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Welcome to the UN Library and Archives Geneva's Audio Research Guide! Here you'll find episodes from our own podcast, The Next Page, as well as podcasts and audio from or on the UN system and multilateralism.

Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan on Armenia, multilateralism, and strengthening what unites us

by Yunshi Liang on 2022-04-13T09:03:00+02:00 in Member States, Europe, Security, UN Library & Archives Research Tools, Refugees, Politics and International Relations, Human Rights, United Nations, League of Nations | Comments

 

 Natalie Alexander

Hello everyone, I’m Natalie Alexander, and welcome to The Next Podcast, designed to advance the conversation of multilateralism.

This episode continues our series of conversations with Ambassadors to the United Nations Geneva, where we explore their experiences as diplomats in a multilateral system and what the UN means for them today.

Today, our Director at the UN Library & Archives Geneva, Francesco Pisano, is joined by the Permanent Representative and Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the UN in Geneva, Andranik Hovhannisyan.

This year, 2022, Armenia marks 40 years of accession to the United Nations. Let’s take a listen to their conversation.

 Francesco Pisano

Welcome, everyone to this new episode of The Next Page, the podcast of the UN Geneva Library and Archives. We're continuing today our ambassador series that brings to you ambassadors and permanent representatives of member states of the UN, talking about their countries that nations their aspirations and role in the UN.

Today I have immense pleasure and honor to have with us Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan, who is the Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations in Geneva. He has become ambassador in 2019. He did his studies in Egypt, Armenia in the US. He holds a PhD in History. And this is one of the reasons why he likes hanging around in our library and archives, and his experience as a diplomat ranges from international security to being the advisor to Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

So Ambassador, welcome to our podcast!

 Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan

Thank you very much. It's indeed a pleasure to be here, and allow me to outset to start by thanking you for this kind invitation.

You mentioned that I have an academic background. I'm historian and I'm specialized in the Middle East history. When I was doing studies in Cairo for Arabic language, I made also an internship at the Embassy of Armenia. There I fell in love with diplomacy. Shortly soon, I joined our diplomatic service in Armenia, and my overseas postings included Damascus, Vietnam, Washington DC and now Geneva. Of course, I spent a lot of time also at the headquarters. But history continues to be another passion of mine, which comes from my parents. Both of them were historians, and very much engaged in academic life of Armenia. I think that knowledge of history is a condition indispensable for diplomats. Because you know, diplomats themselves are bureaucrats, but not in a boring manner. As bureaucrats, we have to go also to see the previous practices, the historical facts, not to repeat the mistakes that were done previously, but also to learn from them, build on the previous achievements to come to new goals.

 Francesco Pisano

Thank you, Ambassador for this introduction. Now, let's go a little bit to an overview of Armenia and its key historical moments for those who don't know your country that well. How would you briefly present Armenia? And what are the key moments of its history?

 Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan

I have done research myself and you would test a lot of information about Armenia with library tool. However, it's very difficult to you know, speak about the history of Armenia within the scope of one program. It's a huge history, a long history, and it is as old as the history itself. Bearing in mind and suffice to recall that references to Armenia were made by the first written documents that are known to the mankind. Furthermore, Armenia is mentioned in the Holy Bible. Herodotus himself made references to Armenian. You know, Herodotus is considered credited to be the father of the history. So only to give you a glimpse, maybe a concise view about Armenian history, recall all those empires with whom Armenia had close interaction, starting all the way back to the Assyrian, Babylonian, ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Byzantine, Arab, Mongol, Russian, you name it. There are so many of those. Some of them are no longer on the political map, but Armenians still are living there on the places that we have inhabited for centuries.

When it comes to cultural exchanges. The geography is much larger, of course, and the traces of Armenians can be found all the way from Netherlands to China, from Venice to Madras to Bombay. These are of course, the famous trade routes and Armenian merchants played a significant role on those trade routes. The reminiscence of the past can be also found now in Armenian churches, founded and still present in Amsterdam, in Singapore, and all the way in between. One does not need to go all the way to Armenia to get acquainted with Armenian culture and history. It can be easily done as close as Venice where Armenian congregation of Macarius was founded in 1717. And it still continues to be one of the important cultural and historical scientific centers of Armenia. And our branch of this congregation is in Vienna again, harboring an impressive museum and library. From ancient times. Armenian Quarter of all city of Jerusalem harbors another significant cultural religious place of Armenia. And there are many other places around the world like that.

However, if one wants to thoroughly know our culture and people of course, one should go to Armenia. The capital itself is 2800 years old. The inscription about its birth certificate is now kept in the Museum of History of Armenia. Not far from Yerevan, we have another important place for our nation. It's Holy Etchmiadzin where the Armenian Catholicos, the supreme leader of Armenian Apostolic Church is residing. The cathedral there dates to the 4th century. However, there are also not just Christian monuments and sites in Armenia but also pre-Christian. Not far again from Yerevan, one can find the magnificent Greco Roman Hellenistic style temple built by Armenian King Tiridates in the 1st century. And just very recently, most eastward Roman aqueduct was excavated in Armenia, in the ruins of capital city Artaxata. The Artaxata itself was believed, and ancient historians were writing about it, that it was founded by Hannibal, the powerful king of Cartagena, who was a close ally of Armenian King.

Now, if you ask me about the key moments in the history, I guess it's very difficult to mention only few while keeping the others. But in a very natural and in a very brief and selective manner, maybe I can outline several of them. 301 is the year when Armenia adopted Christianity as a first nation in the world to do so. 405 is the creation of Armenian alphabet. 1475, the loss of our independent statehood. Since we talked in the walls of a library, I cannot keep the year 1512. Remember, the first book was printed in Armenian. The next date in our history is written in black numbers. It is the 1915, the beginning of Armenian Genocide. But the next two dates are also very important. It's 1918, the creation of our independence, and 1991 the reestablishment of a current Republic of Armenia. I could have added to this list a long number of battles and wars, that Armenian nation waged throughout history to defend its culture, its identity, but I will stop here.

 Francesco Pisano

Indeed, Armenia has such a long and fascinating history. If we zoom in into the region that Armenia is in, let's say, geographically speaking, the South Caucasus. It is a region with a very dynamic history, especially in the 19th and 20th century. For the benefit of our audience, because your country sits at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and western Asia, geographically speaking, I wonder, what is today's regional role of Armenia in that region that has such a dynamic history? And also, if you may add, what are the main hopes and challenges of Armenia as a nation in today's world, more globally speaking?

 Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan

Well, our aspirations are probably the same as with many other nations. Here we are not unique. What we want is peace, stability, the possibility of living in an atmosphere free of wars, dividing lines, and conflict.

However, I believe what makes us probably distinctive is that more than many other nations, Armenians know the true value of peace. This is due to our historical experience, since we didn't have that many periods in our history marked by peace and stability, and have always been obliged to struggle for our rights. Being situated at the crossroads, as you mentioned, of course, largely defined our history. Some scholars would call it "a curse over history", or as Robert Kaplan called it a “revenge of history.” But it is interesting that also, Sir Winston Churchill refers to the Armenian history in these terms, also calling in his words that the misfortune of Armenians is very much defined by this geographic location because it was on the crossroads of different empires and invaders throughout almost all of its history. It is also interesting that Sir Winston Churchill refers to the Armenian massacres, calling them by the word "holocaust". At that time the word "genocide" was not invented yet. When in the 1940s Raphael Lemkin coined the word, he specifically referred to the Armenian Genocide. Indeed, the rise and fall of empires are a painful experience, of course, especially so for the small nations who sometimes find themselves buried under the ruins of big empires. In our case, we have witnessed the fall and collapse of more than one Empire, more than once, in one century alone. So they very much defined of course, our history. Not having an independent statehood, Armenia had significantly contributed to the victory of Allies, both during the First and Second World Wars. I guess that this was also the reason why Armenia was invited among the victorious stage to participate in the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The head of Armenian delegation made an application to the League of Nations at that time asking for Armenia submission, and this document is carefully kept in your archives, and I was happy and really touched to see it during my first visit to the library.

Our short lived independent political farming of 1918-1920 was the history of the First Republic which was marked by the wars and conflicts. One of them was on defending Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. At that time Nagorno-Karabakh had 93% of Armenian population. It has never been part of independent Azerbaijan. During the Soviet times, first Nagorno-Karabakh was recognized as part of Soviet Armenia. But then due to an overnight change, it was incorporated into Azerbaijan. Even though the borders of the Soviet Union were largely administrative, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia never agreed to that decision, because that was taken illegally and against the will of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, so the catastrophically forced nature of this decision came to surface once again as the evil dissolution of the Soviet Union, when the people of Nagorno-Karabakh started a peaceful movement for self-determination, which was reacted by use of force and massacres. As the last year war in Nagorno-Karabakh vividly demonstrated again, the conflict continues to ruin the peaceful life and it is far from being settled.

But since I touched upon the First World War, let me also very briefly touch upon also the Second World War and its impact on Armenia, because it is well known these two Wars had a significant impact on the development of multilateralism and international organizations. So again, not having an independent statehood... indeed, the Second World War, has not reached a geographical Armenia but Armenians immensely contributed to the victory against Nazism on all fronts, but mainly, of course, in the Soviet Army. 600,000 Armenians went to war, half of them lost their lives. That was at the time about 20% of the population of Armenia, huge number, so Armenians were decorated as heroes. 107 of them were decorated as Hero of the Soviet Union, one of the highest scores within the nationalities of the Soviet Union. We had 60 generals, and four of them were later promoted to Marshals. This is the highest rank in the Soviet military. Of course, we have contributed also to the resistance movements, here for instance in France under the name of Missak Manouchian is very well known.

As in many parts of the globe, Armenia too welcomed to the fall over of the Berlin Wall and it was met with great enthusiasm and hopes in Armenia. At one point already a strong democratic movement was in full swing in Armenia.

This is however not to say that we do not acknowledge the huge contribution of a Soviet Union to the development of Armenia, to development of its art, culture, science, many other aspects. Let me bring only one example. During the Soviet years, the observatory was founded in Armenia, Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory. Byutakan was a well-known world rewarded observatory under the leadership of a prominent astrophysicist Viktor Hambardzumyan. It was really a world-known institution. For a small Armenia it was a huge achievement, and it was due to of course, the Soviet contribution, Soviet influence, which was very vivid in many aspects of our daily life.

Also an important factor, the peace became possible due to this relatively short period of peace, which we're talking about, which Armenia lacked throughout history. It was created after the Second World War. But the general optimism over the fall of Berlin Wall soon faded. You know that Armenia during the Cold War was situated on the frontier of Cold War per se. But the frontier itself has never been open, just remained closed, somehow also symbolizing that even though the Cold War is finished, but the problems have not been settled. Not all of them at least. Now, with all those remaining problems still on the plate, we have started to feel the cold breeze of a new geopolitical rivalry. And again, Armenia is on the front here. Well, even this broad description of our recent history may be enough to explain why Armenia cherishes peace so much, advocates for it and tries to contribute. The wars and conflicts, even World War One, which has nothing to do directly with Armenia had a very tragic impact on my nation. Hence, we try to make our contribution to a world free of wars and dividing alliances. On a national level, for example, recently, the creation of a peaceful atmosphere over region was inscribed in the government program. It was recently adopted by the Parliament, so it's not just on the board, it also has a legal meaning when it comes to Armenia.

 Francesco Pisano

This brings us to more modern times and the entrance of Armenia into the United Nations. And this happened after the re-independence, if I could say that word, in March 92, and you remember stating many regional international organizations. So to talk a little bit about Armenia in the context of the UN, which is very dear to our podcast series, because we wanted to have this podcast basically on multilateralism, the history of multilateralism, the practice of multilateralism. So this is the classical question we put to all ambassadors, what is the assessment that you make today of your country's experience in the UN?

 Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan

In the year 2022, we mark the 40th anniversary of Armenia's accession to the United Nations. To become a full-fledged member of global organization, to have an equal seat among them family of nations, I guess this has unique feelings for any country, any state, any nation, but more so for Armenians. As I mentioned, for 100 years, we were deprived of our independence, statehood, and being a member of the United Nations meant, and continues to mean a lot for us. It is not a coincidence that March 2 is also assigned as the Diplomat's Day in Armenia. This is another token of specialty that we are attaching to this stage. As you know, international organizations are mainly member state driven enterprises. And if you are not represented by an equal seat, there is little that you can do. Again today, I think that we will, from time to time, go to our historical experiences. I am myself historian, and I cannot get rid of this, you know, historical examples and experience that my nation had. But maybe this would also be interesting for the listeners also to, from one nation historical experience, to view multilateralism and role of international organizations from this perspective, as you kindly mentioned in your introductory remarks.

So Armenia knows this well that if you are not equally represented, all kinds of difficulties and troubles may come on your nation. Sometimes our fate was decided without even presence of any Armenian at the table of negotiations. Hence, first of all, what we value in the United Nations is that it provides a recognition of sovereign equality of states. Armenia has come a long way to that. [The United Nations] is also a platform where states can cooperate on a wide array of issues based on sovereign equality. Again, we do not have that many international platforms as Armenia, where we can express ourselves and make our points known, to hear to others, to raise awareness and seek international assistance. In this case, the United Nations is of course unique as a global organization which provides to even such small state as Armenia of this opportunity.

Meanwhile, we also learn, benefit and contribute. Hence, the advantages are vivid, especially for a relatively new independent state. You mentioned, Armenia's independence came just before our accession to the United Nations. And here what we benefit from United Nations is the technical assistance and capacity building, which are very important and we very much appreciate throughout all these years. And today too, as we speak, this capacity building and technical assistance to Armenia continues to add to all walks of life in Armenia, almost all of them.

We are cognizant that not everything is working perfectly in the United Nations and we are aware of claims that some states seems to be more equal here than the others. We of course, know all our types of criticism that the UN usually faces. It is not perfect, but we all need it. And I think even those who criticize it understand that it is indispensable. Over 40 years’ experience in the UN tells us that the success of a United Nations is very much based on our collective action. Multilateralism requires concerted efforts, oriented towards results that can be beneficial for all, not for one or two or a group of states, but to everyone. This is the secret of the success of Multilateralism, if we put it in a general term. We should all try pursue this goal aiming for successful outcomes.

On a national level too, the cooperation within United Nations framework should be directed to this goal. If we speak about Armenia's contribution to this joint endeavor, one of the first things that come to my mind is peacekeeping operations. As we speak now, Armenia is contributing to the peacekeeping operations of the UN in Mali, in Lebanon. But previously and in different frameworks, we have contributed also to such missions as in Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo. It's interesting that once UN's Assistant Secretary General for peacekeeping operations stated in this regard that Armenia support is important not only for his contribution, but also for the Armenian history and the challenges that it has overcome.

We see our current membership to the Human Rights Council as another opportunity to contribute to the global action. The activities of Armenia in HRC are directed by our willingness to contribute to the whole agenda over HRC office, promotion of human rights and protection of human rights. In some cases, it may be based on our national experience but I think that is not a bad thing to do, to share your experience with other nations, and to try to raise awareness on some issues. But we are not using that for our national narrow political purposes. We are doing that for awareness-raising, we are doing that for sharing this experience, and building some responses to some kind of challenges that are very unique for this or that nation. And I think that this is also very much understandable. But overall, our actions of Human Rights Council are based on the values and commitments. As I said, we are trying to push them forward, we are trying to enrich them, and we are trying to contribute whenever we can to their development. Armenia is a penholder of the genocide prevention resolution of HRC. And we think that this is also another token of our contribution to our joint efforts.

We are active in many other issues, which are on the agenda of HRC. But let me only mention one of them. Women's rights are finding very high on our agenda. Armenia chaired the UN Commission on the Status of Women for a period of 2020-2021. These are just a few examples of Armenia's activities within the UN, which we intend to preserve, enhance and deepen.

Francesco Pisano

And thank you for underlining also this link between small states acting in equal terms inside the UN, because something that comes up constantly is this importance to give a voice to everyone, every nation, every member state, and this is really something that are the roots of the dialogue, which is one of the values of multilateralism itself, the value of being able to hold meaningful dialogue, no matter how interests are different or conflicting. But the capacities dialogue is something that stands really at the root of the politics of the United Nations.

One of the things that describe Armenia is the millions of Armenians who live elsewhere. There are impressive communities of Armenians in many countries around the world. And very often these communities make important contributions to science, culture, the arts. A score of names come to my mind when you talk about art, music, science, engineering, and everybody knows that. Everybody knows at least one Armenian researcher or historian or musician that made history. And so I wanted to ask you how that this global presence affects, or maybe it doesn't, Armenians attitude towards multilateralism itself, this sort of seeing things as global things?

 Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan

Okay, let me put a small footnote here for all those who are not aware. My nation is in a very unique situation. We have 3 million Armenians living in Republic of Armenia per se, and another six to seven million abroad, scattered around the world. There were different reasons. For historical reasons we have traditional old Armenian communities, as I mentioned, in Jerusalem and many other parts of the world. We have Armenian communities which were created after the Armenian genocide. And we have Armenian communities created very recently after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Overnight, the parts of a big state, the big empire, which was considered to be one state, became different states. And we found out that we have Armenian communities all over the Soviet Union, which was previously the Soviet Union. So this is a unique experience, of course.

And I would like to thank you very much for your kind words about Armenian nation. It's always very nice to hear such kind of compliments. And indeed, if we start now to enumerate all the Armenians around the world who are famous in art, science, etc, it will take a lot of hours. Let me give only two examples, which maybe are very relevant to our conversation today. The first name of course, that you mentioned is on everybody's mind, is Charles Aznavour who was probably the best known Armenian in this part of the world. He also was at some point also our Ambassador to Switzerland and to the United Nations. Another name which comes to my mind is Mr. Noubar Afeyan. He's the CEO of pharmaceutical company Moderna, and you know, Modern is one of the companies which have created a vaccine against COVID and it's very relevant.

Whenever I talk about this kind of personalities, the words of the first High Commissioner for Refugees Fridtjof Nansen comes to my mind, who said that the migrants who are considered to be a burden today may become an asset for their countries who have sheltered them tomorrow. And these are very exactly precise and to the point examples. And there are many others, certainly with wide Armenian presence around the world. It's also an asset for Armenia. In that sense, it helps a lot our works as diplomat, since very often we do not need to introduce ourselves to the countries where we are serving.

Another aspect is very often ambassadors, my counterparts come to me and they're telling me about their stories, their relationship with the Armenian people in their countries, Armenian Street, Armenian Quarter, and Armenian enterprises and Armenian friends, neighbors may be classmates. These are very common, these stories. In diplomacy, I can testify myself how being in Armenia helps interstate relations with those countries that have significant and always very well integrated and immersed Armenian presence, which has a role in creating a favorable name for Armenians as hard working, diligent, obedient citizens. This happened even before the independence of Armenia and this is a gift indeed for diplomats who usually work to strengthen the people-to-people contacts. But when our first Armenian ambassadors were assigned abroad, we found out that we already have a good name here, and we already have very good people-to-people contact in many countries. When it comes to multilateralism, we have this internal debate in Armenia, among diplomats, among academics, if the circumstances that I have just described, make our nation a global one, one way or another, diaspora makes us global, and exposes us in a positive way to the world. Hence, one can claim but multilateralism is in our DNA.

 Francesco Pisano

And that's a nice way to say it. But before we draw to a conclusion, Ambassador, you are historian, you're passionate about the history of the world, the history of Armenia, and now you're the Permanent Representative of your nation to the UN. From that vantage point of being the Permanent Representative to the UN, what is your view as a person about multilateralism and collective security?

 Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan

When we talk about the established multilateralism about international organizations, this is a creation of the most recent past. Historically, it's not a long perspective, and of course, it continues to largely be the period of formation, adaptation, sometimes also mutation. You know, a famous question, what is the impact of the French Revolution? Well, it is too early to say. I mean, this is very true about multilateralism and the work of international organizations, but to evaluate them to see how they are working, one should also know that history that it passed, of course, but to be more precise, the huge leap that humanity has passed to what we have today in terms of international organizations and established international, you know, structures and international law.

You made a reference to that, that it was largely a product of rapid development and technological advancement over the past centuries, which brought it to the necessity... I mean, it was also a demand-driven process to create organizations for cooperation, for standardization, especially technical ones. The first ones were, as you know, founded also here in Switzerland, and some of them are still with us today. It's ITU, UPU and others. It is interesting to know that one of the first challenges that the League of Nations faced was about the stateless people and refugees after the First World War. And again, coming back to the first High Commissioner for Refugees Fridtjof Nansen and he came up with the idea of giving identity certificates to those people so-called Nansen passports. My own grandparents use those passports, and this was one of the first successful cases of international action that granted refugees both mobility and security and save a lot of lives.

However, one of the main objectives, underlying purpose of multilateralism, of course, was averting wars and creating conditions where countries can cooperate to prevent the larger hostilities. But the first such attempt was the concept of Europe after the Napoleonic War, but this idea of course, occupied the minds of most brilliant thinkers for many centuries. That reminded me of a brilliant philosopher of the Enlightenment era, Immanuel Kant, who believed that the representative governments with a proper separation of power would cooperate with one another and will not wage wars against one another, because simply such kind of governments will rely on their own citizens, not on mercenaries. He very much believed in this demand-driven kind of cooperation. I think many of us may share this optimism. However, at some point countries came to an understanding that we need some structure, some organization where we can permanently sit and discuss the issues. The first time it was not successful, the League of Nations. But that brought to the creation of a second one, the UN, I'm sure you know that a lot of servants, hundreds of servants from League of Nations, they migrated to the United Nations also symbolically show the connection between these two great enterprises. And the United Nations, of course, is here today and it endured another war, the Cold War. It reacted to several drastic crises and aftershocks, but it endured. Naturally such kind of huge endeavor cannot be flawless. Our task is to work to strengthen what we already have, and to try to make it even more functional.

But by doing so, we have also to recognize that the United Nations is not homogeneous. There are different kinds of countries here, which may have different historical and cultural backgrounds, political, economic and social systems. We are at different levels of development. In this context, probably we have to concentrate on what makes us strong and what unites us.

First of all, of course, it's the central role of the United Nations as a global organization for multilateral affairs, overseeing the full adherence to the purpose and principles of the UN Charter. Again, we have been reminded that in the face of global challenges, we are all together, both in reaction and impact. As Secretary General put it, we are holding together in reacting to the challenges brought by COVID-19 pandemic, but this is probably the most recent example. Let me give another one on migrants and refugees. No single country can take the burden upon itself, it should be shared because no any country can alone deal with such kind of magnitude.

The second, it is our commitment to all three pillars of the United Nations, namely peace and security, human rights, and development. In our view, there should not be any kind of hierarchy among them. You know, the tricycle runs effectively if all its wheels are of the same size. If there is an imbalance, that will bring to all kinds of difficulties and will make the whole enterprise ineffective and unstable, and that best decorative, but still symbolic.

Last but not least, we have to learn on our mistakes. And of course, the League of Nations is providing a lot of such lessons to us. One of them on which I would like to concentrate is the credibility. The international organization should keep, should preserve his credibility. Look, when France and the Great Britain went to war against Nazis, we didn't evoke any mechanism. The League of Nations, even though those two countries were staunch supporters of the League of Nations. But why we didn't do that? Because at that time, the League has lost all of its credibility. United Nations, our international organization should keep this credibility, should do everything to keep this credibility. And, of course, all member states have to contribute to that. In this sense, I think that the countries should react to all kinds of challenges to security, no matter how big or small they are, because this is also a matter of perception.

One shot from Sarajevo sparked the whole World War. How much humanity can degrade in the absence of structured mechanism for reacting to as one should, but also to the killing of millions of people later. There were no such mechanisms created. Even during the Second World War, the world leaders were discussing the possibility of creating a stronger League of Nations. That means that even though they didn't use the League of Nations, but we had in mind that we need something like that, a bigger and stronger organization, and this idea didn't go anywhere. So credibility is the key and we have to discuss, we have to talk about any challenges, but we are facing it. You know, to use the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, "Every word has consequences. Every silence, too." Make no mistake, even those instances that may seem to have relatively narrow scope may later stand as a precedent or a trigger for a greater calamity.

In this sense, also, we have to learn from the most recent history of the Second World War. Appeasement of serial abuser is not the best way of containment. We have to call a spade a spade and avoid introducing artificial equilibrium among perpetrators and victims. It does not help. It does not help to seize the hostilities. It does not help to bring the cooperage to justice. Usually what impunity does, it encourages the perpetrators to commit the same crimes, anew. We should avoid the situations where some leaders may openly tell that the international order is not working, international law is just a piece of paper, and that might is right. Such scenarios should be avoided. And if there are such scenarios, we should serve as an early warning signal that something is wrong there. This example that I'm bringing is not theoretical exercise. This is what happened recently in our region.

In these terms, I think that international organizations and various structures should act decisively whenever we see any threat to our common commitments to our values. Let me bring one example on UNESCO but it can be brought to any other organization or UN structure. Whenever there is a real threat to the cultural religious heritage, UNESCO should engage and rapidly act in order to preserve that heritage and prevent the destruction. This is also very much security related issue.

By the way, we should not be the concern of only those who are directly engaged, but we should be concerned for everyone, since it is not about the parties that are directly engaged, but this is the issue about the testing the abilities of a given structure, the resilience of our common commitments, and our resolve for their implementation. As I said, the same is true for our structures or organizations.

 Francesco Pisano

Thank you for that. I can see the historian in you is there, with the examples etc. But it's important to note these views that you have about collective security linked to the credibility of the convener of the international dialogue, which is the United Nations to the end.

Thank you also for the various linkages that you made between the League of Nations and the United Nation, I think our listeners are always trying to learn how these two organizations were connected and not separated, how the League of Nations was partly successful and partly unsuccessful, but not totally one or the other. And I think you brought up very concrete examples, with dates, that go to demonstrate that.

Ambassador, as we wrap up our episode today, and to conclude, do you have any particular message that you want to deliver to our listeners before we close?

 Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan

I think I already tried to put my message in my answers, especially to your last question. Maybe I should add a couple of words about current technological development, which is unprecedented. I mean, in no any historical period we have experienced as a humanity, such kind of rapid growth of technology. Neither in any period of history, we have experienced anything like this in terms of globalization and connectivity, and intertwined interests, politics of different countries. So that brings me to the idea that, you know, the whole multilateralism as we discussed today, was born out of technological advancement. Maybe they are now on the verge of another invention in terms of strengthening multilateralism. This is what I really very much hope.

I really very much hope that this will bring to new ideas, new organization. I think it should, because the demand is there, not only just for regulating this rapid technological advancement, which is a very difficult task, but also for trying to put them in service of all humanity. Beat as it may but even now, we can testify that the technologies have enormously helped the multilateralism. If we bring only the example of the COVID-19, 10 years ago, we could not imagine continuing our multilateral cooperation in such kind of circumstances. But now we have all these kinds of gadgets and you know, technological services that allow us to continue our business, maybe not as usual, but still continue to serve to the humanity. And my greatest hope is that technological advancement would bring to another wave of strengthening of our common international cooperation in the spirit of solidarity, and in conformity to the UN Charter.

But thank you very much again, for this great initiative. I consider this building, this library as a sacred place. It's kind of a temple for me, this one in particular. It's a sacred temple, if you wish. And if so, then you are its chief priest. Thank you very much.

 Francesco Pisano

Ambassador Andranik Hovhannisyan, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations in Geneva. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today.

 Natalie Alexander

We hope you enjoyed this conversation with the Ambassador of Armenia. You’ll find links to resources and the transcript for this episode in the show notes. If you liked this conversation, we’d love it if you could take a moment to subscribe, rate and review us over on Apple or Spotify or Podbean, or share the episode along to those you know. And don’t hesitate to send us your ideas for future episodes. Until next time, take care.


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