agreement and UN Security Council resolution 1031 (1995), which endorsed it. Not surprisingly, the non-consensual resolution that was adopted by the vote, not only fails to call for the full implementation of Dayton, but even does not mention it. The result of the vote was not what the sponsors had expected. Look at the numbers: more UN members did not support the resolution than those who did.

Among the initiators of the draft was the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who acted in excess of his authority in this matter. According to the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is part of the Dayton Agreement, before being put forward, this resolution should have been approved by all members of the Presidency of BiH.

This is yet another confirmation of the consistent policy of some Bosnian elites and their Western sponsors towards undermining the role of the Presidency as the supreme voice of the consensus position of the multi-ethnic BiH society on key issues of state importance. Let us recall that the system of balancing the interests of the three constituent peoples and the two entities lies at the heart of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which put an end to the deadly civil war in Yugoslavia.

The sponsors of the initiative were misleading the members of the General Assembly from the outset. They claimed that the resolution was aimed at reconciliation while concealing that it lacked one essential element, namely the consent of all peoples and entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The plain fact that the draft resolution was introduced and discussed stirred up tension in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans as a whole. This is confirmed by mass demonstrations in Banja Luka, letters and statements by the Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Željka Cvijanović, and Serbian representatives at UNSC meetings on April 30 and May 15. The statement made by the National Assembly of Republika Srpska on 22 May also shows that the issue under discussion today has a legal dimension.

It is completely unacceptable to draw parallels between the adopted resolution on Srebrenica and the resolution on the genocide in Rwanda. The draft GA resolution on Rwanda had been agreed upon internally in the country before being considered in the General Assembly, and then in a regional group, the African Union. With the resolution on Srebrenica, we saw nothing that could count as an attempt to agree on common approaches. Instead, the “group of friends” drafted and put forward the resolution as a finished product on a “take it or leave it” basis, with a couple of rounds of formal consultations that were held for the sake of appearances.

All calls by responsible UN members, including Russia and Serbia, to return the issue of the Bosnian War memorial day to the national level for discussion by all three constituent peoples of BiH, as well as to achieve a unified position in the region, were rejected. At the same time, the list of co-sponsors includes Germany, the United States, France, Great Britain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, and even New Zealand. Even the Netherlands, whose so-called peacekeeping battalion played a shameful role in the Srebrenica tragedy in 1995, has not hesitated to join the list.

One thing is clear: the initiators of today's decision are acting deliberately, pushing Bosnia and Herzegovina towards a confrontation, without regard for the price it paid during the civil war in the 1990s. The war killed 100,000 people, and saw many bloody tragedies against not only Bosniaks, but also Serbs and Croats. It seems that this is being done so that the BiH peoples never reconcile. We consider these actions as a threat to peace and security in the country and the region as a whole.

All this is cynical and hypocritical. But what is even more surprising is that the main sponsor of this resolution is Germany. The country that in the 20th century unleashed two world wars, murdered millions of people in concentration camps, was responsible for mass crimes in Africa, and took a very active part in the collapse of Yugoslavia and the bombing of Sarajevo in 1995, is now trying from the podium of the General Assembly to lecture others on the importance of national reconciliation. We are convinced that Germany has no moral right to even mention the term “genocide” in relation to anything other than its own heinous crimes. May I remind that the United Nations, in which walls we are gathered today, was created because of the crimes of Nazi Germany and in order to prevent such crimes against humanity from recurring once and forever.

With this step, the sponsors of the draft resolution dismissed the status quo, which was based on the General Assembly resolution 69/323 establishing December 9 as the International Day to commemorate the victims of all genocides, and opened a Pandora's box. We must remind that there is no decision of the General Assembly on genocide and other crimes of Nazi Germany against the peoples of the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Those crimes claimed 27 million Soviet lives. Many European peoples suffered too, and that includes Serbs who were affected very severely. We have not forgotten that. And we will not forget. No one is forgotten and nothing is forgotten.


We cannot leave without attention the statements by a number of delegations on the importance of respecting the decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice.

The ICTY and its successor, the Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), which were established to ensure impartial justice, have utterly failed in that task. Their biased and politicized decisions have done nothing to promote sustainable reconciliation in the Balkans.

The ICTY and IRMCT only deepened the divisions in the Balkans. They placed responsibility for the events of the 1990s almost exclusively on the Serbs, ignoring the many crimes of the other parties to the conflict. As a result, the voices of Serb victims were never heard and no justice was served. It seems that for the ICTY and IRMCT those crimes did not exist at all. That is not how real justice works.

Not to mention that the ICTY's body of evidence was largely based on controversial legal concepts invented by the Tribunal itself. Its decisions were thousands of pages long, but the subjective component of the crime of genocide was deduced from a witness's retelling of a single phone call (and only from one end of the line).

The International Court of Justice did not go into details and simply accepted the conclusions of the ICTY at their face value. A number of ICJ judges explicitly pointed to that in their separate opinions to the judgment of February 26, 2007.


We heard repeatedly that the resolution before us is merely meant to bridge a gap, reaffirm the decisions of international courts and promote long-term national reconciliation. However, the bitter irony is that today's vote clearly showed how divided the international community is on both Srebrenica and the aforementioned decisions. The adoption of this resolution is a Pyrrhic victory for its sponsors. What have they achieved? If the authors aimed to split the General Assembly, which we had warned them about in advance, they succeeded brilliantly.

Thank you.

Video of the statement