3 July 202015:18

Выступление Посла А.В.Ерхова на Ежегодном дипломатическом обеде, организованном Институтом стратегической мысли

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Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues,

I’m glad to deliver my humble contribution to the intellectual quest on “Post-pandemic International System” organized by the Institute of Strategic Thinking. Indeed, the media and think-tank analytic reports are now full of predictions and ideas on possible features of the impending “New world order”. As for me, I have an impression that opinions on this issue are so different, and every analyst sees a new international system as something largely corresponding his own views, theories and maybe even dreams. Some predict the decline of international trade in its classic shape, others preach the triumph of democratic values. Sometimes we hear appeals to “multilateralism”, although not many seem to know what this term really means, sometimes – calls to review or modernize the “Nation State” concept.

I do not think anyone can nowdays give us a clear-cut answer to the eternal “Quo vadis” question. There are at least two general trends, but there may be more. The first trend is many countries, leaders, political scientists, politicians, and public figures advocating the need to combine efforts and in every way promote collective approaches to global problems – because isolationism, attempts to keep distance from difficulties and to hide behind national “fences” have failed. And the second trend suggests exactly the opposite: one should better rely upon himself. This means, that if my country is wealthier than many others, I will just take care of my own problems and let the others struggle as they can. Of course, the Russian Federation has always been a supporter of the first approach advocating the need to combine efforts and use collective methods for solving problems.

The biggest danger would probably be, if and when we emerge from this pandemic, still not having any agreement at all on how to act in case of a new global threat, be it a virus or something else. Although – and this is important – we have an infrastructure we inherited from the past and we can use in future. When we need to tackle the danger of new epidemics, we already have platforms for joining efforts – such as the UN, the WHO, and the G20. All of these organizations have already called for pooling efforts and launching a large multilateral programme which would first focuse on developing an antidote to infections and threats, second, on providing assistance to those in need (substantial assistance, for that matter), and, third, on logistic capacities to quickly mobilise the international community, when, God forbid, something like this happens again. This programme has been launched, supported by many members of the world community is designed to run for years.

As long as we are talking about multilateralism, it must be understood that only combining efforts universally would be the right answer, i.e. a system that takes into account the interests of all parties. Over the past couple of years, we have been observing attempts to present multilateralism in a slightly different way: as the right of a certain group of countries to formulate a policy on a particular global issue and then make everyone else adhere to it.

This is how ideas emerge about creating some special ‘interest alliances’ outside existing universal bodies such as the UN, and then present these alliances’ decisions as the ultimate truth, a kind of “rules-based order”. This is the approach that we strongly disagree. We tell our Western, including European, colleagues that existing problems must be resolved fairly and disagreement is not something to be scared of. “Let one hundred flowers florish, let one hundred schools compete”. “Discussio mater veritas est” – truth is born in a dispute.

And when we speak of a collective reason, of a collective search of solutions to common challenges, we inevitably come to the primordial issue of the UN role. Russia has always advocated a careful attitude towards the UN-centric world arrangement that was created after World War II. By the way, this year we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the end of the WWII and the UN creation.

The UN system has a unique legitimacy. It is also unique in embracing the problems that the UN itself, its specialized agencies, funds and programs are tackling. It would certainly be unforgivable to lose the wealth of these multilateral mechanisms that reflect the interests of all the member countries in this global organization.

There is no doubt that nothing lasts forever under the Moon and nobody is perfect, as we all know. So, questions about reform and improving the UN and its agencies’ capacities are always on the agenda. By the way, this applies to the WHO that is continuously accumulating new experience. This also applies to any other international organisation, including the UN Security Council where the issues of reform are considered in a geopolitical context with a view to make it more representative. To achieve this, it is necessary to focus primarily on representation from different nations and groops from all regions – Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Yes, the world is of course bigger than five. This given, it is also much larger than 15, and definitely deeper and wider than 193-such is the number of UN members today. And the biggest question is how their interests can be better ensured, how their voice may be clearly heard by the others. This should be a subject of a thorough study and discussion where everyone’s contribution would be more than welcome.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Only God knows what our future will be. But we all hope it will be happy and prosperous, free from wars and conflicts. And to make it such we all have to join our efforts and – preferably without hidden agendas and second thoughts, but sometimes I strongly doubt it to be possible – to agree. Even if we disagree upon something minor, we have to agree on something much bigger and much more important – on our peoples’ living in peace, respecting each other and each others’ rights, and on the collective modus vivendi, collective mechanisms, ensuring all this.

We can and we must do it. How – this is another question which will be answered, I am sure, by world’s politicians, diplomats, scholars and thinkers, including those present today in this hall. I wish them all success in this noble work.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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