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Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Office and other International Organizations in Geneva Gennady Gatilov during the Webinar "Democracy and human rights: common goals with diversified approaches"

Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Office and other International Organizations in Geneva Gennady Gatilov during the Webinar "Democracy and human rights: common goals with diversified approaches"

 (Geneva, 18 November 2021г.)



Dear Participants,

Thank you for your interest in the today’s discussion.

Together with my distinguished colleague Ambassador Li Song, I am honoured to open this webinar which is organized by the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China and the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation in the context of ongoing discussions on the concepts of democracy and human rights.

We have decided to focus today’s discussion on what unites all countries, contrary to the modern discourse based on the assumption that each State must copy a number of so-called “old”, “leading” or “real” democracies or other definitions used by those who identify themselves as a model for the rest of the world.

Building a real democracy is impossible without cultivating respect for human rights and freedoms in society and establishing an effective system for their promotion and protection. By upholding the fundamental principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, democracy creates an enabling environment for individuals to live freely and autonomously. It institutionally guarantees that the policies and laws created by governments take into account the best interests of people who have entrusted their leaders to govern their States. It is a classical form of the social contract which was first described in Greek and Roman philosophy and then transformed by Rousseau and other famous thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment.

At the same time we firmly believe that universally recognized human rights and freedoms should be implemented taking into account civilizational and cultural characteristics, moral standards, and traditional values of societies. 

I regret to say that in today’s world, the "export" of democracy to various regions, regime change, the staging of “color revolutions” and the use of other methods of imposing models of so-called democratic development upon sovereign States with no consideration for their history, culture, and traditions have become major destabilizing factors. The results of this irresponsible policy can be seen in the Middle East, African Region, and even in Europe.

Let me underline one more thing. The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially undermined the social and economic foundations of States and respective rights of citizens. There is a widening development gap between nations and regions. There is also growing inequality within countries, including those of the so-called “Golden Billion”.

What is disturbing is that even the world-wide epidemiological catastrophe has not encouraged States to put aside differences in their approaches, has not become a uniting force in the face of a common calamity, has not pushed countries into genuine dialogue and cooperation. Vice versa, divisions are escalating. Western mentoring is becoming more obsessive, oppressive and even aggressive.

Despite the pandemic and the apparent need to consolidate our efforts, Western countries refuse to reconsider their selfish ways and to abandon their coercive approaches and unlawful methods of intimidation and pressure. Calls from the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as from some special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, to suspend unilateral coercive measures on supplies of food, medicines and equipment needed to combat the virus, as well as on related financial transactions, have gone unheeded. Western capitals are persistent in ignoring that unlawful restrictions have a devastating impact on human rights. This is not just a politicization of humanitarian issues. It seems that such behavior is driven by the desire to take advantage of the pandemic to punish “undesirable” governments.

Instruments which are used for this destructive purpose include various international fora, including the UN Human Rights Council. The Council is used for showdowns between States where so-called “old leading democracies” settle scores with those whose policy is independent and differs from their approaches. I am convinced that we all need a stronger principle of cooperation in the work of the Council and an honest, mutually respectful, and equal dialogue on topical issues.

Another challenge is the initiatives presented by Western countries aiming at the review of the human rights concept. It is evident that real democracy can only derive from independent development of society with full participation of its members. Unfortunately, the connection between democracy-building and inclusiveness has been severely challenged in recent years: certain countries are lobbying for a neo-liberal interpretation of the concept of human rights, focusing on individualism and almost completely ignoring the individual’s responsibility and obligations before society and the State. In practice, equating freedom with permissiveness leads to conflicts that do not contribute to the harmonious development of the individual, society, and the State.

And one last thing. Some countries pretending to be “the bulwark of democracy”, still see themselves in the period of the “Cold War”. To our regret, their recent initiatives aimed at further deepening divisions between countries on the basis of their compliance with so-called democratic criteria, has nothing to do with efforts to make our world a better and safer place. The concept of a“rules-based order” is another link in the policy which is destroying the pillars of the system based on international law and the principles of the UN Charter.

In this regard I would like to quote Dwight Eisenhower, 34th US President who wisely said: “The world must learn to work together, or finally it will not work at all”.

I am sure this meeting will provide an opportunity to identify -from the perspective of democracy and human rights - the challenges and the root causes for the current disturbing situation in international relations, the high level of division, disunity and confrontation between States, and to discuss the unifying democracy and human rights agenda.

Not to take up any more time, I wish all the participants an interesting and fruitful discussion.

I thank you.