Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the UNSC open debate on exclusion, inequality and conflicts
We welcome your personal participation, Your Excellency, President López Obrador, in today’s event. We thank the UN Secretary-General for his informative briefing. We also thank Madame Lourdes Tibán.
We are grateful to Mexico for drawing attention to the topic of today’s debate. It is indeed very relevant as the social and economic problems facing mankind have worsened significantly. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, such problems have become urgent, exposing vulnerabilities of people. All around the world, even in the richest countries and regions, unequal distribution of wealth leads to growing inequality both within societies and at the international level. The situation is even worse in those states that have never stopped lagging behind, have a difficult colonial past or are unable to rid themselves of their debt burden. When people are saddened by their inability to give their children a better future, it often leads to an exacerbation of ethnic, religious and other divisions, the struggle for power and resources.
When the UNSC considers certain country situations, it should take into account the root causes of conflicts that can be very diverse. However, when the UNSC discusses ways to overcome conflicts, we should focus on using the tools that we have at our disposal: good offices, mediation, peacekeeping and special political missions. Undoubtedly, the mandates of these missions can include certain targets pertaining to early peacebuilding, state institutions capacity-building, including law enforcement bodies, and even quick-impact projects. In addition, urgent humanitarian assistance is invaluable in alleviating the suffering of populations in need and, consequently, in mitigating the severity of conflicts.
During the transition from conflict to stability, the role of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the UN Peacebuilding Fund is also particularly relevant.
However, given the major social and economic development challenges which often exist in conflict and post-conflict states, such measures will amount to no more than applying a band-aid. After all, neither the UNSC nor the PBC possess the necessary tools to facilitate the formation of sustainable and independent economic models, ensure exchange of technologies, infrastructure reinforcements, development of the manufacturing industry, agriculture and healthcare or create jobs.
When we discuss theoretical linkage between human rights, development, peace and security, it is necessary to understand that development alone cannot ensure peace. And peaceful life does not always guarantee development. That is why it is important not only to consider the interlinkages, but also to clearly understand the differences between these processes, as well as which specific UN body or entity is responsible for advancement of each of these areas.
It is this logic that is behind our principled position on the need to adhere to the principle of division of labor between the principal organs of the UN. The issues of sustainable development, combating climate change or protecting human rights should be considered, first and foremost, within specialized platforms that have the necessary tools and expertise as well as universal or broad Member States representation. Primarily, these platforms are, the UNGA and ECOSOC.
The same way of thinking is behind our doubts regarding a number of concepts proposed in the UN Secretary-General’s new initiative Our Common Agenda, where we see a tendency to mix mandates and to create structures that duplicate UN charter bodies. This is fraught with a general decrease in the effectiveness of our global organization.
The idea of using a so-called “multi-stakeholder approach” aimed at gradually equalizing the status of Member States and non-state actors within the UN also raises a number of questions. In this regard, we call for a careful consideration of certain elements of the reform agenda in an intergovernmental format. Moreover, we are firmly convinced that truly effective implementation can only be achieved on the basis of consensus decisions. We regrettably note the unjustified haste of the proposal to adopt decisions in the UNGA as soon as the day after tomorrow without proper consultations and clearly contrary to the goal of achieving consensus.
We do not believe that the goal of the UN Secretary-General is to provoke a rift among Member States and to impose the will and understanding of one group of countries, however influential it can be, on another.
We think that it is crucial for international assistance to states in solving whatever problems they face to be provided exclusively at their request and in close coordination with them while taking into account national priorities and context, including legal, historical, religious and cultural context. Each conflict situation requires its own approach. No automatic formulas can be applied here. We oppose the introduction of certain universal “indicators” of conflicts or crises that could pave the way for various abuses.
Decisions can only be based on the involvement of recipient states and dialogue with them. Departure from these principles, interference in the internal affairs of states and pressure on “undesirable” governments under the pretext of providing them assistance, humanitarian interventions in violation of the international law are unacceptable. And such interventions are often the root causes of the emergence or exacerbation of conflicts. That is something that not all states present here today are ready to discuss frankly. However, if we do not call a spade a spade, the tragic situations in a number of states, primarily those in the Middle East, will repeat themselves. And no attractive concepts can gloss over this fact.
An even more nefarious practice is the use of unlawful unilateral sanctions, threat of their use or the refusal to provide development assistance. These inhuman restrictions, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, limit the states’ ability to overcome its impacts and undermine the efforts of legitimate governments to achieve SDGs which in its turn exacerbates inequality at the intergovernmental level and ultimately affects the well-being of innocent people. The example of Syria, for cooperation with which our American and European colleagues are prepared to punish both companies and countries alike, poignantly demonstrates this trend and casts a shadow on any humanistic discussions about the linkage between peace and development. We call upon all those involved to heed the corresponding appeal of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and to put an end to this harmful practice.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I cannot but mention that our Estonian colleague found nothing better than to use the UNSC platform for yet another stigmatization of Belarus. May I remind you that the refugees on the border with Poland and Lithuania are seeking to get into Europe. They are not seeking to stay in Belarus. So who is creating the crisis, building fences with barbed wire and concentrating troops at the border?
You often recall full respect for the principles of the IHL, but when the time comes to abide by them you engage in responsibility-shifting. I would like to ask you a question: was it Minsk’s failed policy in the Middle East that led to the appearance of Syrian refugees on the border of Poland and Lithuania?
When the same thing was happening on the borders of other countries in the EU or when refugees were coming from other countries to the EU, your wording was quite different. And now you are threatening to impose sanctions. Against who and for what? Because you do not wish to accept the refugees who are seeking to come to the EU? It is time to stop playing the blame game.
Thank you for your attention.