On February the 23rd in 2022, Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations, issued a challenge to the governing body. He said: “Mr. Secretary-General, please instruct the secretariat to distribute among the members of the Security Council and the members of the General Assembly a decision by the Security Council dated December 1991 that recommends that the Russian Federation can be a member of this organization, as well as a decision by the General Assembly dated December 1991 where the General Assembly welcomes the Russian Federation to this organization.”
The Ambassador also said it would be a miracle if the Secretariat could produce such documentation. He knew that the Office of Legal Affairs had been playing fast and loose with the Charter after the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics finally collapsed in December of 1991. An entirely new government was formed, and the Russian Federation, in clear violation of the United Nations Charter, had arbitrarily assumed the former government’s permanent member position on the Security Council. This was clearly enabled through the inattention of the UN’s Legal Counsel. While Secretary General António Guterres sat stupefied, Kyslytsya referred to Article 4, paragraph 2 of the UN Charter which reads:
“The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”
Although the Russian Federation was formed in the hope that the people of Russia would finally become the true arbiters of their own destiny, it is now a kleptocracy. It is a very different country from the onetime ally that was among the 51 countries “committed to maintaining international peace and security” when the United Nations was founded on October the 4th in 1945. According to Oppenheim’s International Law, as it refers to the United Nations, “Permanent membership in the Security Council was granted to five states based on their importance in the aftermath of World War II.”
That was long ago. The caustic mix of autocracy, inauthentic democracy, and kleptocracy on the Security Council has rendered the UN largely impotent. It is no longer an effective champion of those governments that derive their just authority by any informed consent of the governed. And the one thing that might make a difference, that might move the UN beyond the status of a debating society, the Secretariat steadfastly refuses to do. But, the General Secretary is not the only one.
In 2022, on the February 27th episode of CNN’s State of the Union, Linda Thomas Greenfield – the US Ambassador to the United Nations said: Russia is a member of the Security Council, that’s in the UN Charter.” With this statement, Ambassador Greenfield has exhibited a reckless indifference to the truth. In actuality the Charter, in Article 23 states:
“The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council.”
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic’s seat on the UN Security Council was never legally transferred, by any due process, to the Russian Federation. There was no Union of Soviet Socialist Republics after what the Guardian newspaper described, as “the most cataclysmic peacetime economic collapse of an industrial country in history.” The dissolution of the Soviet Union between 1988 and 1991 was characterized by a process of internal political, economic and ethnic disintegration which resulted in the end of its existence as a sovereign state.
In late 1991, the leaders of three of the former Union’s founding and largest republics; the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, and the Byelorussian SSR declared that the Soviet Union no longer existed. They were later joined by eight more former Soviet republics.
The United Nations is willfully compromised. The member states, with the exception of Ukraine, have not taken any action to correct the problem/s with the Security Council. There was no recommendation by the Security Council and there was no decision by the General Assembly to “grandfather in” the Russian Federation or, for that matter, any other country that has undergone significant change since an original determination was made that it qualified for membership in an organization founded to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
Other commitments delineated in the Charter Preamble, such as the ones to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, to preserve the dignity and worth of the human person, to insure equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom are worthy objectives. The problem is that certain members of the UN Security Council have exhibited nothing but contempt for these principles. The UN is defining itself every day through its sincerity or a lack thereof.