With 143 Votes in Favour, 5 Against, General Assembly Adopts Resolution Condemning Russian Federation’s Annexation of Four Eastern Ukraine Regions
Continuing its emergency special session, the General Assembly today condemned the Russian Federation’s attempted illegal annexation of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, and demanded it immediately withdraw all its military forces from Ukraine territory.
By the terms of the text, titled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine: defending the principles of the Charter of the United Nations” — adopted by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to 5 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria) with 35 abstentions — the Assembly demanded that the Russian Federation immediately reverse its decisions of 21 February and 29 September related to the status of the four abovementioned regions.
These acts are a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Assembly declared. It called on all States, international organizations and United Nations agencies not to recognize any alteration by the Russian Federation of the status of the four regions of Ukraine.
[The Assembly’s eleventh emergency special session resumed on 11 October after the Security Council on 30 September failed to adopt a resolution intended to condemn the Russian Federation referendums that preceded Moscow’s proclamation of its annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. (See Press Release SC/15046 for details.) The draft Council resolution also would have declared that the referendums taken from 23 to 27 September in parts of those regions are neither valid nor form the basis for any alteration of the status of these regions of Ukraine, including any purported annexation by the Russian Federation.]
In the discussion today, many Member States deplored the Russian Federation’s aggression towards its neighbour and its attempted annexation of Ukrainian land as blatant disregard for the bedrock principles on which the Organization was founded. The Czech Republic’s representative said the Russian Federation’s organizing of “fake voting amidst the war” is yet more proof of the intimidation and violations Ukrainian citizens are facing.
Some speakers were more neutral in their approach, while a handful sided with the Russian Federation. Among them was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, whose delegate said that the people of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia voted to be a part of the Russian Federation. He also added that illegals acts of aggression against former Yugoslavia, as well as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, by the United States and other Western countries, have yet to be addressed by the Security Council.
The representative of Papua New Guinea expressed dismay that the Russian Federation as a permanent member of the Security Council could threaten nuclear war with such ease. Council members do not solely represent their own interests, but peace and security on a global scale. “Take a hard look at your respective actions and ask whether you deserve a seat,” he said.
Several delegations, such as Brazil and India, expressed worries that their concerns and suggestions were not included in the draft text, with Brazil’s representative underscoring that his delegation’s calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities were left out.
India joined several other speakers in expressing deep worry that the people of the global South were feeling pain from a food, fuel and fertilizer shortage, and sky-high price increases, as a result of the war.
Some delegates stressed the need to promote dialogue and diplomacy so that peace can prevail. They expressed concern that not enough was being done to bring parties to peace talks.
The representative of the United States said that the path to peace does not run through placations. The only way to bring peace is to “show what we will not tolerate”, she said.
Canada’s delegate dismissed the Russian Federation’s claims of Russophobia. “We do not seek Russia’s destruction; what we seek is for the Russian Federation to live up to its commitment” and to act as a steward of peace, he said.
The Russian Federation’s representative reiterated that the populations of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia voted that they did not want to return to Ukraine and that more than 100 international observers from Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Latvia and other countries, who observed the referendum, recognized its outcome as legitimate. He called today’s text a politicized and openly provocative document that risks destroying any efforts towards a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, Australia, Chile, Viet Nam, Colombia, Moldova, Federated States of Micronesia, Croatia, Hungary, Spain, Cyprus, Argentina, Portugal, Greece, Liberia, Belgium, Japan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Slovenia, Uruguay, Syria, Montenegro, Ghana, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palau, Timor-Leste, Germany, France, China, Venezuela, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Angola, Algeria, South Africa, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Thailand, Mauritius, Brazil, Cuba and Bolivia, as well as the Permanent Observers for the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta.
A representative of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance also spoke.
The representatives of Rwanda, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo made statements in exercise of the right of reply.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 October, to consider the tenth annual report of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.
JUAN ANTONIO BENARD ESTRADA (Guatemala) said that beyond the systematic abuses committed by the Russian Federation against the people of Ukraine, acts of annexation by the Russian Federation of Ukraine’s territories are null, and violate international law and the Charter of the United Nations. He condemned the Russian Federation’s attacks on residential areas, urging the Security Council to respond to this “growing threat”. Guatemala did not hesitate to express its support for the Ukrainian people. Today’s resolution does not favour a unipolar world, he said. Rather, it is an appeal to defend the United Nations Charter. Guatemala is a State that recognizes the critical importance of dialogue and diplomacy, he said, adding that its Constitution prioritizes respect for human rights.
FERGAL TOMAS MYTHEN (Ireland) condemned the Russian Federation’s attempts to illegally annex the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and its holding of illegal, illegitimate and sham referendums. Such actions are another blatant breach of the United Nations Charter and do not represent the freely expressed will of the people in those regions, he said. Ireland, he continued, remains fully committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Describing the Russian Federation’s veto as a “reprehensible attempt to excuse its own military aggression against Ukraine, a fellow member of our United Nations,” he reiterated the call to abolish the veto. He then called on the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities, unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine and refrain from further threats of the use of force of any kind, including nuclear weapons.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), associating himself with the statement delivered by the European Union, deplored the Russian Federation’s sham referendum, which he said blatantly violates international law. He urged the Russian Federation to put an end to its military aggression and genuinely commit to diplomatic dialogue. “Russia needs to stop immediately this senseless war,” he said, which is hitting the most vulnerable people in Ukraine and beyond. He urged all Member States to stand together to resist the Russian Federation’s aggression and together uphold the United Nations Charter.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania), aligning himself with the European Union, stressed that the Russian Federation’s actions in organizing the illegal referendums in four Ukrainian regions under occupation, and subsequently attempting to annex them, are attempts by the Kremlin to justify its illegal military occupation. Also strongly condemning this morning’s missile attacks against civilian objectives in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, he added that the international community has a legal obligation not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Ukrainian regions concerned. “Let us be clear, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Crimea and Sevastopol are Ukraine,” he said, adding that the draft resolution under consideration defends the United Nations Charter and represents a building block for peace.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), aligning herself with the European Union, said that on Monday, the Russian Federation’s armed forces killed 12 civilians. Attacks against civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes, she said, condemning the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia following the so-called illegal referendums. Her country will never recognize it, just as it never recognized the illegal annexation of Crimea, she said, adding that such actions not only undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty but also dismantle the existing world order. This war must end now and the Russian Federation must end it by immediately withdrawing all military forces from the territory of Ukraine, she said, cautioning delegates: “Today it is Ukraine, tomorrow it could be any one of us.”
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) rejected the use of force by one State against another and said his Government does not recognize the acquisition of territory by force. He rejected the referendums held by the Russian Federation in territories of Ukraine under foreign military occupation, stressing that these referendums lack legal validity and violate international law. He appealed to the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s territories and reiterated Ecuador’s support for endeavours that promote diplomatic solutions.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the statement delivered by the European Union, expressed outrage that despite calls from the majority of States, the Russian Federation is escalating its assault on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Ukraine is an independent, sovereign State. The so-called referendums in areas under the Russian Federation’s occupation cannot be called the “true expression of the will of the people”, he said. Slovakia will continue to provide support to Ukraine in its “just struggle” to pursue sovereignty and territorial integrity. “It is the Russian Federation that started the war, and it is only the Russian Federation that can end it — and it should be done immediately and without delay,” he stressed. Perpetrators of crimes committed in Ukraine should be held to account. He appealed to every delegation to vote in favour of today’s draft resolution. The international community must send a clear signal that such behaviour cannot and should not be tolerated. This is not a vote between Ukraine and the Russian Federation but “between the power of law and the power of force”, he said.
JOONKOOK HWANG (Republic of Korea) said the international community has continuously condemned the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. “Unfortunately, Russia has not answered the calls of the international community,” he added, reiterating his support for the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Republic of Korea cannot accept the Russian Federation’s attempt to divide Ukraine. The core values of the United Nations are at stake today, he warned. The Russian Federation’s illegal actions should not be accepted nor tolerated. He said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was the only country that has expressed support for the Russian Federation’s annexation of Ukraine’s territory. Nations must unite to overcome threats to international peace and security.
MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia), noting that his country is proud to join all Member States that are determined to uphold the Charter, stressed that the sham referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine have no legal effect. Describing them as a dangerous escalation and urging all Member States to support the resolution under consideration, he said his country will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine. Noting that his country responded to the annexation with travel bans and financial sanctions, he called on the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations under the Charter. Paying tribute to the remarkable courage of the Ukrainian people, he called for a peace that is not just an absence of war but one that enables them to live freely.
Ms. OJEDA TAPIA (Chile), recalling that Article 2 of the United Nations Charter states that all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any States, added that the Charter also calls for resolution of disputes by peaceful means. Reaffirming commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, she rejected the illegal referendums held in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. The international community must not remain indifferent to this illegal annexation, she said, also noting the efforts being undertaken by many stakeholders to resolve the matter peacefully.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam) recalled his own country’s history with its decades of war. Since the foundation of the United Nations, Member States had unfortunately witnessed many acts of aggression. Viet Nam aims to promote friendly relations among neighbours. “It is with a heavy heart that we have been following the situation in Ukraine,” he said, reiterating his call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and earliest resumption of dialogue. It is important to ensure the safety and security of civilians, as well as of critical infrastructure. Peace and stability of the entire world is at stake, he said, calling on international partners to provide aid to people in need. Efforts must be laser-focused on de-escalation.
SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia) reiterated her country’s rejection of war and violence under any circumstance, and urged parties to the conflict to seek a negotiated and peaceful solution.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), associating himself with the statement delivered by the European Union, said Russian Federation President Vladimir V. Putin’s regime once again flagrantly violates international law and European security. Changing Ukraine’s borders “absolutely has no validity”. He urged all Member States to reject the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s territory. Organizing “fake voting amidst the war” is yet more proof of the intimidation and violations Ukrainian citizens are facing. He expressed support for the establishment of an international tribunal to hold to account perpetrators and violators of international law in Ukraine.
SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) stressed the crucial role of the right to self-determination, adding that the people of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have the right to decide their international political status at their own discretion. The people of those regions have exercised their right through a referendum held from 23 to 27 September 2022, he said, adding that his country respects their will. They aspire to integration into the Russian Federation, he said, adding that the United Nations Charter and international law must not be applied in a selective and partial manner. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of former Yugoslavia, as well as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, were violated brutally by the United States and other Western countries, he said, adding that such unlawful and illegal acts have never been called into question in the Security Council.
GHEORGHE LEUCĂ (Moldova), aligning himself with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war of aggression has triggered the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War, prompted global food shortages and deepened the European energy crisis. Also pointing to reports of massive human rights violations, he condemned the massive missile attacks conducted recently against civilian infrastructure in Ukrainian cities. Further, airspace-monitoring data shows that free-cruise missiles launched from the Russian Federation’s military ships in the Black Sea have crossed his country’s airspace, he said, condemning this serious risk to the security of Moldova. His country will not recognize the illegal referendums conducted by the Russian Federation, he stressed, expressing support for the draft resolution.
JEEM LIPPWE (Federated States of Micronesia), associating himself with the Pacific Islands Forum, said he did not recognize the so-called referendums held by the Russian Federation in the four occupied regions of Ukraine. The annexation of Ukrainian territory by the Russian Federation violates the principles of international law. For the abovementioned reasons, his delegation would vote in favour of today’s resolution, he said.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), associating himself with the statement delivered by the European Union, expressed concern that tens of thousands of people have died and that the “crimes committed are piling up”. The annexation of the temporarily occupied territories in Ukraine is null and void, he said, urging Member States to reject and condemn the action. “By doing so, we are not only protecting Ukraine, but the UN Charter,” he said. The Russian Federation continues to violate and blatantly ignore international law. He asked: What kind of “greed” is inciting the leadership of the largest country in the world to annex the land of its neighbour? A “yes” vote for today’s resolution is a just vote for Ukraine.
ZSUZSANNA HORVÁTH (Hungary), associating herself with the statement delivered by the European Union, rejected and condemned the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s territories. “We will never recognize the illegal referenda,” she said. Ukraine has the right to liberate occupied territories. The United Nations Charter is not optional. If one Member State decides to disregard international law, others may follow. Violations by the Russian Federation are unacceptable and must be called out. Any use or threat of use of weapons of mass destruction is contrary to various international instruments and agreements. “A nuclear war cannot be won and therefore must never be fought,” she said. Too many Member States are finding themselves faced with myriad crises: cost of living, energy, food and climate change. Uncertainty and political upheaval are growing. The war constitutes a great security risk. The ensuing rise in the cost of food and fuel is a real and concerning challenge. “Our continent is facing its most severe energy crisis,” she said, calling for dialogue and diplomacy. “We have to use whatever tool available for peace,” she added.
AGUSTÍN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned the sham referendums held in parts of Ukrainian territory temporarily under the Russian Federation’s military control. The Russian Federation persists in its flagrant violations of international law, he said, adding that the international community will never recognize these illegal annexation attempts. Reaffirming respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he appealed for an immediate ceasefire and expressed support for the efforts of Member States and the Secretary-General towards de-escalation. Noting that the Russian Federation’s veto paralysed the Council at a time when that country is threatening to use nuclear weapons, he said such actions undermine global peace.
ANDREAS HADJICHRYSANTHOU (Cyprus), associating himself with the European Union, condemned the illegal referendums held in the occupied regions of Ukraine and the subsequent attempts at annexing them. International law is clear that boundaries cannot be altered by use of force, he said, adding that a referendum cannot take place unilaterally without the consent of the Government of the territory, and that it is not an exercise of the right to self-determination. States have a legal duty to withhold recognition of such acts, he said, noting that his own country has been divided for 50 years due to the crime of aggression. Stressing the role of multilateralism in maintaining international peace and security, he said that diplomacy and not war is the solution.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) said her country is against the acquisition of territories by force. The Russian Federation must immediately cease its military aggression in Ukraine. The attempted referendums and subsequent annexation are null and void and have no standing in international law. She underscored the need to reach a solution so that a political dialogue can take place. The recent pandemic, climate change and the displacement of millions of people around the world have demonstrated that the international community has enough urgent problems to confront, she said, pointing out that war is something that the United Nations had committed to relegate to the past.
ANA PAULA BAPTISTA GRADE ZACARIAS (Portugal), associating herself with the European Union, said the Russian Federation’s attempt to annex Ukraine’s territories is null and void. Ukraine has a right to self-defence in the face of ongoing aggression. “No security concern can ever be a legitimate reason to invade a neighbouring country,” she said. The global impact of the conflict is of real concern. The Russian Federation must stop this war and withdraw from Ukraine, she said, stressing that it is critical to uphold a rules-based international order.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union, said the United Nations Charter is clear. Respect for the territorial integrity of all countries is the cornerstone of international law. This is the foundation of international order. Violations of international law, no matter whom they target, are “a threat to us all”, she said. Greece will spare no effort to protect the Greek community in Ukraine, she said, adding that justice must be carried out and crimes against humanity held to account. Greece will vote in favour of today’s draft text.
CECILIA FORGBE MC GILL (Liberia), noting that this is an unprecedented moment in international history, condemned the Russian Federation’s sham referendums and annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as a flagrant violation of the Charter and international law. Article 2 of the Charter prohibits the use or threat of use of force, she noted, condemning the violence and intimidation taking place in Ukraine. That country deserves the support of the international community in all its efforts to maintain its sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, she said, stressing that Member States must make all efforts to prevail upon the invading nation to cease all its hostilities.
FILIP DE MAESSCHALCK (Belgium), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country “understands the value of multilateralism” and is aware of the shared heritage among all Member States. The consequences of the Russian Federation’s illegal violent actions are unfortunately being experienced by all members of the Organization, he said, noting its impact on sustainable development, food security and global energy supply. Pointing to the increasing number of human rights violations, he said that on Monday, towns and densely populated areas where civilians were living were bombed indiscriminately. “’The protection of civilians’ are mere words for the aggressor,” he said.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) condemned the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, including recent missile attacks against cities across the country, which led to the deaths of innocent civilians. The attempted illegal annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions clearly breaches the Charter and international law, he said, adding that the General Assembly must not accept such outrageous actions. Further, such unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force shake the very foundation of the international order, he said, adding that while the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace, it failed to act because of the veto cast by the Russian Federation.
DAVID BAKRADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union delegation, said the Russian Federation has continued to disregard calls from resolutions adopted in the General Assembly. He reiterated Georgia’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As a state that in 2008 witnessed the Russian Federation’s aggression first-hand, he said Georgia wanted to share a vital message: “Time matters, words matter.” They matter for future generations and for the United Nations in tackling global challenges. It is the collective responsibility of the international community to defend the principles of the United Nations Charter, he underscored.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said he did not recognize the results of the so-called referendums held in Ukraine’s territories. His country reiterated that strict compliance with the norms and principles of international law is critical to the maintenance of international peace and stability.
JUSTIN PETER FEPULEAI (New Zealand), stressing that the sham referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are illegitimate and have no legal basis, said they are a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Annexing the territory of another State through force qualifies as an act of aggression, he added. The international community has an obligation to speak up when there is a violation of international law, he said, adding that the Secretary-General has been very clear that the Russian Federation’s actions have no basis in any international legal framework. The Russian Federation must comply with the legally binding orders of the International Court of Justice to immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine, he said.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), aligning himself with the European Union, denounced the Russian Federation’s threats to use nuclear weapons. Civilians, the vast majority of whom are women and children, are often the main victims in armed conflicts, he noted, underscoring that the shelling of residential buildings as well as other civilian infrastructure represents a severe violation of international law. Calling on the Russian Federation to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access and assistance to all persons in need, he expressed support for all efforts to de-escalate the current situation through political dialogue and negotiation. Slovenia is committed to the promotion of a culture of peace and dialogue, he said, expressing support for the current draft resolution.
CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay) said his country did not recognize the annexation by the Russian Federation of Ukrainian territories. “These referenda are in clear violation of international law,” he added. Uruguay reiterates its support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and calls on the Russian Federation to cease its aggression. He also underscored the importance of diplomacy in helping resolve the conflict.
FRED SARUFA (Papua New Guinea) said his delegation continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. “For us, this is the right thing to do,” he said. How many more General Assembly and Security Council meetings must be convened to end the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation, he asked. This cannot and must not be allowed to continue. The destructive socioeconomic impacts of the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine are many. He further condemned the annexation of Ukraine’s territories, expressing dismay that a permanent member of the Security Council could threaten nuclear war with such ease. He applauded the seven Council members who “stood up” for peace and security, but expressed disappointment that some members of the Council “have yet again failed us”. Council members do not only represent their own interests, but peace and security on a global scale. “Take a hard look at your respective actions and ask whether you deserve a seat,” he said.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said the rostrum of the General Assembly is being manipulated by Western countries for their own interests, as demonstrated by the request for this resumed special emergency session. Describing the draft resolution as hostile towards the Russian Federation, he said Member States have not had the opportunity to introduce amendments to the text. That constitutes clear proof that these countries want to take a hostile stance against the Russian Federation, he said. Such a provocative approach shows that they are trying to fuel the conflict and to push neo-Nazism in Ukraine to one side, rather than resolving issues through dialogue and negotiation. He condemned Western States for ”whipping things up against the Russian Federation through fake information, false news and falsified images”.
DRAGANA ŠĆEPANOVIĆ (Montenegro), aligning herself with the European Union, said that international peace and security have been endangered to an extent never seen in the post-Second World War period, by the Russian Federation’s unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. “The fact that a permanent member of the Security Council and a nuclear State exercised brutal force breaching the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighbouring country should make everyone’s blood run cold,” she said. Rejecting the Russian Federation’s attempted illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, she said the terror and violence that the people of Ukraine are exposed to must stop immediately. “Russia will not stop in Ukraine,” she said, adding that her country is again experiencing “Russian spying and other destabilizing malign activities”.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said that commitment to the United Nations Charter is not a passive duty, but the war against Ukraine has challenged its most basic principles. The international community has a responsibility to help the parties come to peace talks. All Member States have rights, no matter how small they are, he said, underscoring Ukraine’s right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. He stressed that the Russian Federation’s annexation of Ukrainian territories is “null and void”. The Russian Federation’s attempt to use historical wrongdoing to justify current action is unacceptable. The war in Ukraine must end now, he said, emphasizing the need to prioritize the safety of civilians. The Russian Federation must withdraw its forces from the internationally recognized border of Ukraine.
SOVANN KE (Cambodia), in explaining his co-sponsorship and “yes” vote for the resolution, urged all Member States to respect and adhere to the principles and values of the United Nations. Annexation of regions from a sovereign country is a flagrant violation of the Charter, he said. He called for all parties to resolve the conflict peacefully, urging them to ensure the safe passage of civilians and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance in and around Ukraine.
GEORGES NZONGOLA-NTALAJA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that while his delegation voted in favour of the resolution, it deplores “the politics of double standards of the powerful of this world when it comes to Africa”. Much has been spent on Ukraine during the last eight months, but very little attention is paid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where more than 7 million people have died and thousands more suffer in internally displaced persons camps. He recalled that Rwanda and Uganda invaded his country in 1998, and that Rwanda continues to plunder its natural resources, occupying several places in North-Kivu province. Yet no strong action has been taken by the international community. Neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly have adopted resolutions to impose sanctions on Rwanda, he said.
ILANA VICTORYA SEID (Palau), associating herself with the Asia Pacific Forum, condemned the Russian Federation’s aggression, “sham referenda” and attempt to annex Ukrainian territories. Adding that the war has had widespread consequences, she said children and families are going hungry from food inflation. Moreover, in countries like Palau, people are dealing with soaring temperatures, unable to cool their homes as energy prices shoot through the roof. In other countries, families will suffer a frigid winter, she said, stressing that those who are most vulnerable will get hit the hardest. Addressing Member States who have remained neutral on the Russian Federation’s aggression, she urged them to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter and the notion that nations simply cannot and should not redraw borders.
KARLITO NUNES (Timor-Leste), highlighting the international community’s moral obligation to defend sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity, said that upholding the international rule-based order is not an option; it is a must. Expressing concern about the eight months of killing and destruction, he quoted the French Philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, who said, “When the rich make war, it’s the poor that die.” Peace is possible, he stressed, adding that the Russian Federation and Ukraine are “brothers and neighbours.” Calling upon all countries to help the two States build peace and live harmoniously side by side, he quoted his country’s President, who said in his address to the General Assembly that the Russian Federation, Ukraine and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries must swallow their pride, review past policies that led to this mutual suicide and back away from each other’s borders.
MICHAEL ALEXANDER GEISLER (Germany), recalling that the United Nations was created to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, said that a permanent member of the Security Council has now brought it back. The Russian Federation’s playbook is simple, he said, adding that the country has seized land and then organized a referendum to secure its land grab. Further, it does not shy away from nuclear threats against a country that has voluntarily given up its nuclear arsenal, he pointed out. Asking the Russian Federation’s Government if it still subscribes to the January 3 2022 declaration by the leaders of all five nuclear-weapon States reaffirming that a nuclear war must never be fought, he stressed: “Today it is Ukraine; tomorrow it could be any of us.” The sham referendum and the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation are null and void, he stressed.
ANNIKA SILVA-LEANDER, a representative of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, called the Russian Federation’s referenda a violation of international law. The referenda were also conducted in gross violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Her Institute called on the international community to condemn these actions as illegal. She deplored the Russian Federation’s “use and abuse” of the veto power in the Security Council, which calls for a profound reform of the body in ensuring it can truly uphold peace and security. Those in the Assembly who would support Ukraine’s reconstruction process should do so with democracy at the forefront of all action. She welcomed the adoption and enforcement of sanctions on the Russian Federation.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) said the reality and truth are clear. The Russian Federation’s war goes against the principles that lie at the heart of the United Nations Charter. Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin would have the world believe that there is some kind of conspiracy against his country. But the West did not create the Charter. “The Soviet Union signed the Charter; China signed the Charter,” he said. There is no grand conspiracy against the Russian Federation. “The international community is not anti-Russia,” he said. Rather it is anti-launching an illegal and disastrous invasion of Ukraine. “Apparently, imperial habits die a very hard death,” he continued. There is no Russophobia. The Russian Federation’s own soldiers, tanks and military are abusing Russian-speaking areas. It is the Russian Federation that has twice violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity since 2014. The Russian Federation claims it is a friend of the Charter. “We do not seek Russia’s destruction; what we seek is for the Russian Federation to live up to its commitment under the United Nations Charter” and to act as a steward of peace, he said. The responsibility of the Security Council permanent members is to preserve international peace and security. Think of how much better the world could be if Member States were debating in this chamber “how we can rebuild and how we can remake economies that have been impacted by the cascade of devastation” of the last several years, he said.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that the current debate is about defending the Charter, the cement that binds the Organization. By attacking Ukraine, the Russian Federation has not only unleashed a war with global repercussions, but also violated the most basic principles of international law. What is happening today in Europe could happen in Asia or Africa or Latin America tomorrow, he cautioned, adding that his country will never resign itself to a world in which force overrides law. Stressing that France would never recognize the fake referenda, he added that it worked with partners in a transparent and inclusive process to draft a text that everyone should be able to support.
GENG SHUANG (China), noting that, after eight months of the crisis, a peaceful settlement is not in sight, added that this has led to increased uncertainty in an already turbulent world. At the recently concluded high-level general debate of the Assembly, leaders from around the world called on the parties to cease fighting, he said, stressing the role of dialogue. Also underscoring the importance of increasing humanitarian relief and minimizing the spillover effects of the conflict, he said that abandoning the cold war mentality is crucial. Emphasizing that any action taken by the Assembly should be conducive to a political solution, he added that the draft resolution under consideration will not help achieve that. His delegation would therefore abstain from the vote, he said, adding that the Assembly’s work should be conducted in full accordance with rules of procedure.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said the draft resolution is not only important to the future of Ukraine and Europe, but the very foundation of the United Nations. The facts are clear: a Member State, one with a permanent seat on the Security Council, has attempted to annex territory from its neighbour. One country cannot take the territory of another by force. Eight years ago, the General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution affirming Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Believe me, there is nothing we would like to see more than peace,” she said, adding: “We would also like to stop seeing Russia commit war crimes.” The path to peace does not run through placations and does not involve turning the other way in the face of flagrant violations, she said. The only way to bring peace is for the international community to show what it will not tolerate. “These United Nations will not tolerate seizing a neighbour’s land by force and the destruction of the United Nations Charter,” she said. Today’s resolution makes clear that the Organization rejects the Russian Federation’s affront to territorial integrity and sovereignty. The United States will vote in favour on the resolution and urges every country to do the same. “Let us condemn Russia for its attempt at illegal annexation,” she said.
GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, reiterated pleas to end the conflict which destroys by the hour the mutual trust on which the international order depends. He underscored Pope Francis’ pleas for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Having directly addressed both the leaders of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, Pope Francis believes all countries must do everything they can to promote and support initiatives for dialogue. They must also refrain from escalation hostilities. With the lingering threat of nuclear escalation, the need for dialogue is even more urgent, he stressed.
PAUL BERESFORD-HILL, Permanent Observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta, said that no nation can allow this conflict to spiral out of control because, no matter how far away, “the detritus of burning rage” will consume the entire world. The Order is a sovereign entity that seeks to embrace as its citizens those who are left behind, “the forgotten people of our world, often stateless, homeless, the trafficked, the migrant and refugee”, he said. Appealing for a cessation of hostilities on behalf of innocent civilians suffering through no fault of their own, he pointed to the many human consequences of the crisis: a father crying over a wife killed during a missile attack; an elderly woman crippled and confined to bed, while gunfire rages outside her flat; a mother laying to rest her only son, a soldier killed in battle; a child bereft of its parents, clutching a broken doll. When the innocent see no way out of their pain, then the international community fails the United Nations Charter, he said, adding “we are better than that”.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the tallies of the referenda held in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kerson and Zaporizhzhia show that the vast majority of those who voted supported the idea of these regions becoming a part of his country. Despite the difficult security situation due to “the provocations of the Kyiv regime”, the populations of these regions voted that they do not want to return to Ukraine. More than 100 international observers from Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Latvia and other countries who observed the referenda recognized its outcome as legitimate, he said. The draft resolution under consideration, he added, is a politicized and openly provocative document that not only ignores all of these facts, but also could destroy any efforts towards a diplomatic solution to the crisis. By introducing this draft, he continued, Western States are pursuing their own geopolitical goals and are again “trying to use the members of the General Assembly as bit players”. Their expressions of commitment to the international law are vivid examples of hypocrisy, he said.
Also explaining his vote before the vote, the representative of Venezuela said there were no consultations on today’s draft text, which shows the lack of interest in forging consensus on the resolution. This method of work will not bring Member States closer to achieving peace. “We now find ourselves at a moment of greater confrontation,” he said. Today, the role must be to correct course and prevent a chain reaction that could lead to the abyss. “We are getting closer and closer to the point of no return,” he added. This is not the time to instrumentalize the General Assembly, he warned, urging Member States to do their part in reducing tensions. Nuclear war does not have winners and losers. It ensures mutual destruction and suffering for all the people of the world. Today’s draft will not contribute to furthering international peace and security, he said, also warning against continuing a war that could generate consequences which could hurt generations to come.
The representative of Nepal said the conflict in Ukraine is deeply concerning. The United Nations Charter clearly stipulates that all Member States must settle disputes through peaceful means while upholding the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Nepal will vote in favour of the draft resolution today, he said.
The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said her delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution, expressing concern about the recent referenda and subsequent annexation. The manner in which the referenda were conducted was not in accordance with international norms, she said, adding that it is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. She called for mature diplomacy, adding that the world cannot afford another catastrophic conflict.
The Assembly then decided that, in accordance with Article 18 of the Charter, a two-thirds majority of members present and voting is required for the adoption of draft resolution A/ES/11/L.5.
The Assembly then adopted the text by a recorded vote of 143 in favour to 5 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 35 abstentions.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, and on behalf of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said he voted in favour of the draft resolution because the group is committed to upholding the principles in the Charter of the United Nations. All countries must abstain from the use of force, he added. The Gulf Cooperation Council hopes that work will continue until a satisfactory solution is reached before any further political and economic repercussions.
The representative of Angola, also explaining her vote after the vote, said her country voted in favour of the resolution in accordance with the well-founded principle of territorial integrity, which is also in line with the Constitutive Act of the African Union. In spotlighting the countless human casualties and consequences for world peace and security, as well as economies, she reiterated her country’s appeal for parties to cease hostilities and strive for the peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and in full respect of international law.
The representative of Algeria, expressing great concern over the deterioration of the situation in Ukraine, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to international law and the United Nations Charter, particularly respect for the sovereignty of States and opposition to the annexation of territories by force. He called on the international community and the United Nations to discharge their responsibilities, fully end double standards and work on ending all forms of occupation and annexation by force of territories on the Organization’s agenda for decades, particularly Palestine, the occupied Syrian Golan and Western Sahara.
The representative of South Africa said that the detrimental effects of the war are being felt around the world. The territorial integrity of States, including Ukraine, is sacrosanct, she said, calling on parties to respect international law. In the context of heightened tensions, all efforts should be geared to a political solution, she said, adding that some elements of the resolution do not address this. Any additional resolutions should focus on concrete proposals to end the war, she stressed.
The representative of Pakistan said that his delegation abstained from the vote. The right to self-determination applies to people under foreign or colonial occupation and those who have not exercised that right, as in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, he said. “We look forward to seeing similar concern and condemnation” regarding India’s annexation of illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that while his delegation agrees that the referendums cannot be conducted on people who are part of a sovereign State, the draft includes provisions that it cannot endorse. Irrespective of the origin of the conflict, the highest priority is the immediate cessation of hostilities through negotiation or mediation, he said.
The representative of Egypt said his delegation voted for the draft resolution. Egypt reiterates its call to the parties in the conflict to put an end to hostilities and contain the negative impact on civilians. “Where would we be if we stopped and listened to each other?” he asked, adding that the world would benefit from more understanding and dialogue. Egypt refuses to accept double standards, which will lead to a system that is unable to resolve disputes between parties. He also underscored the food and fuel crises facing developing countries.
The representative of India expressed deep concern for the conflict in Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. “The global order we all subscribe to” is based on the territorial integrity of all States, she said. India stands ready to support all efforts aimed at de-escalation. It is unfortunate that as the war unfolds, the entire global South continues to suffer food, fuel and fertilizer shortages, as well as price hikes. She said there were other pressing issues at play, some of which had not been addressed in the text. Her delegation abstained from the vote for that reason, she said, adding that India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there. Before concluding she addressed the remarks of the delegate of Pakistan, stressing that Jammu and Kashmir are and will continue to be an integral part of India.
The representative of Bangladesh said his country voted in favour of the resolution, reaffirming its belief that respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful settlement of all disputes must be universally complied to, without any exception. He underscored the need for the international community to take similar stands against the annexation of Palestinian and other Arab lands by Israel. Adding that antagonisms like war, economic sanctions and countersanctions can bring no good to any nation, he encouraged dialogue and mediation to solve crises and disputes, urging parties to refrain from action that may further endanger peace and security.
The representative of Thailand said that his “small, sovereign nation” holds international law and the Charter sacred, but his delegation chose to abstain from the vote because of the volatile and charged atmosphere. Expressing concern that this marginalizes the chance of diplomacy to bring about a negotiated solution to the crisis, he cautioned against the politicization of international principles, and called for constructive engagement.
The representative of Mauritius said his delegation voted in favor of the resolution because it respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, big and small. Expressing concern about the global consequences of the crisis, he noted that selectivity in applying principles can affect the credibility of the United Nations.
The representative of Brazil said international law and the United Nations Charter must be respected and preserved. As much as facilitators of today’s text showed flexibility, Brazil’s calls for a cessation of hostilities and return to dialogue were not included. “We must avoid the crystallization of disputes,” he said. Brazil is deeply concerned with the threat of nuclear weapons, he emphasized, adding that any use of nuclear weapons would be catastrophic for humanity. His delegation abstained from the vote.
The representative of Cuba said that countries of the global South are being forced to live under the rules of Western Powers, adding that double standards and political manipulation damage the cause of peace. It is an act of “supreme hypocrisy” that those most responsible for violating the United Nations Charter now proclaim themselves to be the defenders of it. Cuba supports the peaceful resolution of conflict, he said, expressing concern over the absence of calls to de-escalate the conflict. “It is our responsibility to reduce tensions, not increase them,” he said. “We will not achieve peace by promoting confrontation.” He said Cuba’s delegation abstained from the vote.
The representative of Bolivia, rejecting the use of aggression to resolve conflicts between States, said the international community must work together to make the world a zone of peace. Expressing concern about the escalation of violence in the military conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, he said this has led to instability around the world. Noting the prevalence of double standards, with many speaking about promoting peace while supplying weapons that worsen the crisis, he called for the establishment of a high-level committee, with members acceptable to all parties to the conflict, in order to find a political solution. Bolivia abstained from the vote, he said, stressing that the Assembly must promote a genuine platform for dialogue and peace.
Right of Reply
The representative of Rwanda, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s representative misused the meeting to spread baseless propaganda. Rwanda is fully committed to working with that country within existing frameworks on various matters, including the dignified return of Congolese refugees who have stayed in neighboring countries for too long, he said.
The representative of Pakistan, exercising his right of reply in response to India’s remarks, said that Jammu and Kashmir are not a so-called part of India, nor is it India’s internal matter. “India remains in occupation of an internationally recognized disputed territory,” he said, adding that its final disposition must be decided in accordance with the democratic principle of a free and impartial plebiscite under United Nations auspices. “If India has any respect for international law and moral courage, it will end its reign of terror, withdraw its troops and let the Kashmiris freely decide their future,” he said, noting the country’s “Islamophobia and bigotry against minorities”, particularly Muslims.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo recalled Rwanda’s occupation of his country, the atrocities it committed and its plundering of his country’s economy. The international community has emphasized the crisis in Europe while ignoring the crisis in Africa and placing restrictions on armament, he said. In urging an end to the double standard, he called on the international community to condemn and take action against any invasion or occupation of a country by another.
The representative of Rwanda, taking the floor again, said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo needs to move beyond blaming his country for its problems and look for homegrown solutions. Whenever there are elections in that country, Rwanda is brought up, he said, adding that both countries as neighbours need to address the real problems.