Anyone interested in international politics knows that the UN Security Council, in addition to traditional meetings to consider the issues of peace and security, often gathers for so-called Arria-formula informal meetings. Various issues are discussed at these forums, which are convened by members of the UN Security Council, who want to address certain topics.
Speakers or individuals, to whom they want to convey a particular message, are invited to such meetings. Currently, Russia is actively using the format created by Arria to spread disinformation and try to justify the war against Ukraine.
The Arria formula was initiated by Venezuelan diplomat Diego Arria in 1992, when his country was a member of the UN Security Council. He took an active part in the trial of war criminals from the former Yugoslavia.
Currently, the initiator of this format is in exile and lives in New York. His country, ruled by dictator Madura, persecutes Arria for his democratic beliefs.
We are talking to the patriarch of world diplomacy after another Arria-formula meeting convened by Russia on Friday to accuse Ukraine... of a war against itself.
RUSSIA IS USING ARRIA FORMAT FOR OTHER THAN ITS INTENDED PURPOSE – TO DEFEND AGGRESSION AGAINST A NEIGHBORING STATE
- Mr. Arria, on Friday, Russia held a meeting under the formula named in your honor, where it talked about the alleged war that Ukraine is waging in Donbas. How do you feel about such manipulative ways of using this meeting format?
- Well, I saw the procedure, and it was absolutely wrong. Wrong! The origin of the Arria format was to open the Security Council for the defense of human rights and freedom all over the world. It was to be joined by members of governments or institutions that had been mistreated or vandalized by regimes.
It was never, never intended to be used by a criminal regime, like Putin’s regime, to descend to the impossible in order to justify aggression against a peaceful neighboring country. I felt so bad today because after all, it has my name... the Russian mission is misusing what was so valuable to the international community.
- In your opinion, as an experienced diplomat, does Russia have the right to be a member of the UN Security Council, given its gross violation of the UN Charter?
- I tell you, in a fairer world, it would be unthinkable for a country like Russia to be a member of the Security Council. But as you know, this is a system that we inherited since the Second World War. And it has allowed Russia to actually try to bury the United Nations Charter. And when Russia presided over the Security Council in February last year, they were representing the Security Council, and at the same time, Putin invaded Ukraine.
That was a very strong message to the world. He could not care less for the United Nations Charter. He could not care less for the world's opinion. That is actually the public position that Putin has today.
- Is there any real way to remove Russia from the UN Security Council?
- Well, you know, if I had an opportunity to initiate this, I would try, even knowing that it might not succeed. But I think a movement to remove Russia from the United Nations Security Council is a worthwhile exercise because it makes it possible to further reveal more crimes to the world, the issue of responsibility, and why it should not be a member of the Security Council.
But, as I already said, this is far from a guaranteed victory, because it's a complicated process. It requires about two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly, and its decisions must then be approved by national parliaments. It is a complicated process because, after all, the UN Charter was created largely according to the wishes of five permanent members, and of course, it was written in a way to protect itself.
- Do you follow the activities of the UN Security Council and international politics in general?
- I do. I am a member of the Security Council Report commission. And I've been there now for five or six years. So I follow that, and of course, I follow the Arria-formula meetings too.
The Russians have discovered the value of the Arria-formula because now they broadcast it on television, as you know. Therefore, it goes beyond the small room of the United Nations. They are transmitting falsehood to the world. Moreover, they have created falsehood to deny the crimes they are committing in Ukraine.
Yes, I do follow them…
- Do you support the expansion of the Security Council by increasing the number of its members? Or depriving permanent members of the right to veto?
- You know, if the veto did not exist, the United States, China, and Russia would not be members of the Security Council. Actually... When the United Nation was being created, two countries insisted on the introduction of the right of veto - the Soviet Union and the United States.
RUSSIA'S PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE IS AT A DEMENTIA STAGE
- Have you heard about the war mosquitoes that Ukraine is allegedly preparing for the war with Russia, secret biolabs, dirty bombs, and chemical weapons of Ukraine? All this absurdity was spread by Russia and its representative Nebenzya through the UN Security Council.
- Well, Nebenzya is at a dementia stage... I think I heard something, but I'm not so sure, what did you mean by that?
- That there are biological laboratories in our country, where Ukraine together with the USA produce some sort of bacteria for mosquitoes, birds, and other animals, and spread them to Russia to infect them…
- Well, as I say this is a dementia stage that the Russian ambassador has...
- It was reported in the media that the UN is teeming with Russian spies. Did you feel this when you worked here?
- It was different. Because I was working more during the time of Yeltsin.
Well, I think I lived almost the honeymoon of the world, which did not last very long, but it was a world that was very united between 1990 and 1993, you know, when the decision on the Iraq war was adopted unanimously, etc. So, it was a different Russia, not a criminal Russia like Putin's Russia today.
- Do you maintain any connection with your homeland, Venezuela?
- Well, I am a political exile... I have an arrest warrant issued by the military regime of Venezuela. For the last seven years, I have not been able to return to my country, where I have an arrest warrant.
After fighting for so many years for freedom all over the world, I find myself with my freedom suspended.
And I actively follow the Venezuelan political process, being an exile.
HISTORY TEACHES US THAT JUSTICE WILL REACH DICTATORS
- I see. You know very well what a dictator is. What do you think awaits Putin and Lukashenko?
- You know, I was a witness against Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague. And when we met in 1990 or 1991, neither he nor anybody in the international community thought that one day we would prosecute him.
10 years later, I was a witness against him when we prosecuted him as we did also with General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic.
So, those people believe that you know, justice will never reach them. The history, historical background tells you that yes, you can get them, and justice will reach them.
You know, I follow events in Ukraine very closely, and I'm willing to do whatever is necessary.. I would be very pleased to help in any way I can, as I did in the case of Muslims.
I have just published a book called “War and Terrorism in the Heart of Europe”.
Just as it once allowed Milosevic to do so, though it could have stopped him, just as it could have stopped Putin in 2014.
You can look at the summary in English on Amazon. You know, the cases of Yugoslavia and Ukraine have many similarities.
Milosevic used people that have Serbian origin or links with Serbia in certain parts of Croatia and Bosnia. It’s exactly what Putin did in Crimea. It is the same script, but the international community has allowed them to repeat the same script. They once allowed Milosevic to do so, though they could have stopped him, as well as they could have stopped Putin in 2014.- Thank you so much. I was very pleased to communicate with such a legendary person as you.
Volodymyr Ilchenko, New York
Photo: United Nations Watch