President Vladimir Putin: Mr General Secretary,
Esteemed heads of state and government, ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy for the opportunity to speak once more in this hall of representatives. But above all, I would like to wish the 58th session of the UN General Assembly fruitful work. Work on successful coordination on the actions of peoples and nations. Work towards goals of peace, security and progress.
These guidelines were laid out in the UN charter by our predecessors. But they, as we see, are still relevant to this day. These goals remain a firm and long-lasting foundation for United Nations activity.
And although the structure and functions of the UN were formed in a fundamentally different international situation, time has only confirmed their universal significance. And tools of the UN are not just in demand today. They, as life has shown, are simply irreplaceable in key situations.
This is directly shown by the following extremely important fact. Despite the major disagreements on methods to resolve the Iraq crisis, the situation is ultimately returning into the legal competence of the UN.
Russia’s position is here consistent and clear: only the direct involvement of the UN in restoration of Iraq will give its people the chance to control their future themselves.
And only with active, practical cooperation, of the UN in economic and civil reconstruction will Iraq truly occupy a new, worthy place in the international community.
It is clear that in recent years the UN has increasingly had to solve fundamentally new tasks. It must deal with different dangers than in the past, but they are no less dangerous.
Three years ago – at the Millennium Summit – I said that the common enemy of the United Nations was terrorism.
Was the voice of Russia heard then, in 2000? Did everyone at the time understand the seriousness of these threats? And were our joint actions to combat them sufficient?
The events of 11 September showed that unfortunately, this was not the case. But the mark of the murderers who committed the terrorist acts in Moscow and New York, in Chechnya and other regions of Russia, against UN workers in Baghdad – this is a mark that Russia has known all too well for a long time. It is identical everywhere. And the fact that the inspirers of terror are easily recognizable – as in the August events this year, and the terrorist acts of previous years – only proves the global nature of this threat.
Yes, now we are listening to one another. And we understand that the UN must become, and it is indeed becoming, a base for a global anti-terrorist coalition.
I would particularly single out the role of the Anti-terrorist committee of the UN Security Council. Terrorism is a challenge to security and the economic future of the planet. And so this Committee should become a real, practical tool for an effective fight against the terrorist threat.
Let me make special mention of the humanitarian activity of the UN. This sphere takes up the lion’s share of the forces, time and funds of the UN – but it does not make front-page headlines very often. Not all citizens of prosperous nations know of its existence. But this function of the UN, essentially, remains fundamental and indispensable.
The UN helps for millions of destitute people on the planet to survive and keep hope – victims of hunger, diseases and conflicts. This work is extremely important. It gives the entire United Nations political and moral authority. And it is here that the interrelation between the moral and political component of international activity can be seen most clearly.
Making use of this opportunity, I would now like to thank all employees of the UN, non-governmental organizations, and of course, the numerous volunteers who take part in this noble work.
Realising how valuable the humanitarian mission of the UN is, Russia sees it as an extremely important political task. We already make a contribution, and we will increase it, to dealing with this task. Over the last three years, Russia wrote off a total of $27.2 billion in debts for developing countries, and now gives them significant rate preferences.
For the first time in many years, Russia, as its economy grows, has become a donor of the UN International food aid programmes. We know about the terror of famine from our own history. We know about it from the situation that took place in our country after the Civil War and the forced collectivization of the 20s and 30s. Famine also became a national tragedy for the peoples of Ukraine. And we consider it our moral and ethical debt to develop our participation in food aid programmes.
Russia also intends to work actively on solving serious economic problems. An important stage here will be the International Conference on climate changes, which opens next week in the Russian capital of Moscow.
We also consider it necessary to create a global system of monitoring and neutralization of dangerous infectious diseases. And we see the activity of the Global Health Foundation as a real sign of international solidarity in the battle against the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Naturally, the UN, like any system with complex organization, requires improvements. But the problems of the UN – both in the past and now – were not only the organisation’s own problems. On many occasions, they were caused and continue to be reflected by contradictions in the system of international relations. And above all, in the system of international law.
For it is far from always true that politicians – including those represented in the UN and its Security Council – have sufficient and effectively working legal tools at their disposal. Tools which make it possible to adequately remove national and religious crises which arise. And in this sense, international law, of course, should be mobile, “living material”, reflecting the realities of the modern world.
I believe that the many processes taking place within the UN are also a sign of the constant changes taking place in the world. And these changes also dictate the logic of development of the UN itself.
UN members know well that all the achievements of the UN are usually our common achievements, and failures are our collective errors. But this knowledge carries a large obligation. And above all, to extremely delicate intervention in the fabric and mechanisms of UN work.
It is clear that behind every such decision there should be not general political rhetoric, not just words about so-called “just” politics. I am certain: every attempt to modernize the tools of the UN should be preceded by a very serious analysis and very precise analysis.
This above all concerns the main, international law tools of the UN. Because observing guarantees of their activity is the only chance to avoid a legal vacuum. And until legal norms are changed, as long as they are in effect, we are obliged to observe them. We are obliged to ensure constant guarantees of security for nations and the planet as a whole.
And finally, we must think together and work out which of the structures and mechanisms of the UN are effective and justified, and which ones have already fulfilled their mission or become unnecessary. And we must remember that many of the possibilities that the UN has long possessed still remain to be developed. There are many resources which we will need to learn to use.
I will make special mention of the issue of increasing the effectiveness of the UN Security Council. I am certain: the extent of still-existing disagreements and the interests of the efficiency of this body dictate to us the necessity of stage-by-stage and cautious work.
We believe that at the current stage, the main guideline remains the widest possible agreement on all aspects of expanding this body. And also the unconditional support of its current high status and the legitimacy of coordinated actions.
For the Security Council, as the UN Charter states, “acts on behalf of the United Nations”. And here, in the Security Council, a concrete mechanism exists of coordinating political will. It is a mechanism to protect the national interests of the most diverse nations. And through this, to protect the interests of the entire international community.
Yes, we often hear that developed countries have a special responsibility for the fate of the world. But this leadership carries a lot of obligations. And above all, to take into account the interests of the international community as a whole.
To be a world power means to always be together with the international community. To be a truly strong, influential nation is to see and solve the problems of peoples that are small in number and economically weak countries.
In this connection, I think it will be useful to increase work within the framework of the UN with regional international structures. This is the direct path to the growth of economic prosperity in various parts of the world. And accordingly, to limit potential threats, and support a general strategic balance in the world.
We welcome the appearance of regional centres on coordination and cooperation in a United Europe. We are in favour of integration processes being consolidated in the Asian-Pacific region. And of course, we are in favour of a growth in authority and effectiveness of work of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Not only Russia is interested in new forms of regional interests. Our partners in the CIS also show their practical aspiration towards this, which incidentally was confirmed at the CIS summit that just took place.
Undoubtedly, we consider the growth of multi-layer processes of interaction with the European Union to be important. And on security issues, to look for new forms of cooperation with the NATO.
We only have the right to oppose current threats to civilization by collective responses, the legitimacy of which are not in doubt. And here we need a systematic view, combining political, and where necessary, military measures. These measures should be coordinated, sensible, and sufficient.
The improvement of the UN’s peace-making mechanisms remains on the UN agenda. The UN should be capable of more efficient and effective deployment of operations on supporting peace, and where necessary on coercion of peace. However, all this should take place in strict accordance with the UN Charter. I must say that Russia is prepared to increase its participation both in operations under the aegis of the UN, and in coalition operations sanctioned by the Security Council.
A serious challenge to modern world is the proliferation of weapons of mass destructions and means of supplying them. And the most dangerous of all is for them to fall into the hands of terrorists.
Methods of eliminating these threats are well-known. They include further universalising existing systems of non-proliferation, consolidation of international inspection tools, introduction of safe technology in nuclear production and energy. In general, nations must do away with excessive arsenals and military programs capable of destroying the military-political balance and provoking an arms race.
Russia believes it is important to avoid militarization of space. We propose the preparation of a universal agreement on this problem, and invite countries with space potential to join our initiative.
Russia’s initiative to form a global system to oppose new threats under the aegis of the UN has already been supported by the General Assembly. I suggest we pass a new resolution during this session – to specify further steps in this direction.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, I would like to remind you: the durable structure of the UN has withstood all the upheavals of the second half of the 20th century. And there have been a great deal of them. It helped to endure all the threats of global confrontations. And particularly importantly, it helped to spread values of human rights. It helped to confirm the principles of mutual respect, and good-neighbourliness between nations.
The main lesson of the “UN school” is that humankind has no other alternative but to build a safer, more just and prosperous world together.
This is our debt to future generations. And in this fundamental task, we will be best aided by tools that have already been tested, such as the activity of the United Nations – an organization that has been making extremely important decisions for the entire world for half a century.
I repeat once more: Russia is certain that the UN’s role in international affairs should remain central. And this is particularly relevant and important in solving conflict situations. This is our choice and our strategic position.
Thank you for your attention.