Is it possible to get Russia out of the UN?

In social networks, you can find a lot of speculation about how Russia can be excluded from the UN or deprived of its status as a permanent member of the Security Council. Thinkers refer to articles of the United Nations Charter that allegedly allow for such an operation, in particular Article 6, which states that “a member of the Organization who formally violates, he may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.

legal aspects

Herein lies the first hurdle: expelling Russia from the UN requires a Security Council recommendation.

According to the Charter, on non-procedural issues, decisions of the UN Security Council are made by 9 votes, including the concurring vote of all permanent members of the Council. If a member state of the UN Security Council submits for its consideration a draft decision to expel Russia from the UN, Russia will certainly vote against such a decision. Moreover, with a high degree of probability, China will also speak out against it – for at least two reasons:

  • To avoid a precedent that could then be used against China itself;
  • Because of the reluctance to lose a convenient ally, behind whose back the Chinese have been accustomed to hide in the UN Security Council for many years.

It is no secret that it was Russian diplomacy that has borne the brunt of criticism from the West over the past decades, defending Chinese positions at the UN, among other things, while at the same time requiring Beijing to demonstrate much greater flexibility, accommodation Gave permission. and sufficiency.

Some authors point out (for example) that the above scenario can be easily neutralized by citing paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the Charter. It states that when voting in the UNSC on dispute resolution, “a party to the dispute shall abstain from voting in a decision under Article 52, Chapter 6 and Article 3.”

It should be noted here that the Russian translation can be confusing. It is easy to think that a party to a dispute should abstain from voting because Chapter 6 of the Charter says so (“under Chapter 6”). Chapter 6 is devoted to the peaceful settlement of disputes. However, the English version of Article 27, paragraph 3, paints a clearer picture:

The decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members, including the concurrence votes of the permanent members; Provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to the dispute shall abstain from voting.

That is, the party to the dispute abstains only from voting on issues relating to Chapter 6 and Article 3 of Article 52. Voting in the UN Security Council on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine takes place not according to the sixth, but according to the seventh chapter. of the Charter – “Acts in respect of threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression.

This can be clearly seen from the 2022 vote in the United Nations Security Council.

On 26 February, the United States and Albania submitted to the United Nations Security Council a draft resolution condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The project is blocked by the Russian Federation.

On September 30, 2022, the United States and Albania submitted a draft UN Security Council resolution condemning the “referendum” in Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. This project was also vetoed by Russia.

Furthermore, Chapter 6 has nothing to do with the question of the exclusion of a state from the United Nations, since we are not talking about a dispute between states.

Another way to change the state of affairs in the United Nations is to amend the Charter. As is known, the UN Charter still lists the USSR as a permanent member of the UN Security Council along with the Republic of China. However, here too, supporters of boycotting Russia face difficulties set by the founders of the UN: amendments to the Charter must be adopted by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly and then ratified by a two-thirds vote of the UN should be done. Members, including all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Article 108). Any changes to the Charter adopted by the General Conference of UN members must also be ratified by all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is easy to guess that Russia will not take such a step under any circumstances and will voluntarily exclude itself from the UN.

All of this should come as no surprise, since the creators of the UN saw no possibility in principle of depriving a permanent member of the UN Security Council of such status.

The “precedent” of ousting Taiwan in 1971 and replacing it with the PRC, which is also often cited, does not fit. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 (1971) “decides to restore to the People’s Republic of China all its rights and to recognize the representatives of its Government as the sole legitimate representatives of China at the United Nations…”. In 1971, it was not about expelling a permanent member from the Security Council – China retained this position anyway – but about replacing some of the Chinese representatives in the UN, i.e. the Taiwan Kuomintang, among others. Together represented the People’s Republic of China.

The appeal of the Ukrainians to the fact that Russia was never formally admitted to the UN and therefore has no right to be in the UN Security Council is also flawed. In international relations, there is the concept of “established practice” (established practice), in particular, in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. If states have been following some informal procedures for many years and do not make any complaints about the mentioned procedures, then their validity is not in doubt.

In light of this, Ukraine’s statement (even from Ukraine itself) about the “unconstitutionality” of Russia’s presence in the UN after 30 years of no objections to this fact seems unfounded from the point of view of established practice. It is very likely that such an approach will not excite many members of the United Nations.

If you wish, you can delve into the debate about the need to review all UN decisions taken with the participation of Moscow, including the results of voting in the UN Security Council, the General Assembly and other bodies, in the event of Russia’s exclusion Can , appointments to the United Nations Secretariat and specialized agencies, financial issues, etc.

Political consequences of Russia’s exclusion from the United Nations

Russia’s notional expulsion from the UN Security Council would open a vacancy in the composition of the permanent members of the Security Council. Which states would be eligible to take this position?

As is known, talks about the need for reform of the United Nations have been going on since the early 1990s. In particular, there were proposals to increase the number of permanent members of the Security Council. The most obvious candidates are India, Brazil, Germany, Japan, South Africa and Indonesia. If a seat for a permanent member of the UN Security Council becomes vacant, there will inevitably be a struggle for it.

It is not difficult to imagine how this conflict would affect the activities of the United Nations. The aggravation of contradictions between the camps of supporters of this or that candidate is fraught with the prohibition, and even paralysis, of the General Assembly and other main bodies of the UN. There is no need to look far for an example – the author of these lines had the opportunity to personally observe a 25-year stagnation in the work of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, caused by the irreconcilable attitudes of the participating states Was. Solving major problems of international security.

The polarization of countries will also affect the distribution of votes in UN specialized agencies, which can complicate their work and even possibly stop their activities, for example, decisions on budgetary issues. Because of the impossibility of taking

It is important to remember that for most developing countries, the United Nations is a unique opportunity not only to be heard by other countries and identify their problems and concerns, but also to receive humanitarian, technical and other assistance in the socio-economic sphere. It is also an important medium. area and area of ​​sustainable development, in mitigating the consequences of climate change etc., including achieving sustainable development goals 2030, The total investment in solving these ambitious tasks is 5-7 trillion dollars. The United Nations and its agencies play an important role in mobilizing these funds. With the discord in the United Nations, the implementation of aid programs will be a big question. Of course, developing states, and they are in the majority at the UN, would not be at all happy with such a prospect.

If Russia somehow ceases to be a member of the UN, it is unlikely to have a positive impact on the current political reality around Ukraine. Of course, the UN Security Council would be free of the Russian veto, but it would remain with China. And even if we assume that China does not block a proposal to “force Russia to make peace” and the UN Security Council authorizes a military or “peacekeeping” operation against Russia, the practical consequences of such a move remain unclear. It’s hard to imagine.

Russia’s nuclear weapons will not go anywhere and will continue to deter any attempt to coerce it by force. It seems that China will be able to agree to such radical steps (and this is far from a fact) only in the event of a qualitative deterioration in the military-political situation, for example, in the event of Russia using nuclear weapons .

Russia’s exclusion from the United Nations would allow the current Russian leadership to completely abandon the fulfillment of obligations under UN treaties and conventions, in particular those relating to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Russia will be able to completely “legally” distribute WMD and its production technologies to everyone. The same applies to commitments to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and other transnational crimes.

Finally, the precedent of exclusion from the United Nations would raise a great number of questions from many states to the United Nations itself. There will be those who want to blackmail the same West – the main source of funding for the UN – by leaving the UN after Russia, if they do not receive any additional preferences. With a high degree of probability, such a scenario would lead to the destruction of the UNO: a demonstrative withdrawal of three or four countries could provoke an avalanche-like reaction.

Assessing the prospects of Russia’s exclusion from the UN, one should not forget about the spread of anti-Western and anti-American sentiments in many developing countries. The efforts to oust Russia from the United Nations are seen by many not as a desire to punish the aggressor, but as a desire to seek revenge with a state that “opposes the ‘neo-colonial’ policy of the West”. Is.”

The initiative to oust Russia from the UN has the potential to lead to the complete collapse and destruction of the UN, which still performs many important functions, despite the many justified claims against it. It can be assumed that the Ukrainian initiative is unlikely to have the support of most UN member states and will remain one of the means of political pressure on Russia.

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