Western countries pride themselves on defending human rights and upholding order across the globe, yet their actions undermine trust and peace and create more chaos and suffering, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
The rhetoric of liberalism, democracy and human rights “goes hand in hand with the policies of inequality, injustice, selfishness and a belief in their own exceptionalism,” Lavrov wrote in an essay published in the ‘Russia in Global Affairs’ magazine. While maintaining diplomatic decorum, the essay is a scathing condemnation of unipolar hypocrisy that the Russian FM argued represents a betrayal of principles laid down by the victorious allies at the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations.
Individual rights and freedoms are incompatible with sanctions, economic blockades, and “overt military threats” to states like Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran and Syria, the minister said. Bombing and regime change campaigns in places like Libya and Iraq have destroyed their statehood and killed tens of thousands.
How does the bombing of sovereign nations [and] the deliberate policy of destroying their statehood … add up to the imperative of protecting human rights?
Another concept the West frequently invokes is the so-called ‘rules-based order.’ However, the ‘rules’ in question are being invented by the Western politicians themselves and “selectively” applied to serve their own needs, using this trick to “usurp the decision-making process” from others, Lavrov said.
A recent example of this deceptive tactic by the West was the strong-arming of the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Western nations first accused Syria of chemical attacks, “without any proof.” They then manipulated the OPCW procedures to grant the organization powers to name the culprits in chemical warfare, while bypassing the UN Security Council. Lavrov called this “a dangerous phenomenon of revisionism,” which undermines the UN and paves the way for further confrontation.
Lavrov brought up the US leaving landmark arms control treaties as another example of rogue behavior. Washington ditched the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this August. The same thing happened to the painstakingly-negotiated 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear program, scrapped by the US last year. The US has even hinted at lifting the ban on deploying weapons in space.
US trade wars and sanctions boil down to Washington wanting to gain “competitive advantages by non-market methods,” only adding to the growing instability and deepening international mistrust, according to Lavrov.
By contrast, Russia is proposing that the world move on from the imperial mindset of the 19th and 20th centuries, when the world was dominated by a handful of powers. Today’s world is polycentric, meaning all states must consider “the approaches and concerns of all those taking part in the international relations without an exception.” Only this will guarantee a stable and secure future, Lavrov argued.
Most countries don’t want to be held hostage to someone else’s geopolitical calculations and are determined to conduct nationally oriented domestic and foreign policies.
Moscow is offering to use the G20 format to its fullest potential and reform the UN Security Council, where “the West is unfairly overrepresented.” A reformed body will do a better job at respecting the interests of Asian, African and Latin American nations, as well as upholding the “broadest consensus” among the UN members.
Aiming for consensus and diplomacy instead of threats and pressure is crucial in today’s politics, Lavrov noted, concluding his essay with a quote from long-term Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko, “Better to have ten years of negotiations than one day of war.”