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Text of Boris Yeltsin’s Speech to the U.N. Security Council With UN-Summit, Bjt

January 31, 1992 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Here is the text of the speech Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president, delivered Friday to the U.N. Security Council. The English translation was provided by the Russian government.


This summit meeting of the Security Council, the first of its kind on the political Olympus of the contemporary world, is a historic and unprecedented event. The end of the 20th century is a time of great promise and new anxieties. The never-ending search for truth and an insight into what the future has in store for humanity seems to be getting its second wind.


Perhaps, for the first time ever there is now a real chance to put an end to despotism and to dismantle the totalitarian order, whatever shape it may take.

I trust that after all the unthinkable tragedies and tremendous losses that it has suffered, mankind will reject this legacy. It will not allow the 21st century to bring new suffering and deprivations to our children and grandchildren.

The process of profound change is already under way in various spheres of life and above all in the economy.

It is a problem that concerns not just individual nations or states, but the entire humanity. After all, an economy mutilated by ideological diktat and built contrary to all common sense forms the principal material basis of totalitarianism.

A profound awareness of this casual relationship has led the Russian leadership to embark upon a most difficult economic reform. We have taken that risk in a country where an all-out war was waged against economic interests for many decades.

I am grateful to the world community for its support of our efforts and for the understanding that not only in the future of the people of Russia, but also that of the entire planet, largely depends on whether or not the reforms are successful.

I am also grateful to Russians for their courage and patience. They should take a great deal of credit for the fact that the world community is breaking with its totalitarian past.


Democracy is one of the major assets of human civilization.

All times and all countries have known people who stood up to defend it without sparing themselves. The people of Russia defended democracy near the walls of our Moscow White House.

Now we must accomplish the most difficult task, that is the creation of legal, political and socio-economic guarantees to make democratic changes irreversible.


All of us carry a huge burden of mutual mistrust. It is no secret that a most profound abyss has separated the two states, which until recently were referred to as the superpowers.

This abyss must be bridged. That is the wish of our nations and the will of the presidents of the United States of America and the Russian Federation.

The new political situation in the world makes it possible not only to advance new original ideas but also to make even the most ambitious of them practicable.

Our proposals have been outlined in our messages to the U.N. Secretary- General, Mr. Boutros-Ghali and the U.S. President, Mr. George Bush.

Russia believes that the time has come to considerably reduce the presence of means of destruction on our planet.

I am convinced that together we are capable of making the principle of minimum defense sufficiency a fundamental law of existence of contemporary states.

Today there are real opportunities for:

-implementing deep cuts in strategic offensive arms and tactical nuclear weapons;

-resolutely moving toward significant limitations on nuclear testing and even toward its complete cessation;

-making ABM defense less complicated and costly and eliminating anti- satellite systems;

-considerably reducing conventional armaments and armed forces;

-ensuring practical implementation of international agreements on the prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons;

-enhancing the reliability of barriers to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The problem of experts engaged in the development and production of such weapons, including nuclear physicists, has lately become a top priority.

No country has the right to use its talents for political gains at the expense of international security.

Russia is fully aware of its own responsibility and is taking steps to provide social security to such experts.

At the same time we support the idea of establishing international centers which could coordinate appropriate research and support the most promising areas of work.

I think the time has come to consider creating a global system for protection of the world community. It could be based on a reorientation of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to make use of high technologies developed in Russia’s defense complex.

We are ready to actively participate in building and putting in place a pan-European collective defense system, in particular in the Vienna talks and in the upcoming post-Helsinki II talks on security and cooperation in Europe.

Russia considers the United States and the West not as mere partners but rather as allies. It is a basic prerequisite for, I would say, a revolution in peaceful cooperation among civilized nations.

We reject any subordination of foreign policy to pure ideology or ideological doctrines. Our principles are clear and simple: supremacy of democracy, human rights and freedoms, legal and moral standards.

I hope this is something that our partners in the Commonwealth of Independent States also hold dear. We support their earliest admission to the United Nations and believe that this will have a beneficial impact on the evolution of the Commonwealth itself.

This Commonwealth has been formed by the participating states on the basis of full equality and of their own free will, it rests on natural human ties among millions of people.

Russia is fully aware of its responsibility for making the Commonwealth of Independent States a tangible factor of stability in the world.

This applies above all to nuclear forces. The participating states of the Commonwealth share the view that nuclear weapons are an integral part of the strategic forces of the Commonwealth under a single command and unified control.

Today, talks are under way about the future of the armed forces of the former U.S.S.R. The main task is to carry out their transformation in a civilized manner and on a clearly defined legal basis.

Our topmost priority is to ensure all human rights and freedoms in their entirety, including political and civil rights and decent socio-economic and environmental living standards.

I believe that these questions are not an internal matter of states but rather their obligations under the U.N. Charter, the International Covenants and conventions. We want to see this approach become a universal norm. The Security Council is called upon to underscore the civilized world’s collective responsibility for the protection of human rights and freedoms.

In the near-future, Russia intends to adopt legislative acts that will reflect the highest international standards in the field of protection of human freedom, honor and dignity.

We are prepared to accede to the international instruments on migration as well as to join in the efforts of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. I believe that the experience of the world community in these areas will be useful for Russia and other states of the Commonwealth.

A few days ago, the 10 remaining political prisoners were granted pardon by a decree of the president of the Russian Federation.

There are no more prisoners of conscience in free Russia.


Ladies and gentlemen, a special role in establishing a new international climate in the world belongs to the United Nations.

This organization has stood the test of time and managed even in the ice- cold age of confrontation to preserve the nascent norms of civilized international cohabitation contained in its Charter.

We welcome the U.N.’s increased efforts to strengthen global and regional stability and build a new democratic world order based on the equality of all states, big or small.

Russia is prepared to continue partnership among the permanent members of the Security Council. The current climate in the activities of this body is conducive to cooperative and constructive work.

For us, the peacemaking experiences of the United Nations is particularly valuable.

The new Russian diplomacy will contribute in every possible way to the final settlement of conflicts in various regions of the world, which have been unblocked with the assistance of the United Nations. We are ready to become more fully engaged in these efforts.

We will make use of the effective role of the United Nations and the Security Council and take part in the search for lasting solutions to the Yugoslav and Afghan problems and for a normalization of the situation in the Near and Middle East and in Cambodia and in other regions.

I believe that we need a special quick-response mechanism to ensure peace and stability. Upon decision of the Security Council it could be expeditiously activated in areas of crisis.

We are prepared to become practically involved in U.N. peacekeeping operations and contribute to their logistical support.

My country firmly supports steps aimed at asserting the rule of law throughout the world. It is necessary to enhance the prestige of the International Court of Justice as an effective instrument of peaceful settlement of international disputes.

On the whole, I think it is high time we considered launching a serious reform in the United Nations. The world has changed and certain areas of U.N. activities have lost their relevance. Apparently we should forego those structures that yield no practical benefits to the member-states.

We are ready to present our suggestions regarding a reform of the United Nations.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a historical irony that the Russian Federation, a state with an age-long experience in foreign policy and diplomacy has only just appeared on the political map of the world.

I am confident that the world community will find in Russia, as an equal participant of the international relations and a permanent member of the Security Council, a firm and steadfast champion of freedom, democracy and humanism.

Last year’s events have confirmed that the nations of the world have now come of age and are capable of adopting responsible and meaningful decisions.

This was vividly demonstrated by the developments in the Gulf when our joint efforts resulted in just punishment of the aggressor and by the defeat of the coup in Moscow last August.

Difficult work lies ahead for us all to consolidate the positive trends in the evolution of today’s world and to make them irreversible. It is only on this basis that we can ensure a decent and prosperous life for our nations and every individual.

Russia is prepared to do all it can to achieve this goal.

In conclusion, permit me to wish you, Mr. Boutros-Ghali, every success in your important post of U.N. Secretary-General.

Thank you.