U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley – president of the UN Security Council for the month of April – denied Bolivia’s urgent, early morning request for a closed session of the UNSC on Friday, April 7, and did so in a spectacularly public fashion, tweeting her reply:
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) April 7, 2017
Given the remarkable rhetorical whipping Bolivia’s UN representative, Sacha Llorenti, subsequently gave the former Governor of South Carolina, she may take a different tack next time.
Llorenti’s fourteen minute address to the UNSC was a tour de force – a critique of unilateral military action by the U.S. (it violates the UN charter), an analysis of previous emotional appeals for urgent action (think Colin Powell in 2003), as well as a reminder of the United States’ long history of interventionism in Latin America. Llorenti also called the UNSC to task for its internal structure, which grants considerably more power upon its five permanent members than it does its ten non-permanent members.
It was a remarkable anti-imperialist display. Read a partial transcript and/or watch the full video below.
A Partial Transcript of Llorenti’s Address to the Security Council
While we were discussing the words that could be used in a resolution considered by this council, and while the permanent and non-permanent members put forward proposals for the text of such a resolution, the United States was preparing once again, and carried out, a unilateral attack. The missile attack, of course, is a unilateral action that represents a serious threat to international peace and security.
Why? Because over the last seventy years mankind has been establishing, building a structure – not just a physical structure, not just an institutional structure – but also a legal structure. We have established instruments of international law precisely to prevent a situation in which the most powerful attack the weakest with impunity, and to ensure a balance in the world and of course to avoid serious violations of international peace and security.
We believe it to be the duty of this Security Council, but not just the Security Council, of the United Nations and all its bodies to defend multilateralism.
We are here to defend multilateralism. We have agreed that this charter [holding a copy of the UN charter], the United Nations charter, must be respected. And the charter prohibits unilateral actions. Any action must be authorized by the Security Council in accordance with the charter.
We represent the 193 Member States of this Organization, and through them, the peoples of the world.
While we were discussing the need for an independent investigation, an impartial investigation, a complete investigation into these attacks, the United States has become that investigator, has become the prosecutor, has become the judge, has become the jury. So, where is the investigation which would allow us to establish in an objective manner who is responsible for the attack?
This is an extremely, extremely serious violation of international law.
On Wednesday the 5th of February 2003, the then Secretary of State of the United States of America came to this room to present to us – according to his own words, “convincing proof” – that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
I believe that we must absolutely remember these pictures. In this very hall we were told that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that this was the motivation for an invasion. After that invasion there were 1 million deaths, and it launched a series of atrocities in that region. Could we talk about ISIS if that invasion had not taken place? Could we be talking about this series of horrendous attacks in various parts of the world, had this illegal invasion not taken place?
I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us.
When it’s not in line with their interests, then multilateralism is not important any more. When it suits them, multilateralism is fine. The United Nations is fine. But when it doesn’t, when their interests are not in line, well they’re not interested in either the United Nations or in human rights or in democracy.
When we unequivocally condemn chemical attacks, we’re saying the Security Council must not be used as an echo chamber for interventionism. The Security Council should not be used as a pawn to sacrifice on a chessboard, the chessboard of war.
This Security Council of the United Nations is the final hope that we have to guarantee international peace and security principles and the international rule of law.
Madam President, also I’d like to point out that it’s absolutely vital as you have convened
this meeting in a very transparent way, that we demonstrate the concern that unfortunately there are first-class and second-class members of the Security Council. The permanent members not only have the right to a veto, but they control the procedures, they control the decision-making, and the other ten, we may be involved if we are consulted. We are convened occasionally, sometimes just to underwrite the positions of others. This is not multilateralism.
Bolivia would like to reiterate its robust condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, or the use of chemical weapons to conduct criminal acts, irrespective of their motivation, whenever it may be, wherever it may be, and by whomsoever it may be committed, and we do reiterate that we demand when these cases take place that we invest in independent, impartial and conclusive investigations.
Unfortunately the attacks yesterday were an unlawful attack on the joint investigative mechanism.