The Security Council today failed to adopt a resolution put forth by the Russian Federation to set up a commission consisting of all members of the Council to investigate its complaint about the non-compliance by the United States and Ukraine with their obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.
The draft resolution only received support from one other Council Member — China — with France, the United States and the United Kingdom voting against it, and the 10 remaining Council members abstaining from voting.
Through the draft resolution, the 15-member Council would have decided to set up a commission to investigate the complaint of the Russian Federation in the context of the activities of biological laboratories in the territory of Ukraine, as well as present to the 15-member organ a report on the issue containing recommendations by 30 November 2022 and inform the States parties to the Convention at its Ninth Review Conference to be held in Geneva on 28 November–16 December 2022 of the results of the investigation.
The draft would also have the Council request the Secretary-General and the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit provide, within their respective mandates, all necessary assistance to the commission.
By other terms, the draft would have the Council recall that, under article VI of the Convention, its States parties cooperate in carrying out any investigation which the organ may initiate, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, on the basis of the complaint received by the Council.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said the vote represented “a considerable milestone” for the Security Council. Since his country set out its position on the issue before the Council on 27 October, two rounds of expert consultation took place on the draft, which prompted some Council Members to reach “unilateral conclusions”, he said, adding that he expected that the vote will reflect respect for international law and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and hoped for support from Council members who do not fear angering Washington, D.C., and its satellites.
Following the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation voiced disappointment that the Council did not manage to activate the mechanism provided for under article VI of the Biological Weapons Convention. Regardless of the outcome of today’s vote, his delegation will continue to make all efforts to establish all facts related to the non-compliance by the United States and Ukraine with the Convention, in the context of the activities of the biological laboratories in Ukrainian territory.
The delegate of the United States agreed with the representative of the Russian Federation that the meeting marked a milestone, stressing: “It is a milestone, for the Russian Federation’s deception and lies.” Recalling that during a consultative meeting under article V of the Biological Weapons Convention in September in Geneva her country and Ukraine went through the Russian Federation’s allegations “point by point and debunked every single one”, she added: “When they failed in Geneva, they raised their false claims here, abusing its position and abusing us.”
Echoing such points, the representative of the United Kingdom said her country voted against the resolution to protect the integrity of the Convention and prevent it from being undermined by unfounded accusations. The Russian Federation’s allegations have no credible basis in fact and its long-standing disinformation efforts undermine peaceful biological cooperation under article X, she said, urging the Council to defend peaceful biological cooperation against unfounded malicious allegations.
France’s delegate said his country also voted against the draft, having evaluated the so-called evidence in detail and concluding that the allegations are unfounded. “If words are stripped of their meaning, and if truth and lies are considered on an equal footing, diplomacy is no longer possible,” he stressed.
The representative of Mexico stated that his country had abstained because the provisions of article VI of the Convention had not been fulfilled. Recalling that the party alleging such violations needs to provide evidence to activate the next step, he pointed out that the Russian Federation has not done so either in the debate or in the consultation process for the draft resolution.
Meanwhile, the representative of China said that he voted in favour of the draft as questions put forth by the Russian Federation about biological activities taking place in Ukraine during a formal consultative meeting in September were not answered.
Also speaking today were representatives of India, Ireland, Albania, Norway, Kenya, Brazil, United Arab Emirates and Ghana.