17 October 2017
Moscow: 12:21
London: 10:21

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RUSSIA’S APPROACH TO THE NOTION OF “RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT”

The 2005 World Summit Outcome Document stipulates that each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, while the international community has a responsibility to provide the State with appropriate expert, humanitarian and diplomatic assistance in fulfilment of these responsibilities. When it is necessary, this does not preclude the use of coercive action, should peaceful means be inadequate and a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations. However, such action can be authorised only by the UN SC acting in compliance with Chapter VII of the Charter. Any unilateral actions violating the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in domestic affairs of States will only undermine the international stability and rule of law.

As regards intrastate conflicts, the need to protect civilians must not be used to change regimes by providing external support to one of the opposing sides. As a rule, such actions are not conducive to alleviating the suffering of the peaceful population; on the contrary, they foster violence and can precipitate the country into a full-scale civil war. If one party to the conflict bets on external support it is prone to taking inflexible and intransigent positions. The international community must give every encouragement to an inclusive political dialogue.

Assessment and decision-making on the need for the “timely and decisive action” fall within the competence of the UN SC. Attempts to bypass the Security Council by organising work on parallel tracks, including within the framework of “friends’ groups”, are becoming an alarming trend. This undermines not only the role of the UN SC, which, pursuant to the UN Charter, bears the primary responsibility for international peace and security, but the United Nations in general.

Attempts have been made to turn the so-called “Libyan model” into a legal precedent applicable to acute intrastate conflicts. It is obvious that in implementing the UN SC Resolution 1973 NATO went far beyond the mandate to protect civilians and, in effect, provided military support to one of the parties to the conflict. Civil facilities were bombed, third countries’ vessels were searched on high seas without prior notice to the UN SC, military and military-technical assistance was provided to the insurgents in defiance of the embargo introduced by the Security Council. In the light of the above, in future Russia will not approve UN SC Resolutions sanctioning forceful intervention and hostilities without thorough consideration of the parameters of their implementation. Those must not be cartes blanches.

In addition, the international community must not shy away from the question of civilians’ fate after the regime accused of gross violations of human rights is overthrown. In reality, their fate often remains miserable. For example, in Libya, mass tortures, killings, unlawful detentions and other outrageous violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms have been registered against the background of weak government control of the situation.