“Fact” Check Regarding US Activity at the United Nations
We have taken note of the press release issued by the Permanent Mission of the United States on 20 January 2022, which provides a “fact sheet” on “restoring America’s leadership at the United Nations in President Biden’s first year”. The US claims to have successfully countered the expansion of influence of Russia and China. Methods used to ensure such “countering” are quite indicative, to say nothing of the fact that this sort of goal-setting looks rather objectionable in the present-day multipolar world.
The Russian delegation believes that joint UN-based efforts of all stakeholders are imperative for achieving the goals that the global community has set out. Therefore, we welcome leadership of any state given they stand at the tracks of constructive interaction. In our view, in order to recover global partnerships, we need to dismiss narrow interests of small groups, and demonstrate solidarity and unity in the face of common challenges, such as COVID-19 pandemic. Regrettably, instead of doing this, the American colleagues carry on a very sad tradition. When citing their most prominent achievements of 2021, they speak about being active in drawing the dividing lines, organizing duplicating and non-inclusive events off the UN platform, “deterring” other states across the UN system. This frame of reference is absolutely alien to us. It makes us think the United States forgot why the United Nations is there and what the US delegation itself is doing at the Organization.
The global problem of climate change can only be overcome by collective well-coordinated action. Such steps are endorsed under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, where states adopt matter-of-fact and consensus-based decisions. As shown by the many-years-long practice, the desired effective result can only be achieved if climate becomes a unifying agenda that is implemented in the interests of all states. We regret that the US and its allies turn climate change into a military and political issue at the Security Council, dividing the international community and diverting attention from the real root causes of conflicts that flare up across the globe.
Violation of obligations under the Headquarters Agreement
In 2021, the United States proceeded with gross violations of its obligations under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement.
Almost no official UN event was free from visa-related difficulties that the US side created purposefully. When it comes to delegates from Moscow, the US authorities either refuse them visas or issue visas in the very last moment. We remind that prompt visa issuance for such events is a US obligation under the international law rather than a matter of will or political preference.
There are remaining problems with issuance and renewal of visas for the employees of the Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN and members of their families. Besides, the US uses same discriminatory measures against Russian nationals working for the UN Secretariat.
The situation with predatory seizure of Russian diplomatic property in Upper Brookville by the United States has entered its sixth year. The property was taken away amidst the US-generated hysteria about Russia’s alleged interference in the local elections. As we see from media publications, this story was created for domestic consumption, and by now it has collapsed like a “house of cards”. Yet the United States is still keeping the Russian property in violation of all thinkable norms of the international law, as if trying to convince themselves of the opposite.
As we see, when implementing its course towards deterring Russia, the United States does not hesitate to abuse its status of the host country of the UN Headquarters, thus violating applicable norms of the international law. Such behavior can hardly be a showcase of “fair play”, worthy of a Permanent Member of the Security Council.
We see another example of hypocrisy in the US claiming that its leadership “laid out an affirmative vision for reinvigorating the UN’s foundational values”. What we see in practice is the United States attempting to undermine those values in the spirit of the Western concept of a “rules-based order”, where rules are the right of power rather than norms of the international law.
We remember too well the words of US Assistant to the President for National Security J.Sullivan, who said in the run-up to the so-called Summit for Democracy (9-10 December 2021) that “structure of international relations led by the UN was becoming a thing of the past”. This “summit” however had nothing to do with democracy and pursued but one goal – bring together US allies and satellites to confront Russia and China.
We also noticed that our American colleagues are so preoccupied with the idea of their “exceptionalism”, that they see no logical inconsistency in their calls to counter advance of a “more authoritarian vision of international order” on the one hand and their aspirations to “rebuild American leadership at the UN” on the other.
Attempts of the US Administration to present its policy in Afghanistan as a success look hypocritical. The outcome of the 20 years of US and NATO presence in Afghanistan can hardly be described as victorious. It is rather the direct opposite.
The US entered Afghanistan with a mission of combating terrorism. Yet in reality the advent of the Americans only secured Afghanistan’s status as a hotbed of terrorism and drugs. Over those years, apart from Al-Qaida and its affiliates, another terrorist group emerged and gained a foothold in Afghanistan – it was ISIL. Drug production peaked to unprecedented heights. Against this backdrop, the socio-economic situation in Afghanistan remained deplorable. Billions-worth money infusions ended up in the hands of corrupt America’s lackeys. As a result, Afghanistan turned into a total dependent, without any prospect for self-reliant development.
Years-long US presence in Afghanistan cost thousands of Afghan and American lives, and billions dollars spent. Finally, separate talks with Taliban behind the backs of Afghans, donor funding of the tottering regime of A.Ghani, and Taliban’s ascent to power resulted in an irresponsible withdrawal of the US troops. Photos of Afghans falling from the undercarriage of a US Boeing as it was taking off to leave Kabul circled the entire globe.
Against this backdrop, American attempts to shift responsibility for the current Afghan crisis look particularly disingenuous, as well as their claims that other countries need to recover Afghanistan after 20 years of presence of NATO contingent.
Irresponsible action of the US military deserves a separate mention. They launched indiscriminate airstrikes, killed civilians without charge or trial, including women and children. To say nothing of private military companies that were active in Afghanistan.
We must not forget that Washington imposed a moratorium on investigating those heinous crimes and bringing the guilty to account. The United States curbed all attempts of the ICC to engage, threatening to impose sanctions.
Saying that they care for Syrians, whom terrorists from “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS) forcefully keep in Idlib as a human shield, American diplomacy actually uses the taxpayers’ money to support the militants. In parallel to this, the United States spares no effort to rebrand Idlib’s cutthroats and present them as an alternative to the government in Damascus. Since the US claims committed to maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity, Washington “shoots itself in the foot” when strengthening the positions of HTS. This is not the only example though. Americans unashamedly occupy not only the area near Al-Tanf, but also the entire north-east of the country – Syria’s oil region and granary.
If the United States presents itself as the “key donor”, it should act consistently and withdraw from the illegally occupied territories, whereby they must give the plentiful lands across the Euphrates back to Damascus and stop plundering the country by exporting truckloads of oil from Syria’s north-east on a monthly basis. True care means no selectivity. Besides, the majority of Syrians in need of assistance live at the government-controlled territory. However, being exposed to cruel US sanctions, they have to survive rather than just live, thus getting to know the true face of “American humanism”.
UNSC resolution 2585 envisages fulfilment of a range of obligations, first of all on the American part. Russia has been true to its word, consenting to extend the work of Syria’s cross-border mechanism for another six months. The US side, however, has been rather inconclusive in that past half year. The remaining six months will provide a good opportunity to improve the situation.
As the United States proclaims a success in the budgetary domain, we would like to remind that this state remains UN’s biggest debtor. Despite slight improvement of UN’s financial status, payment delays and the scale of the US indebtedness (usually around a billion USD a year) adds considerable difficulties to the work of the UN Secretariat and implementation of its respective mandates, whereas the illegitimate sanctions against some developing states impede them from making their assessed contributions and incapacitates them from voting at the General Assembly.
As for protection of human rights and ensuring gender equality at the UN platform, in 2021 the United States upheld a remarkably destructive approach in this area as well.
When the Third Committee took action on resolution "Strengthening the role of the United Nations in the promotion of democratization and enhancing periodic and genuine elections”, the Americans disrupted the longstanding consensus, having pushed through questionable concepts “sexual orientation and gender identity”, as well as “women in all their diversity” in the final text of the document. As a result, the General Assembly was split. It is noteworthy that not only those concepts are not agreed upon at the UN, but they actually have nothing to do with the subject matter of the resolution. What’s interesting, a resolution on promoting genuine elections is put forward by a state which has a backward electoral model that does not meet the universal international standards – that is no secret. The plain fact that ordinary American voters cannot directly participate in electing their president is rather telling.
Despite the US attempts to bill itself among the leading advocates of children’s rights, Washington has little to be proud of in this area. The United States remains the world’s only country that refuses to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Apart from that, during the US presence in Afghanistan, its military committed a number of serious crimes against Afghan children, including killings and causing heavy bodily harm. Those service members who were responsible for the crimes were never held accountable.
In 2021, the United States was almost the only country that cited the falsely interpreted right to the freedom of expression as a reason to not support UNGA resolution condemning glorification of Nazism that was responsible for the Holocaust, genocide of the Soviet people, and other crimes of World War 2.
International Information Security
Claims of the US Mission that in 2021 it allegedly helped to promote “US-initiated” framework for responsible behavior of states in cyberspace are rather far-fetched, to say the least. It is not the United States, but Russia that first offered to elaborate and endorse such framework back in 1998, when we raised this issue at the General Assembly, and has promoted it for more than 20 years since then. The United States, on the contrary, was speaking out against it until recently. In particular, the United States opposed the establishment of an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on international information security and voted against Russia-initiated resolution that proposed to create such taskforce. But once it became clear that the global majority supported the Russian initiatives, our American colleagues started to “change on the go”. Now they have reached the point where they take credit for somebody else’s accomplishments.
As for the US “support” for the work of the OEWG, suffice it to say that the US delegation openly supported a West-inspired (with Great Britain at the helm) provocation that was launched to undermine meaningful discussions at the OEWG on some administrative pretext.
What appears even more hypocritical is the mentioning of Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime as another “merit” of American diplomacy. As was the case with OEWG on international information security, the United States was opposed to establishing the Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime. From the very beginning they tried to prevent adoption of Russia-initiated resolution creating the Committee. Until this moment, the US delegation has been using every pretext to sabotage the elaboration of a universal concept on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes.
A vivid example of US destructive stance is Washington-propelled hysteria around Ukraine, where instead of dialogue and search for common ground we have to deal with a biased and far-from-reality position.
Instead of expressing support for Security Council resolution 2202 that anchored the Minsk package as the international legal basis for settlement and charged Kiev with a number of obligations that the latter has been doing its utmost to evade for the past seven years, Americans prefer to spread blatant lies.
The United States cultivates Russophobia among its people and the people of like-minded states, keeps talking about the build-up of Russian troops as almost the root cause of all problems. Yet when saying this, the United States forgets to mention that it is Russian forces deployed at the Russian territory. This stands in contrast with American and NATO arms and countless advisers that Ukraine and other states in the vicinity of Russian borders are swarming with. By the same token, there is no explanation as to what the US navy is doing close to the Russian shores, escalating tension in the Black Sea region.
The above examples constitute only a part of the stream of half-truth, manipulations and double standards that we encounter when considering the activity of the United States at the United Nations and at the global stage in general. We can give but one piece of advice: any “facts”, especially those provided by the United States, need to be verified. But the latter usually fail the verification.
The unilateral American approach that we have seen plenty of this past year, challenges the established norms and processes of the UN system and ultimately encourages aggressive imposing of a unilateral world order that only the United States and its allies benefit from.
We cannot agree to this logic. We trust, however, that the colleagues will realize the benefits of partnership as compared to confrontation, and see how this partnership can be used to solve common problems while accounting for the interests of each other. But to achieve this, they will need to engage in a dialogue instead of a monologue. It seems though that our American colleagues are not accustomed to this form of diplomatic communication.