Academic journal article Military Review

Comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the UN General Assembly

Academic journal article Military Review

Comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the UN General Assembly

Article excerpt

Editor's note: This is the official transcript of a speech given by Russian President Vladimir Putin 28 September 2015 to the UN General Assembly as released by the office of the Russian president.1

This speech is provided in conjunction with the next two articles in an effort to acquaint our readers with the perspectives of senior Russian leaders on the subject of future war and should not be construed as an effort to promote their views.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished heads of state and government, ladies, and gentlemen,

The seventieth anniversary of the United Nations is a good occasion to both take stock of history and talk about our common future. In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined their efforts to lay a solid foundation for the postwar world order. Let me remind you that key decisions on the principles defining interaction between states, as well as the decision to establish the UN, were made in our country at the Yalta Conference of the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition.

The Yalta system was truly born in travail. It was born at the cost of tens of millions of lives and two world wars that swept through the planet in the twentieth century. Let's be fair: it helped humankind pass through turbulent, and at times dramatic, events of the last seven decades. It saved the world from large-scale upheavals.

The United Nations is unique in terms of legitimacy, representation, and universality. True, the UN has been criticized lately for being inefficient, or for the fact that decision-making on fundamental issues stalls due to insurmountable differences, especially among Security Council members.

However, I'd like to point out that there have always been differences in the UN throughout the seventy years of its history, and that the veto right has been regularly used by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the Soviet Union, and later Russia. It is only natural for such a diverse and representative organization. When the UN was first established, nobody expected that there would always be unanimity. The mission of the organization is to seek and reach compromises, and its strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration. The decisions debated within the UN are either taken in the form of resolutions or not. As diplomats say, they either pass or they don't. Any action taken by circumventing this procedure is illegitimate and constitutes a violation of the UN Charter and contemporary international law.

We all know that after the end of the Cold War the world was left with one center of dominance, and those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that, since they are so powerful and exceptional, they know best what needs to be done and thus they don't need to reckon with the UN, which, instead of rubber-stamping the decisions they need, often stands in their way.

That's why they say that the UN has run its course and is now obsolete and outdated. Of course, the world changes, and the UN should also undergo natural transformation. Russia is ready to work together with its partners to develop the UN further on the basis of a broad consensus, but we consider any attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They may result in the collapse of the entire architecture of international relations, and then indeed there will be no rules left except for the rule of force. The world will be dominated by selfishness rather than collective effort, by dictate rather than equality and liberty, and instead of truly independent states we will have protectorates controlled from outside.

What is the meaning of state sovereignty, the term which has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It basically means freedom, every person and every state being free to choose their future.

By the way, this brings us to the issue of the so-called legitimacy of state authorities. …

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