REVIEW: Article

Russia and the United Nations

Russia is strongly committed to strengthening the role of the United Nations (UN) and to creating a UN-based global system addressing modern threats and challenges.

Of crucial importance is the cooperation of all states in the fight against international terrorism. All of us will have to jointly determine further steps to enhance the counterterrorist coalition on the firm basis of international law. And the contribution of Russia and the United States (US) to this work is truly unique.

High on the agenda is the task of improving the efficiency of preventive and peacekeeping activities of the UN in strict compliance with the UN Charter and Security Council Resolutions. On issues of disarmament and enhancement of strategic stability in a broad sense, full engagement of the multilateral mechanisms of the UN is necessary to avoid a vacuum in international law on disarmament issues, strengthen nonproliferation regimes and avert an arms race in outer space. A stronger UN with a leading role in prevention and resolution of crises and military conflicts, i.e. in the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Africa, is prerequisite to normal life and lasting stability in those troublesome regions.

Another important issue that figures prominently on the UN agenda is the resolution of pressing social and economic problems of today’s world.

Russia’s vision of the avenues to a stronger leading role for the UN in international affairs was presented by Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov on September 13, 2002, at the 57th UN General Assembly. I hope that the following transcript of his speech (see next page) will help a large number of interested readers of The Ambassadors REVIEW, especially those who deal with international issues, to get a better understanding of the goals and motives that guide the Russian Federation in its policy within the UN and in its joint efforts with UN partners to create a new and safer world.


Statement at the General Debate at the 57th Session

of the United Nations General Assembly


Igor S. Ivanov

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Exactly one year has passed since the tragic events in the United States of America on September 11, 2001, that shocked the world by the magnitude and brutality of the global threat of international terrorism.

It has been a year since the world began to realize in reality the challenges that mankind faced upon entering the 21st century.

It has been a year since the international community united and launched its resolute actions against terrorism.Paying tribute to all the victims of terrorism that left its bloody trail in various parts of the planet, we should sum up the first results of our common struggle against terrorism and, most importantly, outline our objectives in strengthening the foundations of international security and stability.

The most important outcome is the unprecedented unification of states since World War II to achieve common objectives. A broad international antiterrorist coalition has been formed and is actively functioning. It already demonstrated its efficiency in Afghanistan that international terrorists of various stripes had turned into their lair. Our common objective is not only to preserve the experience of interaction gained in the framework of this coalition and avoiding such unilateral actions that could undermine it but also to turn the antiterrorist alliance into a support structure of an effective security and cooperation system of the new millennium.

The United Nations (UN) should undoubtedly be the central element of such a structure. Indeed, the UN is called upon to further guarantee that the efforts of the international community in its struggle against new threats and challenges rest on the solid basis of international law.

We should recognize, and the past year was quite instructive in this sense, that it is long and hard work that the future keeps in store for us. With a common agreement on the core issues of world order, we shall only succeed in erecting insurmountable obstacles in the way of fanatics and extremists spreading death and destruction. In this context, the role of the United Nations seems to be irreplaceable.

It is of critical importance that the process of the implementation of the fundamental antiterrorist Resolution 1373 of the United Nations Security Council be set in motion. This Resolution is obligatory for all states and we should seek its unconditional implementation.

The priority task in combating terrorism consists in strengthening the international legal framework. First of all, a genuine universal character of the existing antiterrorist conventions should be secured.

Having ratified the 1999 Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, Russia is completing the process of accession to the above international documents.

At the same time, we are seriously concerned over the absence of real progress in negotiating a comprehensive convention on combating terrorism and a convention on suppressing the acts of nuclear terrorism. The known differences in a number of states’ approaches to the content of these documents are quite reconcilable. They should not overshadow the task of laying a legal basis for counteracting terrorism in all its manifestations, which is urgent. A basis would correspond to contemporary realities. Russia will continue its resolute efforts to achieve this goal.

The protection of rights and freedoms of its citizens is an obligation for any state. The most important of them is the right to life. But it is the life of an ordinary person that terrorists threaten. Each year new names appear on the lists of victims. The international community should no longer tolerate it. It is our duty to guarantee our citizens the right to a reliable protection against terrorism.

This objective can only be attained if all states agree upon a set of specific measures under the United Nations aegis. There is a need to work out an effective Code of Protection of Human Rights against Terrorism aimed at the following:

  • Prevention and suppression of acts of terrorism;
  • Counteraction to the financing of terrorism;
  • Criminal prosecution of persons who have committed acts of terrorism or are otherwise involved in them;
  • Provision for inevitable responsibility and punishment of such persons;
  • Assistance to terrorism victims in particular in the form of financial assistance, their social and psychological rehabilitation and reintegration into society;
  • Effective international cooperation to attain the above objectives.

Some of these measures are already being discussed by the international community in particular within these walls. Other measures require consideration in a broader context. However, first and foremost, we should agree on a single system of values and measures shared by all states.

Concrete decisions and adequate resources will also be needed if we want this Code effective rather than just declarative.

The results of the struggle against terrorism will be tangible only if our actions are harmonized at all levels—global, regional and national. The mechanisms of antiterrorist cooperation, including the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization aimed at preventing the spread of terrorism in Central Asia, are gaining momentum and can serve as an illustration. An important positive potential underlies a new quality of Russia’s partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. It will make it possible to expand our equitable interaction to resolve the most pressing matters. The antiterrorist sphere is part and parcel of our continued dialogue and cooperation with leading countries of the world, including the United States (US), China, India, and the European Union member states. We are confident that the development of such a multi-level interaction promotes a climate of trust, security and cooperation in all parts of the globe.

The stability and credibility of an emerging international system of the 21st century is subject to the maintenance and strengthening of its strategic stability. This fundamental goal was promoted by the signing of the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions by the Presidents of Russia and the United States at their May meeting in Moscow. This has become a specific contribution by the leading nuclear powers to the nuclear disarmament process.

Another most important area is ensuring nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The very risk of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons or their components falling into hands of irresponsible people and terrorists multiplies the destructive potential of international terrorism. Therefore, the efforts to strengthen the regimes of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles should be enhanced.

Acting jointly and responsibly, we have already achieved a lot. And when we speak about the establishment of new regimes of the WMD nonproliferation and arms control, we by no means renounce the existing regimes and agreements. They are our common protective mechanism—and a very reliable and time-tested one. Unjustified removal of the key elements of the international legal framework of nonproliferation can aggravate the international military and strategic situation and undermine global security.

Furthermore, we should “universalize” the most important agreements on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and on a comprehensive nuclear test ban. The missile sphere needs a sustainable negotiating process aimed at concluding an international arrangement on a global regime of missile and missile technology nonproliferation.

The prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space forms an integral part of the nonproliferation process. Together with a number of our partners we suggest that a comprehensive agreement be worked out aimed at preserving outer space as a zone free from any kind of weapons. We are confident that this proposal serves the interests of all states and expect that it will enjoy wide support.

Since its establishment, the United Nations has been engaged in the settlement of regional conflicts. Those so-called local problems have long turned into main threats to international stability. Terrorism and political extremism, economic and social de-gradation are their customary companions. Certainly, the primary responsibility in any settlement rests with the relevant parties but multilateral mechanisms have also repeatedly demonstrated their effectiveness in the restoration of peace and concord. A tangible progress made with the UN’s visible involvement in the post-Taliban development of Afghanistan is one of our common accomplishments. We can add to this the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of major practical decisions in support of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East and the overcoming of crises in a number of African countries.

And yet we are still far from a radical decrease in the number and intensity of armed conflicts. Hard work requiring great human as well as material and financial resources is awaiting us. But the most important here is the presence of a strong political will to implement the provisions of the United Nations Charter pertaining to the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Experience shows that no matter how complex international crises and conflicts may be and whatever challenges and threats they may be fraught with, they can be settled with the aid of United Nations instruments and on the basis of international law. This fully applies to the situation around Iraq, which has long required political settlement in strict compliance with the Security Council resolutions.

The entire international community benefits from a steady enhancement of the leading role of our Organization in peacemaking. We cannot relax our attention to this task. Our common success depends on our joint efforts and rapid response capabilities. Russia will continue to increase its contribution to the peacemaking activities under the United Nations aegis.

At all times and throughout the world, terrorism and extremism have tried to justify themselves with continuous social and economic instability and poverty. While recognizing the existence of these serious problems, we should state most resolutely that terrorism does not and will not have any justification. At the same time, the creation of a sustainable and fair world financial and economic structure would, certainly, help combat many dangerous challenges to mankind. The latest major international fora—the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, the World Food Summit in Rome and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg— adopted decisions designed to uproot the causes of the most threatening disproportions in the world. The next step is to implement the agreements we have reached.

Equally sweeping are the tasks that face us in the field of environmental protection. Natural disasters that befell this summer on many regions of our planet have demonstrated again that the solution of environmental issues cannot be put off unless we want to endanger the very survival of future generations. This sphere also depends on multilateral efforts excluding the egoism of individual states. The initiative of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on holding in autumn 2003 a World Conference on Climate Change in Moscow is designed to coordinate our efforts in this field.

A year ago, the Russian Federation called on the international community from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly to create a Global System of Counteraction to Present-Day Threats and Challenges that would be aimed at tackling real issues in the sphere of security and meeting vital interests of each and every state—a system that would provide for long-term international stability and sustainable development.

To be efficient, such a system needs a generally recognized coordinating center capable of rallying the international community. And we do have such a center—the United Nations with its unique legitimacy, universality and experience. Our common task is to unite around the United Nations to provide the necessary potential and resources and to develop as much as possible the internal reserves.

Today, we can state with satisfaction that the global system is already evolving and the commencement of this process is largely successful. We suggest that an additional impetus be given to this process and a resolution to encourage a most prompt creation of a Global System of Counteraction to Present-Day Threats and Challenges be adopted at this session of the General Assembly. By doing so, we will direct all states towards joint elaboration of its general shape and parameters—more so because some of its parameters are already visible.

It is apparent that the system to be created must be:

  • Global, as modern challenges in the context of globalization pose a universal threat, and should be addressed at the global level.
  • Comprehensive in scope, as every modern threat bears a huge destructive potential and all such problems without exceptions should be embraced by the system.
  • Holistic in approach, as quite often new threats and challenges are directly related.
  • Universal in participation, as modern threats are targeted at the security and well-being of every member of the international community.

And, finally, the system should become a model of international rule of law, as its power will be built on principles and regulations of international law, the United Nations Charter above all.

We bear grave responsibility to future generations. The model of the world order we will establish is destined to influence the life on our planet for decades. As for Russia, we have made our choice. A choice in favor of a democratic multi-polar world order that would guarantee sustainable development and equal security for all states. A world order formed on the basis of the extensive structure of multilateral institutions integrated within the framework of the United Nations.

We hope that the decisions of this General Assembly session will mark an important stage of this process.*

* Editor’s Note: His Excellency Igor S. Ivanov delivered this statement at the General Debate at the 57th United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2002.

Issue Date


Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States of America

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation