An arsonist is (once again) presiding over the international firefighting institution. However, there are steps states and civil society can take to push back during Russia’s Presidency of the UN…
Florian Irminger, a member of FPC’s Advisory Council, is a dedicated strategist for human rights and climate justice advocacy. Over the past two decades, he has served as a local elected official, as secretary general of a national political party, and in leadership positions of local and international NGOs. Florian’s experience extends from Europe to the United Nations, Central Asia to Central Africa, Baku to Minsk through Kyiv. He led Human Rights House Foundation’s advocacy, in which function he was instrumental in securing the attention of the Security Council to the situation in Crimea, including through organising the first events and Arria Formula briefings at the United Nations.
- Raise publicly the issue of protection of children in armed conflicts: Security Council resolution 2225 establishes abduction of children as a trigger to list parties to armed conflict in the annual report of the Secretary General on the issue. As the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber issued warrants of arrest for the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, the Security Council has the opportunity to discuss the situation of children in armed conflict again, with reports from the ground in Ukraine and from the Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry, which itself reported on the abduction of Ukrainian children by Russian forces. States should request for the Council to hold such a briefing; should the presidency refuse or not include it in the programme of work, member states should hold a public event — for example under the Arria-Formula— of their own with high-level speakers. The Secretary General is to publish his annual report on the issue in June, and not addressing the issue during Russia’s presidency would be a failure.
- Shed the light on the repression against freedom of expression in Russia: We cannot ignore that Putin’s war against Ukraine comes amidst two decades of repression and criminalisation of dissent. Just days ago, Moscow police raided the homes of nine staff and board members of Memorial, one of Russia’s leading human rights organisations and a co-recipient of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. Russia’s presidency provides an opportunity to thematise the interrelation between peace and stability, human rights, and the rule of law. Seventy one states had signed up to such an intention through the Appeal of 13 June. Human rights should be better integrated into the work of the Council, but the opportunity to seize in April is rather to discuss how repression of dissent, opposition, independent media and civil society is an early warning sign of potential regional instability. Russia is in this way a case study, upon which Council members should shine a spotlight.
- Take action to address the environmental disaster of the war: The Security Council should take action firstly in welcoming the work of the UN International Law Commission, which adopted its Draft principles on protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts. Based on that action, it should recognise the importance of the activities undertaken by the UN Environment Programme in Ukraine in relation to the war and mandate an assessment of the impact of the war in Ukraine on the environment to be presented to the Council swiftly.
- States should hold the presidency to the rules of procedure of the Council: Security Council member states must prepare their diplomats to lead “floor fights” against the presidency on the interpretation and respect of the rules of procedures of the Council and the United Nations Charter itself. Holding Russia accountable to UN rules of procedures are “necessary fights” in order to highlight the responsibility of a permanent member of the Security Council towards the institution and, in the words of the Preamble of the UN Charter, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” In order to avoid the scenes of 24 February 2022, states must compel Ambassador Nebenzya, in order to “for the proper fulfilment of the responsibilities of the presidency” to step aside during the consideration of issues directly connected to the Russian Federation, as foreseen by rule 20 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure. However, this will not suffice; should there be a renewed attempt in April to vote on a Security Council resolution — in fact Ukraine and its allies would be well inspired to once again come to the table of the Security Council — member states should require explanation from the presidency and interpretation by the Secretariat of the duty foreseen in paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the UN Charter that “a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.”