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Russia notifies UN that it will not sign decisions of Istanbul humanitarian summit

May 13, 2016, 8:42 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS

Moscow says the UN Secretariat has not prepared the forum properly ignoring Moscow’s views

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UNITED NATIONS, May 13. /TASS/. Russia will not support the commitments to be adopted at the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23-24, as it believes that the UN Secretariat has not prepared the forum properly ignoring Moscow’s views, says a letter of the Russian delegation circulated among the UN member-countries. A copy of this document was obtained by TASS on Thursday.

In this letter, Russia expressed strong dissatisfaction with the actions of the secretariat which "was unable to organize an inclusive, based on consultations and open process of preparations" for the summit "and left the member-countries on the roadside to Istanbul." The Russian delegation noted that since the announcement of the summit in 2014 it had no real opportunity to make sure that its stance is taken into account "in the set of key commitments, which now represent the main result of the summit."

Imposed obligations

The summit’s key commitments include five points, including prevention and suppression of conflicts, compliance with international humanitarian law during conflicts, rendering assistance to all without exception, risk reduction and improvement of funding. Russia’s letter emphasizes that these obligations "are imposed as an ultimatum without an opportunity for member-countries to reflect their own positions and observations." Attempts to do this during press briefings that have been held since the beginning of this year "were deliberately ignored by the secretariat."

"Considering all these disturbing circumstances, our delegation is not eager to endorse any one of the commitments recently presented to the participants in the summit. While reaffirming our full support and commitment to the guiding principles of humanitarian aid confirmed in Resolution 46/182 of the General Assembly, we reserve our position on all final decisions of the World Humanitarian Summit, including but not excluding all key and individual commitments," the Russian delegation said. Moscow also expressed dissatisfaction with the summit’s overcrowded agenda.

Russia promised to take part in summit

The UN Secretariat has reacted to criticism from Moscow with restraint. According to spokesman for UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric, the summit is the result of three years of consultations, including with the member-countries. He noted that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon believes that Russia will play its role as a key UN member-country.

Spokesperson for the summit’s organizing committee Herve Verhoosel told TASS that Russia had confirmed its participation in the forum, and its delegation would be led by a deputy emergencies minister.

According to him, a report will be prepared following the forum that will be submitted to the General Assembly, so the last word will remain with the UN member-countries. However, the Russian delegation noted in its letter that in the event of "further consideration at the intergovernmental level" the results of the summit "should not be regarded as an internationally agreed position."

More than 6,000 participants

The UN earlier reported that nearly 6,000 participants are expected at the Istanbul summit, including delegations from more than 110 UN member-countries, representatives of non-governmental organizations and private sector companies. According to a TASS correspondent, some world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have confirmed their participation in the forum. At least 50 heads of state and government are expected to come to Istanbul.

Meanwhile, one of the key world’s independent organizations - Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) announced their refusal to take part in the summit on May 5 saying that it turned into "a fig leaf of good intentions" and will not be able to put an end to violations of international law, including those committed by countries.

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