The United States and Ukraine were the only countries that voted at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday against a yearly resolution that condemns the glorification of Nazism while Australia, Canada and EU members abstained (130-2 with 51 abstentions).
The resolution formally titled “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” calls on all UN member nations to ban pro-Nazi speech and entities, and to take other restrictions on speech and assembly.
The recurrent resolution has passed without difficulty for years – usually overwhelmingly with little fanfare at the 193-member General Assembly. Despite U.S. pressure to vote “no”, Israel whose history is intertwined with the Holocaust supported the resolution as in previous years.
Although it may seem counterintuitive – none of the countries whether voted against or abstained like Nazis, the Western democracies primarily concerned over the free speech protections, rights of peaceful assembly and association and other problems in the resolution.
It is widely seen as devised by Russia to isolate Ukraine and several other East European countries where anti-Russian sentiment, especially against Russia’s military interventions has contributed to the government-led and grassroots honoring of the Nazi Germany-affiliated state and non-state forces who fought against the Soviet Union during the world wars.
Jason Mack, Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs at the United States Mission to the United Nations explains why the US has voted against each new version of this resolution since 2005.
“We honor the valiant contributions and the heroism and sacrifice of allied nations and their service members in the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. We also join the international community in condemning the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and intolerance. In fighting against the murderous tyranny of Nazism, the United States also fought for the freedom, dignity and human rights of all – including our steadfast commitment to freedom of expression.”
“Today, however, the United States must express opposition to this resolution, a document most notable for its thinly veiled attempts to legitimize longstanding Russian disinformation narratives denigrating neighboring nations under the cynical guise of halting Nazi glorification.
“The United States Supreme Court has consistently affirmed the constitutional right to freedom of speech and the rights of peaceful assembly and association, including by avowed Nazis, whose hatred and xenophobia are widely scorned by the American people. At the same time, we steadfastly defend the constitutional rights of those who exercise their rights to combat intolerance and express strong opposition to the odious Nazi creed and others espousing similar hatreds.”
“Despite consistently expressing our concerns with the Russian delegation and proposing revisions to protect against unacceptable restrictions on freedom of expression, our recommendations, intended to improve and strengthen this resolution, have been ignored.
“For these reasons, the United States has voted against each new version of this resolution since 2005 and is, again, compelled to vote “No” on this resolution, and calls on other States to do the same.
Although no official statement has been made, in line with the Foreign Policy White Paper and traditional policy direction, Australia acts along with its allies and like-minded partners within the international organizations to advance its interests and support US global leadership, especially in the areas of human rights, trade, terrorism, security, refugees, and strengthening of rules-based order.
More importantly, problems with free speech protections and restrictions on other fundamental rights in this particular resolution, very likely, make it impossible for Australia to support it. Australia is a party to seven core international human rights treaties and has a relatively good track record on free speech.
So, like most of the Western democracies, Australia finds itself in a bind.
Ukraine was the only country besides the US voting against the resolution.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine explained its opposition with the Russia’s current repressive policy, its attempt to take full credit for the victory over the Nazi Germany, and omission of important elements in the resolution, including numerous mass crimes, including genocide, deportation and repression by Stalin’s Soviet regime.
“By contributing to the victory of humanity over Nazism and surviving the seventy-year-old oppression of the communist regime, the Ukrainian people consistently condemn the crimes of totalitarian regimes and how no one else seeks to put an end to human hatred ideologies, such as Nazism and neo-Nazism, around the world.
“Our state is also consistently advocating for human rights, the rule of law and democracy as the key to preventing new authoritarian regimes, which have become the main triggers of the most bloody crimes in Europe in the twentieth century, both against their own citizens and against entire peoples.
“The text of the draft resolution also silent the fact that the end of World War II was not the final victory over totalitarian ideologies, and one of its results was, on the contrary, the enslavement of individual European peoples and the strengthening of the communist totalitarian regime responsible for many mass crimes, including genocides, deportations, repression.
“Besides, current Russia is all justifying the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which has unleashed hands on Nazi and Communist regimes to implement their aggressive plans from Europe.
The text of the resolution also lacks Soviet mass terror, which, in addition to national and ethnic, occurred by the so-called class and social sign, which had resulted in a full-time labeling of the ′′ enemy of the people ′′ that mostly led to their physical extinction.
“The Russian Federation continues to stubbornly deny recognition of the genocide of the Ukrainian people of the Holodomor organization of 1932-1933 years and deportation of the Crimean Tatar people of 1944 as well as other peoples.
“At the same time, Russia not only does not condemn the crimes of the communist regime, but also widely fueled chauvinist and xenophobic moods in Russian society and heroizes the image of Stalin. It’s a shame, but this year the Russian side went even further and tried to turn the UN GA document into the heroization of the communist and Soviet past, including the Stalinist regime, adding to the project a position to protect their symbolism.
“The recent decision of the Russian court against Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev, who is known for his research on Stalinistic great terror, and in particular the tragedy in Sandarmokh, where the famous representatives of Ukrainian revival were shot.
“And don’t forget that while one hand the Kremlin introduces a resolution against the heroization of Nazism with one hand, it generously supports radical movements that profess extreme ideologies both left and right spectrum.
“The end of aggression against Ukraine, restoration of respect for international law and good recognition and condemnation of the crimes of the communist totalitarian regime should be a real affirmation of Moscow’s commitment to fight intolerance and racial discrimination.