Maintenance of international peace and security - Security Council, 9167th Meeting

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26-Oct-2022 01:39:17
Member States must respect exclusively international character of Secretary-General, Secretariat staff responsibilities, legal affairs chief tells Security Council.

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Speaker for Moscow Disputes Western States’ Requested Investigation as to Whether Russian Federation Violated Council Resolution 2231 (2015)

The United Nations Secretary-General and Secretariat staff are international officials responsible only to the Organization and must not seek or receive instructions from any Government, the Security Council heard today, as the Russian Federation took issue with the request of several delegations, including the United States, for an investigation into whether the Russian Federation violated Council resolution 2231 (2015).

Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, briefed members on Article 100 of the United Nations Charter, explaining obligations on the part of Member States, namely, to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff. It is only natural that Member States should wish to exercise as much influence as they can over the activities of the Organization, including its Secretariat, he said, adding: “I myself frequently receive visits from Ambassadors who advance a particular view of the law and try to convince me that it is correct”.

Turning to resolution 2231 (2015), he said the Secretariat takes note of all information brought to its attention by Member States to ascertain and assess its relevance to the discharge of its mandates. He underscored a relevant note (document S/2016/44), which had anticipated that a forthcoming report would produce findings and recommendations and that the Council would meet informally prior to the public release of the report to review them. The Secretary-General duly acted on those requests and the Security Council Affairs Division has prepared the reports, he said, with the most recent and thirteenth report issued on 23 June. He added that the Secretary-General had not received any request, pursuant to the note or otherwise, that supplements or modifies the nature and scope of the Division’s work in preparing the Secretary-General’s six-monthly reports to the Council.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that his country did not convene the meeting to discuss the implementation of Council resolution 2231 (2015). Actions in question concern documented attempts by the United States, United Kingdom and France, accompanied by Germany — through letters on 21 October 2022 to the Council President — to deliver individual instructions to the Secretariat, in violation of Article 100 of the Charter. The two letters provide documented evidence that the Member States are violating paragraph 2 of the Charter, which requires them to respect the international character of Secretariat’s duties and to not try to exert influence on its staff in the discharge of their duties, he said. He disputed the legitimacy of the request by some Member States for an investigation, calling such action by Western colleagues exceedingly dangerous.

The representative of the United States emphasized that his country and other Council members had not given instructions to, but rather requested the Secretary-General to take action. Pointing out that in August, the Russian Federation had requested that the Secretary-General investigate killings at a prison in eastern Ukraine, to which the Secretary-General decided to conduct a fact-finding mission, he emphasized that “such requests for investigations are common”. Regarding resolution 2231 (2015), he stressed that it is well established and is within the authority of the Secretary-General to investigate allegations of violations, stressing that acceding to Moscow's demand that the Secretariat not carry out its mandate would be extremely problematic.

Iran’s delegate said that any misuse of the function described in note S/2016/44 to conduct a so-called investigation would be illegal and in clear violation of the Secretariat's mandate. Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Iran has maintained a position of active neutrality. “Iran has never provided the parties with weapons for use in the Ukraine conflict,” he stressed, rejecting all “unfounded” allegations made against his country.

The speaker for the United Arab Emirates stressed that the independence of the Secretariat is necessary for the proper discharging of its duties. “There cannot be sovereign equality of Member States if anyone is able to instruct the Secretariat to act or refrain from acting in a certain manner,” she added.

Ukraine’s delegate said that the deliberate misuse of the Charter and its provisions to impede an investigation on the implementation of Council resolutions is a clear attempt to pressure the Secretariat. The use of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles in attacks against civilians is a blatant violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Charter and international humanitarian law. She reiterated her call for an immediate investigation and requested the United Nations experts to inspect the recovered unmanned aerial vehicles of Iranian origin.

France’s representative said the facts are clear: Iran provided drones to the Russian Federation, which then used them in the service of its war of aggression, and indiscriminate bombing against civilian targets. “Indeed, it is Russia that is engaging in blackmail by threatening to break ties with the United Nations if the Secretariat does not bend to its will,” he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of India, Albania, Ireland, Ghana, Brazil, Norway, Mexico, China, United Kingdom, Kenya and Gabon.

The Council meeting began at 4:43 p.m. and ended at 6:22 p.m.

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