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UN veto power key guarantor of restraint, counterbalance — Russia FM

September 14, 2015, 11:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"The veto power that is often criticized is in fact the key guarantor to ensure restraints and counterbalances needed for any democratic system," the minister said
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

©  Oksana Toskic/TASS

MOSCOW, September 14. /TASS/. The UN Security Council’s power of veto that often faces criticism is the main guarantor of the system of restraints and counterbalances, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman for his TV film "United Nations - 70 years" from the "Formula of Power" series.

"The veto power that is often criticized is in fact the key guarantor to ensure restraints and counterbalances needed for any democratic system," the minister said.

"Attempts to provoke situations falling under the use of veto power for some dirty political purposes are a different matter. This happened some times when our western partners submitted resolutions with absolutely no practical meaning, like the anniversary of the events in Srebrenica," Lavrov said.

He said the UN Security Council should not take this or that side of the conflict that occurred 20 years ago.

"The UN Security Council should be neither dragged into the criminal investigation of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash," Lavrov said. "I will not go into these details. Most importantly, the UN Security Council remains feasible and capable of playing a central role in the resolution of international crises in the future."

Reform of UN Security Council requires compromise in approaches

According to the minister, reforms of the UN Security Council (UN SC) require a compromise between two as yet irreconcilable approaches to ways of the organisation's extension.

Lavrov said the process of reforming the UN Security Council began back in 1993 with the Organisation’s resolution adopted by the General Assembly. The document, he said, "was aimed at consultations to achieve an acceptable result for fair geographic representation of all the regions, in order to raise effectiveness of that body, and so forth."

"That document read about a reform of the UN SC, which included its extension," the minister said. "The issue of how to expand it - by permanent or non-permanent members, or by adding participants in the process to either category - is a subject of very sharp debates."

"The entire process still cannot reach the finish line due to irreconcilable contradictions between two groups of countries and due to the attempt to claim the "Five" permanent members fail to come to common grounds," the foreign minister said.

"The major problem is that we have two irreconcilable positions, where one group of countries insists absolutely on new permanent seats, while the other is categorically against new permanent seats in favour of adding new non-permanent members," he said adding both groups are for expanding of the UN SC.

India and Brazil seek the status of permanent members.

"We consider them deserving, very strong competitors," Lavrov said. "The Group of Four, which has made up a rather big company - in support of its claims and requests - is saying: "Let’s vote." The UN Charter says about the necessary two-thirds of the UN General Assembly."

He said, the other group of countries claims their union is for the interests of a consensus. Those countries are Italy, Mexico, Scandinavian countries, Spain, a few Asian countries, including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and many Latin American countries.

"They call unwise the initiative to have new permanent members, as once again several countries will take seats while the rest will be elected to the UN SC more rarely; they say in that case something which could have been organised on rotation basis will be taken by new permanent members," the Russian foreign minister said. "We need a compromise here."

On ideas to introduce semi-permanent members at UN SC

The top diplomat recalled that certain countries have been promoting ideas of introducing semi-permanent members at the UN Security Council with the right to be elected immediately.

"Many sensible members of the world community, and we as well, stand on these positions and promote the idea that a compromise [on the reform of the UN SC] should be sought," Lavrov said. "If there are such opposing stances, let’s find something between. Some countries have ideas suggesting that the third category of members should be intoduced and they are to be neither permanent nor non-permanent, but semi-permanent."

Lavrov said that non-permanent members are elected for a two-year period, without the right to be immediately re-elected after that.

"Proposals were coming that a new category of member countries should be established and that such counties should enjoy the right to be elected for a longer period - eight years - and some even speak about ten years, with the right of immediate re-election, which actually means that due to well-done work with partners, a candidate may be presented at the UN Security Council on a permanent basis," he said.

"I do not say that it is the decision which must be promoted now but it is an indication of what people think about bridging uncompromising positions," the Russian foreign minister said.

Russia calls for electing East-European representative next Secretary General of UN

The top diplomat also commented on Russia's position as to who should become the next secretary general of the Uited Nations.

"If we talk about election of the next Secretary General, I’d like to stress our profound respect for Ban Ki-moon, whom we have warm friendly relations with and who has visited Russia more than once and has met many times with President Vladimir Putin," Lavrov said.

"But Secretary General Ban rounds up his second term of office next year and, under the provisions of the UN Charter, he cannot be re-elected anymore," he said.

""The issue arises then of ensuring the very same universality and fairness with regard to the geographic principle of choosing the heads of the Secretariat," Lavrov said. While representatives of Western Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America have occupied the post more than once, the East-European region group that exists in the UN since the Soviet era has never been represented officially, he added.

Lavrov recalled that five regional groups had been set up at the UN - Asian, Latin American, West-European (which also includes the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand), and East-European.

"These groups were conceived initially for a more efficient and rational election of the UN governing agencies that have a limited staff, not for coordination of political issues," he said.

"There are many structures where elections should be made among the existing members of the UN," Lavrov said. "To assure a more or less equal representation of all the regions in the economic and human rights agencies, these groups were set up and they coordinate the candidacies for the Security Council, ECOSOS, and the Human Rights Council."

"When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organization disintegrated, the East-European group was retained at the UN because it is nonpolitical and is necessary for organizing elections of this kind," he said.

Lavrov indicated that the East-European group had formulated a common opinion and it had received support from Russia and all other countries regardless of their membership or non-membership of NATO.

"They signed a letter that was circulated among all members of the UN," he said. "It stressed our conviction that a representative of Eastern Europe was to become the next Secretary General. Now there are ten candidates, and some of them are women. They were nominated by separate countries."

Lavrov said the procedures of electing the Secretary General and appointing the candidates were flexible enough and he did not rule out the East-European group would put up several candidates for voting at the General Assembly.

"Quite possibly, some of the ten candidates will drop off the list in the course of the continuing consultations there’ll be surely more than one candidate," Lavrov said.

"Given the current situation, I think the most probable outcome of a review of the list of candidates by the Security Council will be the submitting of several candidates to the General Assembly," he said.

"There was always one candidate because the Security Council would filter out other candidates through its procedures but since I know the aspirants who are already known this time, I just don’t see how it could be possible to leave just one of them without offending all the highly dignified other candidates," Lavrov said.

UN Secretariat's secrets from Security Council unacceptable

Lavrov stressed that the Secretariat of the United Nations Organisation should not have secrets from representatives of the Security Council (SC).

"Speaking about the UN secretary-general, there first of all should be criteria like professionalism and experience," the foreign minister said in response to a question about potential candidates for the position. "As the UN is very ramified, it is not easy at all to take the position without knowing the organisation’s system. And, of course, it is important to mind the principles of the UN universalism, which means a necessary rotation, though it is not mentioned in the Charter."

"The Charter says only that the UN secretary-general as a key administrative official should provide for work of the organisation, has the right to consult with the UN inter-governmental bodies and to report own ideas, including those on problems of peace and security, to the UN Security Council," Lavrov said. "Quite many functions. They have been worded in detail, in large-scale and they offer enough freedom of action."

"By the way, it would be good to raise the general level of the Secretariat’s reporting to inter-governmental bodies, as sometimes transparency is lacking," the Russian foreign minister said. "I do realise that many things are of confidential character, but at the UN SC everyone should be honest, and the Secretariat should not have any secrets from the organisation."

UN’s legitimacy is unique

Lavrov noted that the year of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Organisation requires not only analysing the lessons of the time, but also views in future.

"First of all, UN is an organisation of unique legitimacy, it is the only mechanism of international cooperation, which uses the firm basis of the international law and which covers entirely all spheres of human activities: military, political, security, settlement of conflicts, development of economic, humanitarian cooperation, as well as another extremely important function - modernisation of the international law. A special committee is involved in it," the minister said.

The 70th anniversary of UN is a date "which requires analysing not only what has been done or the lessons to be learned over the decades, but also the views in future."

The lessons are clear to all, he said.

"The UN was born on the ashes of World War II, which was the biggest bloodshed in the history of humanity, and nothing of the kind should happen ever again," he said. "That was exactly the reason for establishing the Organisation. The Soviet Union, one of the three most active participants in formation of this approach, was involved in establishment of the Organisation."

"As the Belavezha Accords were signed, the Soviet Russian Federation became Russia, and one of the first and major steps of its diplomacy was to notify Russia is the successor of the Soviet Union as far as all the obligations under the United Nation’s Charter," Lavrov said. "We were fully supported in this by the counterparts in the CIS, which was only emerging then, and we also received support from all members of the international community."

"Thus, the continuing permanent membership at the UN Security Council means Russia is considered by everyone as a country which has established the UN," Lavrov said.

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