15 May 1996

Press Release


19960515 Address to State Duma in Moscow Reviews Areas of Cooperation; Current Financial Crisis of World Organization Is Also Discussed

This is the text of an address delivered in Moscow today by Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to the State Duma of Russia:

This chamber is part of the system of government of the Russian Nation, a world super-Power. You are here to serve a remarkable, a gifted and a great people -- the people of Russia.

You are the elected representatives of the Russian people. It is therefore more than a pleasure for me to come before you today. It is an honour and a privilege.

Events unfolding here in Moscow have always been watched carefully by the rest of the world. Because of the power of Russian ideas, and the influence of decisions taken here, people in other countries have often described them as "momentous". The ideas that were born in this country, and the struggles that have been waged here, have had an influence far beyond the borders of Russia.

Future accounts of twentieth-century world history and politics will bear the name of Russia on practically every page. The struggle against absolutism and feudalism. The rise of the working classes. The debate over the roles of people, party and State, in the making of the revolution, and in the building of socialism. The defeat of fascism, and the triumph of democracy -- on all these great questions of the century, Russians and Russian thinking have been crucial.

Russia was present at the founding of the United Nations. While war still raged, Russia was giving careful thought to the building of a post-war peace. As President Boris Yeltsin put it in his address to the fiftieth anniversary commemorative session of the United Nations General Assembly, on 22 October last year --

"Divided and bleeding, the world understood that its only future was the path of mutual understanding and interaction."

Russia was one of those nations whose commitment to peace was enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. As a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia has been a major influence in the Organization ever since its founding.

Today, the United Nations is in the midst of a financial crisis. Many States -- despite their Treaty obligations -- are failing to pay their assessed financial contributions on time or in full.

We have made unprecedented budget reductions. I have carried out far- reaching reforms. But the financial crisis continues. The total amount outstanding to the Organization from Member States -- both for peace-keeping and for the regular budget -- is $2.8 billion. Only 61 out of 185 Member States have paid their 1996 regular budget contribution in full.

You should be proud that Russia is among those Member States. As far as the regular budget is concerned, Russia has met all its obligations to the United Nations. And I welcome the Russian Federation's payment plan under which outstanding Russian assessments for the peace-keeping operations will be cleared over a six-year period. I am grateful for your assistance.

My message today is not only that Russia has been, and remains, a major member of the United Nations, but also that Russia's role will be crucial in the building of new approaches to international relations, based on the Charter of the United Nations. Russian thinking and Russian acts will be essential as the twenty-first century approaches.

The world has changed greatly in the years since the United Nations was founded. Today, we are in an unprecedented time of transition. We are moving, in an atmosphere of rapid and sometimes dramatic change, towards a new international system for the twenty-first century. An opportunity now exists that the world system envisaged by the anti-Fascist coalition at the end of the Second World War, but never implemented, could at last come about.

The Charter system rejected force or fear as the basis of relations between States. It envisaged a world made strong by a shared conviction that development, democracy, justice and human rights provide the firmest foundation for lasting peace.

We have moved away from the cold war era in which the two super-Powers invariably took sides in regional or local disputes. That was a world filled with fear that local or regional disputes might suddenly flare up, even to the nuclear level. World survival seemed to hang in the balance every day.

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Since the ending of the cold war, such disputes most often have been laid at the doorstep of the United Nations. In many cases -- in Cambodia, in El Salvador, in Mozambique, in Angola -- the United Nations has helped divided nations to choose the path of peace. In case after case the role of the United Nations in seeking peaceful solutions to disputes has been applauded by the international community.

Russia's support has been essential. Russia is actively engaged in the work of the United Nations. Russia and the United Nations are working together for peace and security in many parts of the world. Russia is demonstrating her firm commitment to the United Nations by supporting its work across the board: as an instrument for peace-making, peace-keeping and peace- building in the world.

Russia actively participates in United Nations peace-keeping. In the Western Sahara, in Angola, on the Egyptian/Israeli border and on the Iraqi/Kuwaiti border, Russian military observers are serving with United Nations peace-keeping operations.

President Yeltsin addressed these issues in his speech to the fiftieth anniversary General Assembly. He said that Russia was ready to contribute stand-by forces to the United Nations under Article 43 of the Charter of the United Nations. I am grateful for this commitment.

Russia also has been active in international peace-keeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia. Russian diplomacy played an indispensable role in the Contact Group, and in the process which lead to the successful conclusion of the Dayton Agreement.

Russia has contributed troops, observers and civilian police to United Nations operations in former Yugoslavia. The Russian battalion plays a vital role in support of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia.

Russia promotes regional peace-keeping as well. Your great assembly recently passed a law on the "contribution of military and civilian personnel to activities aimed at the maintenance or restoration of international peace and security" which sets out the Russian approach.

In Nagorny Karabakh, in Georgia/Abkhazia, and in Tajikistan, Russia and the United Nations are working together in the search for peaceful solutions.

In Nagorny Karabakh, Russian efforts brought a cease-fire in May 1994. Today, the United Nations is lending its support to the efforts of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is co-chaired by Russia.

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In Georgia/Abkhazia, Russia's role as facilitator in the peace process is crucial. The CIS peace-keeping force is working closely with the Observer Mission of the United Nations (UNOMIG).

In Tajikistan, the CIS peace-keeping force and Russian border troops are important factors for stability. The peace process there involves close cooperation between Russia and my Special Representative.

In all of these areas, cooperation between the United Nations and Russia will continue. Both the President of the Russian Federation, and the Prime Minister, have made it clear that this is the view of the Russian Government.

But Russia's involvement with the work of the United Nations goes much further. I hope that Russian involvement in the development work of the United Nations will become even broader and deeper in the years to come.

Russia is currently playing an active role in debates about the work of the United Nations in the field of sustainable development. Russian scientists and officials have taken part in United Nations discussions about the environment, climate change and biological diversity. I have been assisted by the helpful Russian response to my Agenda for Development. And Russian officials have been strongly committed to the recent cycle of global conferences -- for example the Beijing Conference on Women, and the World Summit for Social Development.

The development agencies of the United Nations are cooperating with Russia in the process of economic and social reform.

Increasingly, we are seeing that old divisions in the work of the international community -- which separated peace and development work -- are becoming interconnected. We see that peace breaks down when development fails. And we see so often that ethnic conflict can arise when economic progress falters, and when democracy and human rights are neglected.

It is no secret that democracies almost never go to war against each other. Democracies promote peace. Peace is essential for development. There is thus a clear linkage between peace, development and democracy.

The answer is to act comprehensively -- not only for peace and development, but also for social justice, democracy and human rights. And to understand the linkages between these various ingredients of peace.

Finally, let me say -- with respect -- how important I consider your responsibilities, as elected representatives of the people of Russia. You here in this great chamber not only are fulfilling the great responsibility of representing your Russian constituents, you also have before you another new

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responsibility -- as Parliamentarians. Today, Parliamentarians are themselves one of the new actors on the international scene. Their voices are heard on a global scale.

The United Nations welcomes this encouraging new development. When Parliamentarians around the world form United Nations committees, when they serve as delegates to United Nations agencies, and when, as a world group, they meet at the United Nations, the cause of democratization of the international system is reinforced.

I urge Russia to be increasingly engaged. I see a new partnership developing between the United Nations and the Russian Federation, a partnership which will help to build the international world of tomorrow.

I thank you for what you have been doing to support the cooperative work of Russia and the United Nations. I urge you to remain engaged and to ensure that Russia carries forward its leading role in shaping a better world for all peoples in the century to come.

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For information media. Not an official record.