Statement by Gennady Kuzmin, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at the open VTC of UNSC members “United Nations peacekeeping operations: peace operations and human rights”
I welcome your chairing this important VTC,
My thanks to M-me Bachelet, Mr. Shearer and Mr. Kitenge for their participation.
Peacekeeping and peace operations are of the utmost importance today in ongoing challenging environment. These operations have always been seen as a pivotal activity of the United Nations in the area of maintaining peace and security. We pay tribute to the courage of more than 100 000 UN civilian, military and police personnel who are currently serving worldwide on behalf of international community to protect peace and international law.
We appreciate personal efforts of the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, that he takes to ensure effective functioning of peacekeeping operations. No matter how peacekeeping reform proceeds in the future, what should stand at core of this process is the respect for sovereignty of host countries, compliance with the UN Charter and adherence to the basic principles of peacekeeping: consent of the parties, impartiality, non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.
Neutrality and mandate-oriented standard of conduct, respect for local customs and practices, culture, religion, traditions – all those postulates are well-known and can keep peacekeepers away of a risk to be involved in conflict.
We fully understand the importance of the human rights component in peacekeeping. Unfortunately, the topic of human rights has been extremely politicized. This is detrimental for a trust of international community in UN human rights machinery and human rights as a whole. In such situation the credibility and recognition of the peacekeeping mission and its human rights component are directly dependent on the decency of specific employees, their ability and desire to rely on objective information.
Security Council is not a human rights body. Any attempt to squeeze somehow the topic of human rights per se into the Security Council agenda is encroaching on the prerogatives and mandates of the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant institutions. But splitting mandates is half the trouble. More concerning are attempts to use human rights as an instrument for exerting political and military pressure on other countries. We know examples of interventions for the “sake of human rights” and their devastating consequences.
At the same time, the main objective of UN peacekeeping and political missions is to promote reconciliation and peacekeeping. Other tasks are auxiliary, including human rights component of mandates. They are designed to contribute to the achievement of the main goal and should not replace the priority areas of peace operations.
It is necessary to carefully and responsibly approach the implementation of the human rights component of the activities of various United Nations structures, avoiding duplication of their functions. Excessive emphasis on human rights issues at the expense of other problems facing the international community today inevitably leads to an overload of the entire system and a decrease in the efficiency of its work.
Prevention and settlement of armed conflict are the main drivers for preventing human rights abuses, and not vice versa. Human rights violations are not the cause of the conflict, but their consequence.
The best contribution that the Security Council could make to protect human rights is that of working effectively on the main task – to safeguard international peace and security in accordance with the Council’s mandate and the UN Charter.