Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on threats posed to the integrity of the UN Charter
We thank UN Legal Counsel S.Soares for the briefing.
Since our Western colleagues are very much eager to hype up some fakes about alleged deliveries of Iranian drones to Russia, let me dot the i's and cross the t's from the very start. We called this meeting for another cause. There is “format 2231” that is used to discuss issues of implementation of UNSC resolution 2231. What we want to discuss today is a much broader issue. It has to do with the risks that some member states pose to the integrity of the UN Charter and the capability of the Security Council to deliver on its key function of maintaining international peace and security.
I refer to the recorded attempts by the United States, Great Britain, and France who have been joined by Germany, to articulate a direct individual instruction to the UN Secretariat in violation of Article 100 of the Charter.
Letter S/2022/781 that Permanent Representatives of the UK, France, and Germany circulated in the Security Council, follows up on prior claims of these countries about alleged violations of resolution 2231 and says that they “would welcome an investigation by the UN Secretariat team responsible for monitoring the implementation of UNSCR 2231 and stand ready to support the work of the Secretariat in conducting its technical and impartial investigation”.
Letter S/2022/782 of the Permanent Representative of the United States directly demands the UN Secretariat to carry out such an investigation.
This is not Russian propaganda, as our Western colleagues like to say. These are facts. Anyone who is willing to can read those letters.
These letters are a written proof that the mentioned delegations are in breach of para.2 of Article 100 of the Charter of the United Nations, which prescribes to each member state “to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities” of the Secretariat and not to seek to influence its staff in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Besides, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany are in fact driving the Secretariat towards a dual violation – first, of para.1 of Article 100, according to which the Secretariat should not receive instructions from any government, and secondly, of the mandate of the Secretariat in the context of UNSC resolution 2231 by making it act ultra vires.
Let me dwell on this second point in more detail.
Western delegations keep saying that the UN Secretariat is allegedly authorized to monitor the implementation of 2231. This is not true. Paragraph 2(a) of Note S/2016/44 of the President of the Security Council, which is entitled “Security Council tasks under Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)” directly states that the Security Council itself should monitor the implementation of the resolution. Sub-paragraphs (c) and (d) thereof unambiguously stipulates that it is the Security Council that should answer to the enquiries from Member States regarding the implementation of the resolution and respond to information regarding alleged actions inconsistent with the resolution.
Paragraph 4 of the Note reads that the Security Council shall convene informal meetings at the expert level to carry out these functions, including those that have to do with obtaining information from member states. So it is obvious that any incoming information from member states should be considered by Council members at informal meetings. Let me underscore that the Note makes no single reference to the role of the Secretariat in this process.
What’s also important is that under paragraph 5 of the Note, the Security Council should seek to make decisions related to its functions in the context of 2231 by consensus, under a no objection procedure with a deadline of at least five working days.
It means that any action with regard to the functions listed in paragraph 2 of the Note, be it monitoring of the implementation of the resolution or considering reports about its possible violations, require a separate decision of the Security Council. The Council adopted no such decision with regard to claims about alleged violations of 2231 by Russia and Iran. What’s more, it is obvious that there are principled differences among Council members on this matter.
Now let me draw your attention to paragraph 6 of the Note which provides an exhaustive list of the functions of the UN Secretariat with respect to resolution 2231.
- Assist the facilitator in the organization of informal meetings of the Security Council;
- Manage all incoming and outgoing communications related to implementation of the resolution and assist the facilitator in corresponding with Member States;
- Draft correspondence, speaking notes and briefings of the facilitator;
- Maintain and archive all information and documents relating to the Security Council’s work related to the implementation of the resolution;
- Maintain and promote publicly available information on the restrictions imposed by the Security Council, including through the Council’s website;
- Provide administrative support for the Security Council’s review of
recommendations from the Joint Commission.
As you can see, there is not a word in this entire list about conducting any “investigations” whatsoever.
Sub-paragraph 6(g) clearly states that the Secretariat may perform other tasks only when tasked by the Security Council. The Council articulated no such instruction for the Secretariat, especially in terms of conducting an investigation.
Our Western colleagues and representatives of the Secretariat attempted to justify such “investigations” by making a reference to paragraph 7 of the Note. In particular, they say that the biannual report of the Secretary-General should include what the English version of the Note calls “findings”, which seemingly implies that there is something that needs to be found. But this is a deliberate distortion. Under those findings, the Note does not imply surveys or investigations. What it implies is analytical conclusions. This is how “findings” is translated in all official UN languages. Its is “выводы” in Russian, “le conclusion” in French, “las conclusiones” in Spanish, “調查結果” in Chinese, and “نتايج” in Arabic.
Steps of the Western delegations who insist that the Secretariat must “investigate” the issue of drones, create a very dangerous precedent in the work of the United Nations. From the legal perspective, they are trying to expand the authorities of the Secretariat by assigning to it new uncharacteristic functions by infringing on the prerogatives of the Security Council.
Such an approach does not meet the basic principles of the work of the United Nations, including the division of competences among its main bodies and their respective specialist areas. It also runs counter to plain logic. If the Secretariat can unilaterally resolve substantive and policy matters upon receiving “orders” from certain member states, then why have collective bodies like the Security Council and the General Assembly at all?
The fact that the Secretary-General was tasked to prepare reports on the implementation of the resolution does not mean that the Secretariat was by default authorized to collect data and respond to reports of member states about alleged violations of the resolution. This should be done by the UNSC Sanctions Committees with the support of respective groups of experts, but not by the Secretariat. I hope we all do understand that Team 2231cann not be considered a sanctions committee by definition, because it is a division of the Secretariat.
I assume everyone understands now that in the context of resolution 2231, the Secretariat acts solely as a focal point. So we proceed from the point that the only thing the Secretariat can do upon receipt of the letters the UK, Germany, France, and the US is to convey them to the facilitator of “format 2231” for circulation among the Security Council members. As for the SG’s report, it should merely state that such letters have been received. Colleagues,
This is blatant hypocrisy and double standards on the part of Western delegations. They pretend to be the main champions of the UN Charter, they include calls to “uphold the principles of the UN Charter” in various non-specialized UNGA resolutions, and accuse other member states of violating it.
But what do we see today? When it is convenient to them, the very UNSC members who only two weeks ago argued about the need to protect the UN Charter with foam at their mouth, openly violate the Charter themselves now and nudge the Secretariat to do the same. Speaking about the United States that have been in breach of resolution 2231 for the past 4 years since they unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, this is a new unprecedented level of neglect of the Charter and decisions of the Security Council.
Unfortunately, the Secretariat does not seem to try and resist this sort of unabashed political pressure. We heard the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General say that they were ready to act upon request of separate member states. This runs counter to the letter and spirit of Article 100 of the Charter and resolution 2231 itself.
This creates serious risks for the integrity of the UN Charter, effectiveness of the work of the Security Council, and the Organization at large. We call on UNSC members to protect the Charter, condemn the steps of Western delegations that clearly undermine it, and also speak up calling the Secretariat to observe Article 100 and its mandate in line with the framework set out in Note S/2016/44 of the President of the Security Council.
We also request Mr.Soares to confirm that initiation of an investigation upon request of some delegations and not the entire Security Council constitutes a violation of Article 100 of the UN Charter, and that the Secretariat’s consent to do it will also constitute a violation.
Right of reply:
Today’s remarks by the states that have requested the UN Secretariat to carry out an investigation had little connection to legal aspects. They once again indulged in sly rhetoric that the Secretariat must be responsive to requests by member states. It was particularly touching to hear the United States, that is the main violator of resolution 2231, accuse Russia of breaching this document. The Secretariat should respond to addresses of member states, that is true, but it must act on the basis of its clear-cut mandate and the UN Charter rather than wishes of particular states.
When citing our request for an investigation in Yelenovka, our Western colleagues are being very cunning, because this has nothing to do with today’s discussion and resolution 2231. The question that we raise here is completely different. We wonder what the UN Secretariat is guided by when claiming ready to embark on an investigation of an alleged violation of UNSC resolution 2231 upon request of several Council members rather than the entire Security Council? Where does this mandate come from? They refer to the practice rather than legal norms and fail to mention that we submitted consistent written objections every time an investigation was mentioned that violated resolution 2231. The fact that some information to that end was previously included in SG’s reports does not signify the presence of some sort of legitimate practice, and definitely not a UNSC practice. This was initially at odds with the mandate of the Secretary-General and the Secretariat at large. Once again, neither the Secretary-General, nor the Secretariat of the United Nations hold such mandate. Russia has always objected to such practice. How can we be talking about setting the practice if it disregards effective mandates and if there are standing objections from a P5 member state? There is a term “persistent objection” which excludes establishment of a practice, and we started to raise these objections back in 2016, and continue to do so now.
Today we were called to allow an investigation if we have nothing to hide. But the question is not if anyone is hiding anything. The question is if such an investigation may be considered legitimate in the absence of a relevant mandate from the Security Council, the only body that can authorize such steps. The representative of Ireland went as far as stating that the letters containing requests were enough and that no other UNSC-issued mandate was needed. This is a remarkable claim from the 2231 facilitator. This looks like total legal nihilism. We would recommend to our Irish colleagues to better study the material, otherwise we will be compelled to doubt the ability of this country to head this subsidiary body of the Council.
The position of Western states, whereby they hypocritically twist facts does no longer surprise anyone, and so we are not surprised. However some UNSC members overdid themselves today. How can an issue of mandate observance under resolution 2231 raised at the meeting of the Security Council, the body that adopted this resolution, be considered an attack on the Secretariat, an act of blackmail against the Secretary-General and especially a violation of Article 100 of the UN Charter? This is a favorite trick of our Western colleagues – accuse others of what they commit themselves. Yet in general, Mr.President, we are thankful to our colleagues for providing an exhaustive list of violations of Article 100 by the Secretariat – I mean the investigations that “format 2231” carried out in breach of its mandate. Now all those violations have been put on record of this meeting as well as the fact that we pointed at those violations in every given case. What you are doing now is you try to make the Secretariat commit a violation only because such violations used to happen before. We know this pattern very well.
Let me ask Mr.Soares again. Will a launch of an investigation upon request of separate member states rather than the Security Council as a whole constitute a violation of Article 100 of the Charter and provisions of resolution 2231? Will a consent to carry this out also violate the Charter?