The support of Russia and China

The core grouping of the OIC and the African Group was further buttressed in its support by Russia and China. Russia said:

Russia believes that sexual orientation is an element of private life of a separately taken individual and one cannot interfere in this. This is a deeply individual choice according to one’s models in particular relationships which does not lead to the need for the creation of any specific conditions for the implementation of such a choice – a particular system of protection for those who take this particular choice. In Russia human rights is extended to all. Women, elderly, people with disabilities, homosexuals, teachers, or astronauts, young people or representatives of national or religious minorities.

And what we see today, is a small group of countries who are suggesting that we set up a separate legal regime for the protection of those who take a choice for a certain model of personal relationships.

We will refrain from any comments with respect to whether this choice is a natural one. We will simply note that many thousands of years of human development were carried out by those who did not have this kind of a choice.

The establishment of an Independent Expert by the Council on issues only with respect to private matters is not something that we can see as anything else other than imposing specific behavioral models and we are against such an approach, which would simply facilitate further politicization…

In conclusion, Sir, bearing in mind the aforementioned, the Russian Federation will vote against the resolution on this post of an Independent Expert on issues of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and will not cooperate with it if it is established.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, underlined the importance of respecting the different cultural and judicial systems, and stressed the need to address human rights issues through constructive dialogue, rather than to impose views on others. Further, the Council was facing financial constraints, and therefore China was opposed to the creation of new mandates.

Russian and Chinese opposition to the resolution may not have much to do with the opposition of the OIC countries (i.e. that it is against religion or culture). Rather the opposition should be viewed as a wider opposition to the norm of universal human rights. Both Russia and China are strong proponents of a state-centric vision of international law with little space for the notion of human rights. Thus the opposition to what Russia calls ‘behaviour models’ is in effect an opposition to the idea of individual rights. China in its invocation to respect different cultural and legal systems seeks to place state sovereignty on a higher pedestal than individual human rights.