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Russia and the United States lead a quiet war in the United Nations for appointments

Russia and the United States lead a quiet war in the United Nations for appointments

27 2018 June LJ cover – Россия и США ведут в ООН тихую войну за назначения
Tags: Russia, United States, UN, Politics, Analytics, West

The tit-for-tat struggle weakens the ability of the United Nations to enforce sanctions in the world.

Gregory Johnsen was the last victim. In March of this year, an American humanist who spent two years investigating violations of sanctions in Yemen for the UN Security Council was informed that Russia had rejected his new contract.

Two weeks earlier it was Nikolai Dobronravin, a Russian professor whose appointment to the Security Council Committee to investigate violations of UN sanctions in the Sudan was blocked by the United States - together with France and Britain.

These two people are part of a wider group of experts and administrators, six at the very least who either lost their jobs in the UN, or were rejected at the appointment in recent months, despite the fact that they are highly competent.

Analysts say that these people are victims of the silent mediated war that the United States and Russia are conducting recently to advance their broader plans in this world organization - a war that encourages bureaucratic sabotage and skillful secrets of UN procedures.

For Russia, the goal is, apparently, to undermine the ability of the UN to enforce sanctions against countries and terrorist organizations, from Iran to North Korea and Southern Sudan. For the United States, this appears to be due to wider divergence of views with Russia about its interference in elections in Western countries and its military participation in Ukraine and Syria.

"I think that we will see even more such guerrilla actions around the issues of diplomatic processes, unless the US and Russia conclude something like a big deal to reduce their overall tension in the UN, and this looks now really distant," Richard said. Gowen, an expert on United Nations issues at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

"The obstruction strategy turned out to be quite good for Moscow in the Syrian issue, and the situation looks like they will apply it more widely," he said.

These refusals and countermeasures date back to the beginning of the year when Russia entered into confrontation with the United States and its European allies because of the appointment of a special commissioner responsible for ensuring that the alleged terrorists against whom the Security Council imposed sanctions received some degree of procedural guarantees. This post has remained vacant since last August, when he left Catherine Marchie-Juhel.

Russia preferred the Tanzanian successor, but his candidacy was ruled out by the United States, Britain and France. Moscow responded by blocking two candidates favored by Washington, one from France and the other from Lebanon.

This desperate situation led to the post being left unoccupied for several months, until May of this year, weakening this post, which already faces the erosion of its powers.

Russian diplomats reacted by delaying the appointment of the French missile expert to a committee monitoring the UN sanctions against North Korea. They also blocked an attempt by the United States and its European allies to impose a ban on the entry and freezing of assets against six people suspected of illegal human trafficking in Libya. But recently they have softened their position, creating prerequisites for imposing sanctions against traffickers. For their part, the United States and its European allies eventually removed the blocking of Dobronravin's appointment, a Russian expert on the Sudan.

Jonesen's withdrawal occurs at a time of tense relations between Russia and the West. Moscow allegedly tried to kill the Russian double agent and his daughter in London in March, using a rare nerve agent, Novice. Russian diplomats prevented the extension of Jonsen's contract after the United States criticized this attempt at poisoning. Two weeks after the attack, President Donald Trump sent 60 Russian spies and diplomats from the United States.

"This is an eye-to-eye situation," said Johnsen, who missed several of the proposals in anticipation of whether Moscow would soften its position, and then agreed to work in the think tank in Washington. His situation has not been reported before.

"The United States is doing something, and Russia is responding in exactly the same way." What is happening between the US and Russia looks like a kindergarten. "

The case of Jonesen, more than others, illustrates how friction in US-Russian relations adversely affects various aspects of UN activities and undermines the organization's ability to enforce a wide range of sanctions.

Russia, one of the countries that have the right of veto power in the UN, has long used its excessive influence to protect its interests. But diplomats say that Russia is now sabotaging a wider number of initiatives supported by the West, which go far beyond its central interests.

Some diplomats say that Russia in this story is not the only villain.

"We can walk in a circle, trying to determine who was the target of the attack first," said one knowledgeable official. "I do not think there are sinless in all this."

Nevertheless, this enmity plays a strategic advantage for Moscow.

Russia - along with China - has long been skeptical of the advisability of imposing sanctions on countries that violate international norms. This belief has only strengthened since the United States and Europe imposed economic sanctions against Moscow in response to its annexation of the Crimea.

In an attempt to repulse Moscow's diplomats use their knowledge of the rules and procedures of the United Nations to disrupt US-backed initiatives in the UN.

Even when Moscow and Beijing approve sanctions regimes in the Security Council, their diplomats carry out behind the scenes a variety of strategies to weaken the UN's ability to enforce sanctions by blocking the publication of reports documenting violations, gradually reducing budgets for UN experts and banishing technicians making inconvenient revelations.

Russia backed Iran's proposal in December to cut down the budget of the UN group, which tracks the transportation of Tehran's weapons and ballistic missiles, which led to the removal of the German rocket expert and the Austrian arms expert. Their dismissal was a blow to US attempts to draw attention to Iranian efforts to export weapons and missiles in violation of UN mandates.

Kolam Lynch is a senior foreign correspondent on foreign affairs diplomacy at the United Nations.

Colam Lynch
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