This article appears in the March 26, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Comments on Russia-U.S. Relations and the UN
Alexey Boguslavskiy is the First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in New York. He delivered this speech on March 20, 2021 to Panel 2 of the Schiller Institute conference, “The World at a Crossroads—Two Months into the Biden Administration.” Subheads have been added.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to participate in the conference of the Schiller Institute.
To begin with, I would like to provide several comments on the very topic of the conference of the two months of the Biden Administration. I think at least now it’s difficult to draw any conclusions over this period of time. In foreign policy and even in domestic policies, what is happening now is not a surprise to anyone. In general, President Biden began by fulfilling his campaign promises. The U.S. has returned to the [Paris] Climate Agreement, it took rather cautious steps in the direction of Iran. However, it’s probably too early to talk about the prospects of the U.S.’ early return to the nuclear deal. As for Syria, the Middle East, and the D.P.R.K. [North Korea], I think there is nothing much known yet.
Russia Is Ready for a Constructive Dialogue with the U.S.
Unfortunately, what remains constant for now, is rather unfriendly rhetoric towards Russia. We all heard about what the American President said about Russian President, literally this week. I think from the point of view of the norms of political ethics, it is somewhere beyond reasonable. At the same time, the Russian leadership does not feel such deep emotions about the United States. We are ready for a constructive dialogue on the issues, where it is possible, and I would like to underscore, where it is needed. That is why we are prioritizing our cooperation in the United Nations.
In terms of the daily routine of the UN Security Council, I can say that nothing concrete has changed over the past two months—well, except for the American Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In general, it must be said that here in the UN, on most of the political issues, we can reach a consensus with others. Yes, there are several issues that divide us. They are very well known to the whole world, but it is only a very small fraction of issues that have been discussed here in the United Nations.
In general, lately, many experts or political analysts like to talk about cracks in multilateralism. In our opinion, it is too early to worry, since in fact, it has not yet been born. We are only in the early stages of its creation. It may take years and maybe decades for true multilateralism to prevail on our planet. New centers of power, political and economic, are only gaining their independent voice. The United Nations is at the center of these efforts.
Sure, like principles that lay in the foundation of the United Nations, and that I find in the UN Charter sound even more relevant as compared to the time when the United Nations was created 75 years ago: Non-interference in internal affairs; peaceful settlement of disputes; respect for the right of people to independently determine their future. Hardly anyone can abandon these principles. And there is no alternative to the UN itself. There is no other such global and universal platform, where issues of war and peace, social economic development, protection of human rights, and many other important topics for all the countries of the world have been discussed.
The global problems that the UN is dealing with on a daily basis, like international terrorism, drug trafficking, and cybercrime, climate change, have been supplemented this year with this new, dangerous spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It should be admitted that it has caught everyone, both states and international structures and organizations by surprise. But despite all the difficulties, the main international structure seems to have passed this stress test quite successfully.
Of course, the United Nations is not perfect, but because the world itself is not perfect. It is becoming more and more difficult to respond to diversified global problems from year to year. All the more, when some international players continue to claim their dominance or conceit of their values to be universal.
Unfortunately, some countries, and quite powerful countries are trying to replace our cooperation in the world organization, by introducing concepts like a “rules-based world order.” It is creating coalitions of interest to replace real and genuine international cooperation, and it’s not good. The world is tired of dividing lines, divisions into friends and foes. In the face of the pandemic that has hit our planet, people are demanding increased comprehensive mutual assistance and cooperation.
Reforms for the United Nations
I think, in other words, the goals formulated 75 years ago when the United Nations was created, are becoming more and more relevant. In parallel, of course, we must think about the reforms of existing institutions. Here, the United Nations is the very organization in need of constant renewal. Its most important body, the Security Council, of course, also needs reforming. Increasing the representation of the developing countries of the world, eliminating the imbalances means the collective West ensures its dominance should go hand-in-hand with maintaining efficiency and the ability to quickly respond to emerging challenges. The United Nations remains the uncontested universal global forum for the continuous open and honest dialogue, in order to create a more sustainable and just architecture of international relations.
I would like to reassure you that this understanding is shared by the vast majority of the countries of the world. Our faith in the future mission of the United Nations, in the future of its service for the whole of humanity is not weakening.
In conclusion, I’d like to recall what President John Quincy Adams said almost 200 years ago. It was kind of a warning that America should not go abroad in search of monsters to be destroyed. I think if this promise will be fulfilled, and if it will stop doing so, the whole world will probably become more secure and safe. Thank you.