Russia has made its pitch for election to the UN Human Rights Council by assuring other counties it will oppose any measures to hold abusers to account, which Russia deemed “political,” “selective” and an application of “double standards.”
Speaking at a reception for UN delegates in New York on Thursday, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia sought to justify Moscow’s candidacy for the world’s top human rights body, yet he failed to address Russia’s own human rights record.
Instead, Russia’s main message was that “there are no ‘beacons of democracy’ or ‘rogue states’.” To win over Islamic countries, he spoke of “preventing insult of religious feelings” and Islamophobia. To win over African and Asian countries, he spoke of the “full realization of the right to development.”
Following are the full remarks by Russia’s UN ambassador, delivered on October 5, 2023.
Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the reception on the occasion of the candidature of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2024-2026
Excellencies, friends and colleagues,
We are glad to welcome you today in our mission.
Russia counts on your support at the elections to the Human Rights Council on the 10th of October in the General Assembly.
Our country stood at the inception of the Council and significantly contributed to the elaboration and adoption of its Institution Building Package as reflected in Council’s resolutions 5/1 and 5/2. We were also actively engaged in the review of its working methods and status after the first five years of its establishment.
The core feature of the Council as opposed to previously existed human rights machinery must be universality, non-selectivity and objectivity. Over 10 years of its membership in the Council Russia worked to bring practical meaning to these fundamental principles. Russia is a true believer in fair, mutually respectful and equal dialogue on issues related to promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
It is important that the Council treat all countries equally. There are no “beacons of democracy” or “rogue states”. No Member State can claim to be immune from human rights violations, but the solution is in strengthening international cooperation on the basis of dialogue. We must support each other on the headway to universal respect for fundamental human rights, dignity and worth of the human person, equal rights of men and women, promotion of social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom as envisaged in the United Nations Charter.
The Human Rights Council must be protected from misuse as a tool for settling political scores and from practice of double standards. Those are tactics of certain States that proclaim themselves to be “human rights champions”. They attack others, while hushing up violations at home, such as religious intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia. In pursuing political goals of suppressing any dissent they do not hesitate to disregard rules of the Organization, in particular by suspending the rights of membership of Russia in the Council. These practices are to be firmly opposed.
Our country has promoted equal treatment of all categories of human rights and respect for diversity of cultures and civilizations in the activities of the Council. We actively work on fulfilling international commitments with regard to economic, social and cultural rights and stand for the full realization of the right to development.
We support strengthening universal norms of human rights protection, coupling them with responsibility of individuals for their actions, including in terms of preventing insult of religious feelings, to foster mutual understanding and respect, and to consolidate moral principles in the human rights dialogue. We believe that the Human Rights Council must firmly oppose manifestations of racism, xenophobia, migrantophobia, aggressive nationalism, Afrophobia, Islamophobia, Christianophobia, anti-Semitism, religious and ethnic intolerance, neo‑Nazism and other extremist ideologies.
Russia is a party to the majority of core universal human rights treaties. Our country regularly and timely submits periodic reports on the implementation of the human rights instruments to the relevant treaty bodies and engages constructively with special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Russian judicial system is actively relying on their recommendations in its day to day activities. Russia was three times reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review process. Now we prepare for the dialogue on the Forth report in November 2023.
We believe that States bear primary responsibility for promotion and protection of human rights. The Human Rights Council should provide necessary assistance for the establishment and promotion of the constructive intergovernmental cooperation and strengthening international regime of human rights on the basis of justice and equality in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
Russia stands ready to continue promoting human rights as a component in the rapprochement of States and groups of States and not as a matter of discord, pressure and mentoring.
Excellencies, colleagues and friends,
We count on your support to the candidature of the Russian Federation to the Council and you can count on our cooperation on all issues of human rights.