Ban Ki-moon gets an earful in Moscow

RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev

In the good old days, distinguished foreign guests were showered with flowers as they were driven in convertibles from Vnukovo Airport along Moscow’s Leninsky Prospekt. Now visits are much more businesslike. Even by today’s modest standards, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Moscow has been very subdued. He arrived without any fanfare, and there is little in the way of specifics on his talks in the Kremlin, the Foreign Ministry and elsewhere, although serious issues were on the agenda.

Questions for the UN leadership

The issues in question are no secret. President Medvedev voiced his concerns in statements made after his meeting with fellow leaders of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The BRICS leaders discussed the events in Libya and Ivory Coast during their summit on Hainan Island. The crux of the matter is this: How is it that the great (and not so great) powers on the UN Security Council pass a resolution that seeks to end a conflict, only to have a small group of countries take action based on their own interpretation of this document? By “take action” I mean bombing and arming the opposition.

But what does Ban Ki-moon have to do with the liberties taken by some EU countries and the United States, who seem to be looking for trouble around the world? As Medvedev said on Hainan ( “For example, the resolution on the developments in Ivory Coast, Resolution 1975, if I remember correctly, talks about using United Nations agencies, but not about supporting one of the sides in the conflict. The UN generally cannot support any side, but in fact that is what we have in Ivory Coast. To be honest, we have some very serious questions to the leadership of the United Nations because it is a very dangerous trend. The UN certainly should make an effort to separate conflicting parties, but it must never help one of the parties, even if we believe that it is in the right.”

So, the questions were raised. All that was left to do was wait for the promised serious discussion, which was supposed to take place at a meeting of the Security Council at which the nations participating in the operations in Libya and the Ivory Coast were to report on their enforcement of the relevant resolutions. However, the meeting was never scheduled. Sources in the Russian government said with a smile that these were common procedural games in the UN but that the meeting is inevitable. China, India, Brazil and South Africa are not in a hurry. They are all members of the UN Security Council and will have a chance to make their positions known.

But instead of waiting for the Security Council meeting, why not raise these serious concerns with Ban Ki-moon himself?

Ban Ki-moon may stand for a second term

There are many ways of politely telling a guest on one’s own behalf and on behalf of one’s international partners: “We are not very happy with your performance, esteemed Mr. Ban.” Often words are not even necessary in these cases. It’s clear that the secretary general has a thing for the revolutionary romanticism of civil wars and supports freedom fighters in general. As a result, he often sides with arch-liberals from Europe or America who are ready, at a moment’s notice, to spill the blood not of “dictators” so much as those unfortunate souls whose job is to fight on their behalf.

However, the secretary general of the UN should not take extreme political positions, let alone side with the minority of UN member states on an issue, as he has in the case of Libya and the Ivory Coast. That is not what he was elected for.

Initially, who the majority and minority were in these intricate African conflicts was unclear, but after the initial confusion the BRICS summit on Hainan made it perfectly clear which direction the winds of international public opinion were blowing. Now everyone wants to see peace in Libya and an end to other similar conflicts.

On March 28, I wrote that the United States supports a second term for Ban Ki-moon and that the other permanent members of the UN Security Council are unlikely to stand in his way. But things change fast in today’s world.

A couple of days ago a “Russian diplomat close to the UN circles” told Interfax news agency that for the time being Moscow can’t see any candidates other than Ban Ki-moon for the position of secretary general. “For the time being” is a recent addition to Russia’s positions.

A slight vision adjustment

The point is not to compel Mr. Ban to change his convictions or position, but rather to adjust his vision slightly in favor of greater neutrality. But even if the status quo persists, Russia will remain a great supporter of the UN and will work to strengthen its role as an honest and impartial broker in international affairs.

During his latest visit to Moscow, Ban Ki-moon discussed with President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issues of economic development, the fight against terrorism, and the prospect of resuming talks on the Korean Peninsula, the secretary general’s homeland. He also had an interesting discussion with Nikolai Bordyuzha, the secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), about the UN’s activities.

Also, Medvedev and Ban had a substantive discussion on the key issues of the day. The coming weeks will reveal the practical results of that discussion.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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