Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speech during a UN Security Council high-level summit titled, “Maintenance of international peace and security: Global governance post-COVID-19” Moscow, September 24, 2020
Mr Chairman, heads of state, Mr UN Secretary General, Mr Chairperson of the African Union Commission, colleagues, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to President of the Republic of Niger, His Excellency Mr Mahamadou Issoufou, for hosting today’s UN Security Council debate on the highly important issue of global governance in the post-pandemic era.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a catalyst for transforming international relations. Not only is the strength of states and integration associations being tested, but global governance mechanisms, primarily the UN, are being tested as well. It is important to learn the lesson of current developments in a timely fashion and draw the proper conclusions in order to ensure a peaceful, secure and stable future for humankind.
The interdependence and interconnectedness of all states without exception in all spheres of public life is the most important thing that the crisis has brought to light. Russia has long drawn attention to the transborder nature of modern threats, including international terrorism, the risk of uncontrolled proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cybercrime, drug trafficking and much more. Now these threats can be aggravated by pandemics like the current one, our calls for the joint development of responses to global challenges have become even more important.
This year's developments have shown that no one can simply fence themselves off from such threats. The coronavirus infection has affected everyone, which means that we need to deal with its aftereffects together as well and put aside our fleeting differences.
Unfortunately, our common misfortune has failed to smooth out the differences between some states. On the contrary, it has exacerbated many of them. The very moments of crisis that we observed in international relations earlier have resurfaced. A number of countries are increasingly tempted to look abroad to find those who are responsible for their problems at home. There are obvious attempts by individual states to use the current situation to promote self-serving and fleeting interests and to settle scores with unwanted governments or geopolitical rivals.
In spite of all this, the practice of imposing unilateral, illegitimate sanctions persists, which undermines the authority and prerogatives of the UN Security Council. We have repeatedly drawn attention to the need to lift restrictions which, in the context of the pandemic, affect vulnerable groups and limit their access to food and healthcare. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also called for suspending these measures in the current situation. We strongly support his initiative.
President Putin’s proposal to introduce “green corridors” that are free of sanctions and trade wars, which he advanced at the April G20 summit, remains on the table. Regrettably, the states that use the policies of illegal sanctions continue to turn a deaf ear to our reasoning and, even more regrettable, to the basic needs of ordinary people all over the world.
I’m firmly convinced that international efforts to overcome the crisis must be coordinated and carried out with the UN playing the central coordinating role. It remains the universal and single platform for dialogue. Its importance in the global architecture amid the pandemic has only increased.
In this regard, we consider the frequent attacks on the UN system in general and its specialised agencies to be absolutely unjustified. This is primarily true of the World Health Organisation. According to the overwhelming majority of countries, the WHO has acted professionally at all the stages of the crisis and has taken timely and effective proactive steps in close contact with all member states.
Of course, the international healthcare system’s capacity needs to be strengthened and taken to a new level. Russia has already made a significant contribution to this work as the first country in the world to develop and approve a coronavirus vaccine, the Sputnik V. We hereby reiterate our willingness to establish epidemiological cooperation with all states and international organisations that might be interested in doing so. The day before yesterday, speaking before the General Assembly, President Vladimir Putin offered free vaccinations to the UN staff. This is in response to our UN colleagues’ request. Russia, as President Vladimir Putin emphasised, could not leave this request without attention. He also suggested organising a videoconference with all countries that are developing and producing a coronavirus vaccine. This proposal remains on the table.
The current pandemic turned out to be a global shift, a black swan, if you will, which has confronted us with a choice: to close down and blame others for our troubles, or to emerge from the crisis as a team and join a common effort in the name of a prosperous future for all countries and peoples. Despite the obvious choice, the second path requires strong political will and strategic thinking.
We believe this is worth starting through a candid and open dialogue, primarily between the permanent members of the Security Council who, under the UN Charter, bear special responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Russia came up with an initiative to convene a summit of the Group of Five with this goal in mind, which President Putin mentioned in his speech yesterday before the General Assembly. An in-person discussion between the leaders of the principles underlying state-to-state interaction, and ways to overcome the most pressing problems of humankind would be an important step towards consolidating collective principles in international affairs and restoring global strategic stability during the post-pandemic period. We strongly believe that this meeting should be held as soon as possible, the international epidemiological situation permitting.
It is important to reinforce existing communication formats based on the principles of equality, cooperation and consensus including the G20, BRICS and the SCO. We are convinced that the organisations that provide flexible responses to emerging challenges without detriment to the UN-centered nature of the international architecture hold the future.
In October, Russia will chair the UN Security Council. We will do our best to ensure well-coordinated and effective work in this main UN body based on the constructive interaction of its members and relying on international law, primarily, the UN Charter’s goals and principles.
Once again, I would like to thank the Nigerien chairmanship for this highly constructive initiative.