‘We Don’t Have a Moment to Lose’, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly’s Emergency Special Session on Ukraine as Speakers Debate Draft Resolution
Pointing to ‘Half-Truths’ in Text, Belarus’ Representative Introduces Additional Amendments
Resuming an emergency special session on Ukraine almost to the day of the first-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, the General Assembly met today to consider a draft resolution introduced by that country’s delegation that, if approved, would underscore the need to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine as soon as possible in line with the Charter of the United Nations.
“While prospects may look bleak today, we know that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the Charter and international law. The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult this work will be. We don’t have a moment to lose,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed in his opening remarks. Reiterating the United Nations’ unequivocal commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, he stressed that it is high time to step back from the brink. Complacency will only deepen this crisis, he emphasized, adding: “War is not the solution. War is the problem.”
Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), Assembly President, marking the grim and first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, highlighted the despair, displacement, destruction and death that Europe has not seen in decades. When these are the headlines of the day, the world is indeed in a new chapter of history, he declared, underlining the stark choices before the Assembly on rebuilding the trust it has lost. There is no other alternative but to uphold and preserve the Charter of the United Nations, he said.
Dmytro Kuleba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, introducing the text, “Principles of the Charter of the United Nations underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine”, said that the current situation on the frontlines proves that Moscow wants war and not peace. That aggressor has murdered civilians, attacked civilian infrastructure and forcibly transferred thousands of children to its territory, among other things. True peace came in 1945, not because the forces of good stopped fighting, but because evil was defeated, he pointed out, appealing to all to stand for the Charter by showing their support, unity and solidarity to his country.
However, Belarus’ delegate, outlining the goal to take the resolution out of the grey area of “half-truths”, offered corrections to certain inaccuracies through two amendments. If the Russian Federation had not limited itself to a special military operation and had instead conducted a “fully fledged invasion”, no country could survive Moscow’s full military potential, he noted. He further observed that Ukraine’s draft lacks an appeal for peace negotiations. The draft amendments he was presenting have no hidden agenda and only aim to end the conflict using peaceful means, he emphasized.
The representative of the Russian Federation also stressed that ignoring everything that came before 24 February 2022 is the West’s attempt to confuse others and hide the real reasons of this conflict. A year in, very few doubt that the collective West is fighting Moscow and seeking its strategic defeat, with Ukraine as nothing more than a pawn. Although his country is ready for a diplomatic solution, its opponents have not recovered from the futile illusion that they could defeat a nuclear Power. One thing is for certain though: Ukraine’s text will not help at all; Member States should instead support Belarus’ balancing amendments, he said.
As the debate went late into the night, many ministers and senior government officials voiced their support for Ukraine’s draft as they reaffirmed their commitment to that country; reiterated their demand on the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces; and underscored the need to ensure accountability.
The representative of the United States, recalling the emergency Security Council meeting held one year ago, pointed out President Vladimir Putin chose war in an assault on the United Nations that struck at the heart of its Charter. Against this backdrop, the vote on Ukraine’s text is a moment to remember why Member States are here, she said, as she spoke of the resolve, deep sorrow, unimaginable pain and hope she saw etched in the faces of Ukraine’s people during her visit to the embattled country.
The representative of Fiji, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, elaborated on the war’s impacts which have travelled farther than bullets can fly. Despite the Forum’s remoteness, the disruption of global food and energy systems have made these essentials unaffordable and have increased the suffering experienced by its peoples and economies. The international community cannot afford to remain lost in an endless sea of conflict where “might is right” and unilateral force tramples shared values, he stressed.
Liberia’s delegate added that adherence to the United Nations Charter is a viable and efficient recipe for addressing issues of global peace and security. Since inaction only threatens the Organization’s fabric, it is time for Member States to demonstrate this commitment. “The world cannot and should not sit back idly to what is unfolding in Ukraine,” she stated.
However, Venezuela’s representative, also speaking for a group of like-minded countries, stressed that States must not allow the Assembly to be instrumentalized to advance initiatives such as Ukraine’s draft that lack consensus. He called for an end to confrontation, deepening divisions and the imposition of dubious agendas since peace can only be achieved when States see each other as equals. A unipolar victory is nothing more than a pipedream, he added in his national capacity, underlining that only dialogue, diplomacy and restraint can facilitate a peaceful settlement.
Syria’s delegate, also voicing support for Belarus’ amendments, pointed out that Western countries only pay lip service to upholding the Charter’s principles. Time and time again, they have violated that same Charter, be it through acts of aggression against other countries or a blind eye to Israel’s acts against the Palestinian people and the Syrian people in the occupied Syrian Golan, to name a few.
Countering that, Sri Lanka’s delegate emphasized: “You don’t make peace with friends; you make it with unsavoury enemies if it has to be.” Even if a peace agreement fails to be reached, talks reduce civilian casualties and can create a foundation for an eventual agreement, he pointed out.
Echoing that, the representative of the Republic of Korea also stressed that this is not about taking sides but rather the joint commitment to the Charter. “How many more days must we bear witness to civilian casualties and the destruction of the beloved homes of ordinary people?”, he wondered before voicing his support for Ukraine’s draft. Time is not on the side of mass atrocities but rather freedom, justice, human rights, the rule of law and the Charter, he answered.
At the top of the meeting, the General Assembly took note of the 14 February letter addressed to its President from the Secretary-General (document A/ES-11/15) informing it of the five Member States — Comoros, Lebanon, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Venezuela — in arrears in the payment of their financial contributions to the United Nations within the terms of Article 19 of the Charter.
Mr. Kőrösi (Hungary) then reminded the Assembly of its decision during the 12th plenary meeting of the eleventh emergency special session to follow the provisions of resolution 77/2 of 7 October 2022 by which the Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia were permitted to vote in the Assembly until the end of its seventy-seventh session and at the eleventh emergency special session.
Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives from Italy, Canada, Spain, Guatemala, Slovenia, Estonia, Georgia, Malta, Austria, Republic of Moldova, Portugal, Iceland, Costa Rica, Oman (on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council), Sweden, Singapore, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Türkiye, Chile, Ecuador, Marshall Islands, Israel, Mexico, Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Viet Nam, Peru, Tonga, Montenegro, Tunisia, Argentina, Palau, Azerbaijan and Greece and from the European Union, Holy See and Sovereign Order of Malta in their capacity as observers.
The General Assembly will reconvene on Thursday, 23 February, at 10 a.m. to continue its emergency special session.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, noted that today marks the grim and first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, highlighting the despair, displacement, destruction and death that Europe has not seen in decades. The staggering scale of loss defies the human ability to absorb with thousands of civilians and soldiers dead and countless more injured. As well, 8 million refugees are spread across Europe and beyond, and 6 million are internally displaced, with two thirds of them being women and children. The systematic targeting of civilian infrastructure — a direct violation of international humanitarian law — has left millions of Ukrainians without energy, water and heat in the depths of winter. When these are the headlines of the day, the world is indeed in a new chapter of history, he said, underscoring the stark choices before the Assembly on rebuilding the trust it has lost among itself and the peoples of the world. “These choices will either set us on a path of solidarity and collective resolve to uphold the tenets of the UN Charter or a path of aggression, war, normalized violations of international law and collapsed global action,” he stressed.
Aggression, invading a neighbour and annexing another country’s territory are all illegal, he continued. These events have notably affected every Member State over the past year by sparking an energy crisis, causing pernicious inflation and unleashing a global food security crisis on those least able to survive. In light of this, he called on all parties to support the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in March and expedite inspections. The continued and timely implementation of this Initiative is not only critical to saving lives and stabilizing global prices, but also offers a strong example of crisis management in action. Yet, the unthinkable threat of nuclear warfare still looms large as do the dangers of a nuclear accident. There are no winners in such a war and it must never be unleashed, he declared, emphasizing the urgent need for renewed commitments to global disarmament and the non-proliferation regime.
“No one can be complacent,” he stressed, as he assured all those suffering from the war’s consequences that they have not been forgotten. Across the system, the Organization has worked tirelessly to find solutions to their plight and accompany them on the road to reconstruction. “This war will come to an end and the time of reconstruction, reconciliation and transformation will come,” he promised, adding: “We know it will not be easy. We know the scars are deep. Culture, family bonds, sports, arts and the acknowledgement of the shared destiny of humanity will certainly help nations currently facing each other in the trenches.”
Addressing the Russian Federation’s leaders and people directly, he underscored that their country has been and remains the most important member of the community of nations. Other Member States are waiting for Moscow to return to the path of establishing and preserving peace, to contribute to stability and prosperity. As far too many lives, livelihoods, families and local communities have already been lost, Moscow can end the war it began and must put an end to this hellish bloodshed. He then called on all parties and the international community to recommit to the values, principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. There is no other alternative but to uphold and preserve the world’s constitution. “We the Peoples” must be the common interest of all, he declared.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the one-year mark of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine stands as a grim milestone for the people of Ukraine and for the international community. The invasion is a violation of the United Nations Charter and international law and is having dramatic humanitarian and human rights consequences. The Charter is unambiguous, he said, quoting: “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” In addressing, in the clearest terms, the attempt by the Russian Federation to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine — Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk — the Assembly reaffirmed the longstanding principles of international law contained in its landmark Friendly Relations Declaration of 1970, he said.
“The position of the United Nations is unequivocal: We are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders,” he declared. The United Nations has stayed on the ground working with humanitarian partners, he added, highlighting that fully 40 per cent of Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance. More so, vital infrastructure has been targeted — water, energy and heating systems have been destroyed in the dead of winter.
United Nations agencies have also been cooperating with host countries that received more than 8 million Ukrainians — the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, he noted. Last year, the United Nations launched a $5.6 billion humanitarian appeal for the people of Ukraine, he said, calling for Member States’ full support. Recalling his two visits to Ukraine since the start of the war and the testimonies of severe violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, he stressed that, in this conflict as elsewhere, the United Nations is committed to ensuring justice and accountability. He also recalled that in Mariupol the United Nations helped evacuate civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative has shown the possibility of Ukraine and the Russia Federation to advance global food security — with the support of the Government of Türkiye and the United Nations, he continued. "We are working hard to remove all the remaining obstacles to the implementation of the memorandum of understanding between the Secretariat of the United Nations and the Russian Federation to facilitate exports of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets,” he said, underscoring the United Nations’ continued support of those initiatives for the benefit of millions of people across the world, especially in the Global South. Notwithstanding deep mistrust, the parties to the conflict have also worked out regular exchanges of prisoners of war, facilitated by regional actors. These efforts can and must continue, and expand as much as possible, he added.
"The possible consequences of a spiralling conflict are a clear and present danger,” he warned, noting the grave threat when irresponsible military activity continues around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — the largest nuclear facility in Europe. He commended the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for engaging the sides to ensure that the area remains safe, stressing that the security and safety of all Ukrainian nuclear power plants must be guaranteed. The war is also fanning regional instability and fuelling global tensions and divisions, while diverting attention and resources from other crises and pressing global issues. Noting implicit threats to use nuclear weapons, he said their so-called tactical use is utterly unacceptable.
“It is high time to step back from the brink,” he stressed, noting that complacency will only deepen the crisis. “War is not the solution. War is the problem,” he added, pointing to the enormous suffering of the people in Ukraine. Ukrainians, Russians and people far beyond need peace. “While prospects may look bleak today, we know that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the Charter and international law. The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult this work will be. We don’t have a moment to lose,” he emphasized.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
DMYTRO KULEBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, introduced draft resolution A/ES-11/L.7, entitled "Principles of the Charter of the United Nations that underline the comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine", noting he had stood in the same place one year ago as a massive Russian Federation force hung over his country, preparing to wipe it off the face of the world map. Ukraine exercised its legitimate right to self-defence, enshrined in the Charter as its people chose to fight for their lives. “Against all odds, we were able to stop the much stronger aggressor and kick him out of half of the newly occupied territory,” he affirmed, adding that “no one should be fooled by Russia’s empty calls for negotiations”.
The current situation on the frontlines proves they want war, not peace, he went on to say, describing atrocities committed by the aggressor in the occupied territories, including murder of unarmed civilians, torture and rape, looting, terror, political persecution, indiscriminate shelling, as well as deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure. He further noted forcible transfers and deportations of thousands of Ukrainian children and their consequent adoption in Russian families in order to “re-educate” them as Russians. “This is genocide,” he declared. “I know that some still think or even say: ‘We want to be friends with both, Ukraine and Russia’,” he noted. However, in this war, there are no two sides: there is an aggressor and a victim. He therefore called on the Member States to take the side of the Charter, international law and Assembly resolutions.
True peace came in 1945, not because the forces of good stopped fighting, but because evil was defeated, he pointed out. Three months ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy outlined the 10-Point Peace Formula, including nuclear, food and energy security; release of prisoners and deported persons; implementation of the Charter and restoration of territorial sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. The Formula further calls for withdrawal of Russian Federation troops and cessation of hostilities; restoration of justice, including with the creation of a special tribunal; prevention of ecocide; prevention of escalation of war; and confirmation of the end of the war.
Each step can be implemented if there is a strong will for peace and a refusal to hide behind the mask of neutrality, he said, underscoring that never in recent history has the line between good and evil been so clear, with one country merely wanting to live while the other wants to kill and destroy. “Our troops do not stand on anyone else’s land,” he pointed out. Calls to cease delivery of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine are badly misplaced, as it is perfectly legitimate to help a nation that has been attacked and is defending itself. It is further illegal and against the Charter to give military help to the aggressor.
The world will drown in chaos if borders can be changed by force, he said. With the support of the world, Ukraine can restore its territorial integrity, discouraging the Russian Federation and other aggressors from wanting to attack other nations. He therefore called on Member States to support the draft resolution entitled “Principles underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine”, to contribute to joint efforts to bring the war to an end. A year after his previous appearance, against all odds, Ukraine is effectively defending itself against a much stronger enemy. “I appeal to you: this is a decisive moment to show support, unity, and solidarity. This is the moment to prove that you stand for the Charter,” he stressed.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) presented amendments to the draft resolution with the purpose of rectifying certain inaccuracies. Outlining the goal to take the resolution out of the grey area of "half-truths", he said that preambular paragraph 5 describes the actions of the Russian Federation as "a full-scale invasion of Ukraine", which is not in line with reality. If the Russian Federation had not limited itself to conducting special military operation and conducted a “fully fledged invasion” using its full military potential, he said, there would be “no country able to exist after a couple of hours or minutes after that”. Noting that President Alexander Lukashenka has repeatedly said that the only way of ending the conflict is to start negotiations, he recalled that former Heads of State and Government of the Normandy Four have publicly acknowledged the lack of interest in peace at the time of working on the Minsk II agreement package.
Spotlighting the objective of the second amendment to include elements for a peaceful settlement, he pointed out that it is either a tragic oversight or an intentional step that the draft resolution does not contain an appeal to peace negotiations. Due to the efforts of President Lukashenka in February and March 2022 several rounds of negotiations had been organized between Kyiv and Moscow, he said, noting that breaking the talks and pumping Ukraine with weapons resulted in protracting the confrontation. He also expressed concern about statements of some politicians to provide Ukraine with lethal weaponry, including weapons of mass destruction. Underscoring that the amendments have no hidden agenda and aim to end the conflict using peaceful means, he pointed out that voting would be considered as a test of being truly interested in attaining lasting peace in Ukraine.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) recalled that, a little more than a year ago, Ukraine and its Western sponsors convened the Eleventh Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly. At the time, many Member States were disoriented and yielded to the collective West — which claimed that nothing more terrible had ever happened in the history of mankind. Since then, many Member States now better understand the reasons for what happened and is happening now, and it is consequently more difficult for the West to mobilize Member States to support its crusade against Moscow. The primary element of the anti-Russian Federation propaganda campaign conducted by the country’s former Western partners consists of accusing Moscow of holding imperial ambitions to destroy Ukraine. He stressed that believing this absurdity is only possible if one forgets about the eight years that preceded the Russian Federation’s special military operation, noting that this is how long the Kyiv regime has waged bloody war against the people of the Donbas.
Starting history on 24 February 2022 and ignoring everything that came before, is an attempt by the West to confuse others and hide the real reasons for this conflict, he continued. However, understanding what occurred prior to that date is key to understanding the prospects for peaceful settlement, he said, noting that the West used the cover of the Minsk agreements — approved by the Security Council — to prepare Ukraine for war against the Russian Federation. In so doing, it formed and armed an authoritarian, despotic regime that sought to destroy all opposition or anything connected to the Russian Federation. Stating that his country began its special military operation to stop the eight-year-long war waged by Kyiv against the people of Donetsk and Luhansk, he stressed that statements accusing the Russian Federation of destroying global or regional security are hypocritical. At the end of 2021, Moscow advanced several initiatives relating to de-escalation and security guarantees, but such measures were spurned by the United States and its allies. It is apparent now why this was the case — at the time, the West wanted to turn Ukraine into a “full-fledged military platform” on the Russian Federation’s border.
Questioning the possibility of trusting the West when it says it wants peace, he said that, a year into the conflict, very few doubt that the collective West — not Ukraine — is fighting the Russian Federation, seeking its strategic defeat. Ukraine is nothing more than a pawn, and while Moscow is ready for a diplomatic solution, its opponents have not recovered from the futile illusion that they could defeat a nuclear Power. On ways to move towards peaceful resolution of the differences between the Russian Federation and the West, he said that one thing is for certain: that the resolution to be voted on today will not help at all. Rather, Member States should support the balancing amendments introduced by Belarus. He added that, if these are rejected — and the document remains one-sided and divorced from reality — then all present should vote against the text.
JOSEP BORRELL FONTELLES, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, in its capacity as observer, stressed that the people of Ukraine deserve peace — “but not just any peace”, rather, one grounded in the principles of the United Nations Charter. Underscoring that this is neither “a European issue” nor a “West versus Russia” issue, he said the illegal war concerns everyone. Sovereignty and territorial integrity are the principles that the Russian Federation is attacking in Ukraine, every day. If the international community does not condemn such actions, it increases the risk for any other country, elsewhere in the world, to face a similar aggression. Ukraine has the right to defend itself, and to protect its population against daily shelling by the Russian Federation’s army. “The European Union has always been a peace project,” he said, adding that bringing peace to the European continent and promoting it around the world is central to the bloc’s origin and DNA.
Stressing that the Russian Federation must end all hostilities and withdraw all its forces and military equipment from Ukraine — immediately, completely and unconditionally — he added that the European Union will continue to give Ukraine the support it needs to defend its population, as well as provide humanitarian and financial assistance. Further, the bloc will work to hold the Russian Federation accountable for its actions and war crimes. Expressing support for President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula, he said the European Union has worked in close cooperation with Ukraine and partners throughout the whole preparatory process for today’s draft resolution. Amendments and comments made in good faith were duly considered to the extent possible, he said, adding that it is manipulative of Belarus to put forward amendments during today’s debate. His delegation will vote against the amendment, he said, adding that the draft resolution under consideration is very much in line with the Secretary-General’s plea for peace at his briefing to the General Assembly on 6 February.
ANTONIO TAJANI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, said the Russian army invasion of Ukraine a year ago has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the destruction of infrastructure and unbelievable disasters, due to an illegal invasion that violated rules of international law. Italy is standing alongside Ukrainians who are suffering, he stated, adding that the invasion is a violation of the United Nations Charter and international security and stability. No country can be safe if violations of common principles and rules remain unaccounted for.
There can be no peace without justice, which is freedom, integrity and independence for Ukraine, he continued. There needs to be agreement on specific issues, such as the establishment of a safe region around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Mutual trust must be built to lay the foundation for a wider dialogue. A comprehensive, just and lasting peace, in line with the principles of the Charter, is needed, as the resolution clearly states. Diplomacy is needed more than ever, and Italy is ready to do its part. Now is the time to redouble collective support for diplomatic efforts to reach this goal. All Member States represented equally here have the moral duty to work together to adopt a resolution for world peace with a majority, he said, adding that he would vote in favour of the resolution.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), recalling the emergency Council meeting held one year ago, pointed out that the Russian Federation denied its occupation of Ukraine then as it has done so today. Although she had asked Moscow to stop, return to its borders, send its troops, tanks and planes back to its barracks and hangers, and bring diplomats to the negotiating table instead, by then, it was too late — President Putin had chosen war in an assault on the United Nations that struck at the heart of its Charter. What happened next and still happens is well-known: bombed kindergartens, high schools and hospitals; slaughtered innocent civilians; the worst refugee crisis in Europe; an unprecedented global hunger crisis; threats to nuclear and energy security; families forcibly separated; mass suffering; and crimes against humanity. Against this backdrop, the vote on “L.7” is a moment to remember why Member States are here — an opportunity to represent countries to the world, uphold the Charter, engage in dialogue and diplomacy, and lead all towards a more peaceful and prosperous planet, she said. “No matter what else you were sent here to do, I know we all share these same goals in common,” she emphasized, adding that: “On the one-year anniversary of this conflict, we will see where the nations of the world stand on peace in Ukraine.” She then shared the lessons from her trip to Ukraine which she saw in the faces of its people — resolve, deep sorrow and unimaginable pain etched into visages and hope — and urged all to vote against any and all hostile amendments which undermine the Charter and ignore the truth of the war.
MÉLANIE JOLY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, recalling her visit to Kyiv last week, said she heard first-hand some of the heart-breaking choices the war has forced on the Ukrainian people. This is not, and has never been, a so-called “special military operation”, she emphasized, stressing that President Vladimir Putin is entirely responsible for the war. Affirming its unshakeable support, she said Canada is determined to support Ukraine for as long as necessary from resistance until reconstruction. Her country has provided sizeable financial assistance, training, military materiel and humanitarian assistance. For reconstruction to be inclusive and enduring, it must address both the physical and invisible impacts of Putin’s war, she pointed out, underscoring the need to tackle the psychological marks of the war on Ukraine’s people with the same seriousness and urgency as the physical scars.
Through its words and its actions, the Russian Federation is showing very plainly that it does not respect the General Assembly, she continued. More than that, it has expanded its illegal war of aggression and has used its veto, power and privilege to side-line the Security Council. It has attempted to illegally annex Ukraine’s territory through sham referenda and has peddled misinformation and conspiracy theories. Moreover, it has doubled down on its attacks against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, in clear violation of international humanitarian law. The Russian Federation would have Member States believe that this is about forcing them to choose sides, she said, stressing that today’s vote is not about choosing sides. “It is about choosing peace — a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine,” she stressed. It is also about choosing to uphold the Charter, respecting the right of every State to chart their own future and choosing rules over chaos, she said, encouraging every member of the Assembly to choose peace and vote in favour of the resolution.
JOSÉ MANUEL ALBARES BUENO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain, noted that the Russian Federation aggression against Ukraine is not only an injustice for that country and Europe, it is a global threat with no justification. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, created by the Human Rights Council in March 2022, has found that war crimes and human rights violations have been committed, including summary executions, illegal confinement and torture. Faced with this horror, Spain is the fifth country in the European Union to receive displaced Ukrainians, with almost 170,000 sheltered under the Temporary Protection Directive.
His country has further approved the largest humanitarian aid package in its history for a single country, also committing €250 million for reconstruction, he continued. The war has aggravated the food, financial and energy security crisis that followed the pandemic, requiring the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, preventing the dire humanitarian situation from worsening, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Spain co-sponsored the draft resolution, he said, calling for a vote in favour. That not only supports Ukraine’s right to exist as a State in security and freedom, but the fundamental principles of the Charter, the first being the end of war and the preservation of peace.
MARIO ADOLFO BÚCARO FLORES, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, pointing out that his country co-sponsored the draft resolution, reiterated the importance of prioritizing diplomacy and civilized peaceful conflict settlement through negotiations, opposing the use of force. Spotlighting Guatemala’s support, he said that the text of the resolution is coherent with the Charter. Recognizing that the General Assembly has the mandate to approve the resolution, he said it would guarantee accountability for serious crimes.
He recalled that Guatemala co-facilitated negotiations on the creation of a Register of Damages and reiterated support to all initiatives that aim to create a special tribunal on the crime of aggression committed by the Russian Federation. Appalled by the humanitarian consequences due to hostilities against Ukraine, he said that by voting on the text, States would be “giving a voice to those, who do not have a voice”. In this regard, he encouraged Member States to vote against the amendments and in favour of the resolution.
TANJA FAJON, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovenia, commended the bravery and courage of the Ukrainian people, noting that her country knows from its own historical experience “what it means to fight for your land”. While voicing concern over the wider security, political and economic consequences of the Russian Federation’s aggression, she said Slovenia remains committed to assisting Ukraine and its people.
Her country also supports all efforts to end impunity for the perpetrators of international law violations, especially the most serious ones, she said, while calling for redoubled diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation and end the fighting peacefully. The war reminds all countries how interconnected they are, namely through the staggering rise in food and energy prices, and the looming inflation affecting millions of people — especially those in least developed and low-income countries — around the globe. “Let me conclude by saying it once more — any unprovoked invasion of any sovereign country is unacceptable,” she stressed, adding that violations of the international legal order that so many worked so hard to build “cannot and must not become our new normal”.
URMAS REINSALU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said that the Russian Federation, by invading its sovereign neighbour Ukraine, has trampled on the fundamental principles of the Charter, including the obligation to refrain from using force against another State. Further, Moscow has completely ignored the General Assembly’s calls for it to stop its aggression and the International Court of Justice’s legally binding order to suspend its military operation in Ukraine. Noting that Russian bombs continue targeting civilian infrastructure, air strikes are conducted on civilians in densely populated areas and evidence shows the aggressor has used sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war, he called on countries worldwide to recognize the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine as genocide. An international special tribunal must be established to hold Russian political and military leadership to account. “Mr. Putin must be brought before a tribunal,” he stated.
He called on the international community to support the peace plan put forward by Ukraine. Today’s resolution is an important building block on that path, he added, underlining that the war’s global impact will become even more devastating if the international community does not stop Moscow’s aggression. The victim must be able to defend itself and to that end Estonia has contributed 1 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) towards military aid for Ukraine. Spotlighting the significance of 24 February for Estonians — the anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence in 1918 — he observed that last year’s anniversary “reminded us in the most brutal manner how fragile independence and freedom can be”. Against that backdrop, he said his country will vote in favour of today’s resolution and called on all Member States to do the same, stressing: “It is our duty as humans to keep standing behind Ukraine.”
ILIA DARCHIASHVILI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, recalled that it has been almost 15 years since the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation against his country with a consequent occupation of 20 per cent of its territories. In addition, the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions remain the constant source of insecurity. Reiterating Georgia’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, he pointed out that his country tried to utilize the existing negotiations format of the Geneva International Discussions.
Underscoring the importance of the Peace Formula Initiative and reiterating Georgia’s support to it, he said the Initiative goes beyond the restoration of peace and territorial integrity of Ukraine. It defends the core values of the United Nations. Recalling that his Government initiated and delivered humanitarian support to Ukrainians on the ground and provided assistance to the displaced Ukrainian people residing in Georgia, he expressed support to the draft resolution.
IAN BORG, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta, said the Russian Federation’s disregard for international law must be condemned and denounced without reservation. Ukraine is experiencing a grave humanitarian crisis with 40 per cent of its population in dire need of assistance. Nearly 8 million people have fled to neighbouring countries and 5.3 million people are internally displaced or unable to leave illegally annexed regions. The discovery of mass graves in areas regained from the Russian Federation occupation underlines the situation’s gravity. He reiterated that all those who commit alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law must be held accountable. The international community must continue to call on the Russian Federation to withdraw all its forces from the territory of Ukraine without further delay and seek a peaceful resolution of all issues, in accordance with international law and the Charter principles.
Further, ensuring accountability for perpetrators of atrocity crimes committed and justice for victims, including victims of sexual violence and the forced deportation of children from Ukraine, are a priority, he stressed. He reiterated his support for resolution 11/5 on the furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine. A fundamental principle in Article 2 of the Charter is the rejection of an international system where “might is right”. All Member States today must consider the possible result if they do not speak out and reaffirm, by their vote, the importance of safeguarding a rules-based international order and the Charter principles. “It is our individual and collective responsibility in this particular time to fight for these principles with all our might in support of the UN Charter,” he said, urging all Member States to support the draft resolution. “Let’s vote yes for peace.”
PETER LAUNSKY-TIEFFENTHAL, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, emphasized yet again that an attack against one member of the United Nations is an attack on all. Expressing strong support for international law, treaties and customs, he declared: “That is exactly why we cannot stand on the side lines while the basic principles of our legal and security order are under threat.” In the past year, the General Assembly has seen overwhelming support for calls upon the Russian Federation to end its war. States have also voiced grave concerns about the conflict’s humanitarian impact on the Ukrainian people, as well as its global consequences and impacts on food security, the rise in energy prices and the mass displacement of persons. Commending the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as the Grain from Ukraine Initiative, and stressing the need for their renewal, he noted that Austria has bilaterally provided €124 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine with focus on winterization, energy support and basic needs. Citing atrocities on the Ukrainian people, he went on to sound the alarm about the implicit and repeated nuclear threats emanating from the Russian Federation, affirming Austria’s intention to vote in favour of the draft resolution.
RUSLAN BOLBOCEAN, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, voicing his regret over the war’s continuation for a year now, spotlighted his country’s ongoing support to Ukraine, including the recent decision to introduce temporary protection mechanisms for Ukrainian refugees. As his country has also felt the security consequences of this war with at least four missiles crossing its airspace and several incidents of missile debris landing in its territory, the Republic of Moldova remains committed to countering these risks in a systemic, legal and peaceful manner. “It is our moral duty, as an international community, to continue supporting Ukraine,” he stressed, underlining the need to ensure accountability through timely, fair and independent investigations at the national and international level. He then reiterated his call to the Russian Federation to immediately stop its war of aggression, withdraw its forces and military equipment and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
BERNARDO IVO CRUZ, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, associating himself with the European Union, said his country supports the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine. It will continue to provide assistance to its Government and people, both bilaterally and through the European Union and the United Nations, for as long as it takes. Portugal has received nearly 60,000 requests for temporary protection and its humanitarian aid continues to grow. It is also engaged in the reconstruction of schools in the Zhytomyr region. He also spotlighted the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which has so far allowed the shipment of more than 21 million tons of grain, and voiced hope that all parties will ensure its continuity. Many agencies, funds and programmes in the United Nations system are doing everything within their capacity to address the global consequences of the war. The Russian Federation must act in accordance with the Charter, respect the sovereignty of Ukraine and withdraw from its territory. The draft resolution is an important step in that direction, he said, calling on all Member States to support it.
MARTIN EYJÓLFSSON, Permanent Secretary of State of Iceland, aligning himself with the statement to be made by Denmark for the Nordic countries, affirmed that with this horrendous act of aggression, the Russian Federation has assaulted not only Ukraine but the international community’s common institutions, values and basic human rights. “Our admiration for the courage and resilience of the people of Ukraine grows with each day they valiantly defend their country,” he stressed, adding their sacrifice and suffering must not be in vain. Stating that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, “the captain of team Ukraine”, has changed the very notion of leadership, he stressed the Russian Federation can and must stop this war today and withdraw all its forces from Ukraine in full respect of its recognized right to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Accountability for international crimes committed within the context of the war — including the crime of aggression — is vital to ensure justice and reparations. Ending the war and defending Ukraine is a collective responsibility owed to its people, to previous generations that built the system of international law and the rule-based order from the ruins of two world wars and their unforgettable horrors, and to the generations that will follow.
GEORGINA GUILLÉN GRILLO, Foreign Policy Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, pointed out that the world is looking at a hybrid war facilitated by rapid technological change and global interconnectivity, adding that all wars have a human face. Calling for a ceasefire, she urged all parties to protect the civilian population, in particular children, and abstain from attacking civilian infrastructure, including health facilities. She expressed regret that the conflict continues to be military with the increased investment in weapon. Many States have not recognized that the continuous increase in military expenditure combined with technological advances and the military industrial complex are promoting the development of more powerful and advanced weapons systems, including artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons systems. In this regard, she highlighted the importance of the regional conference on autonomous weapons systems to be held in Costa Rica from 23 to 24 February. Pointing out that her country co-sponsored the resolution, she said that it will vote in favour because “peace is the path”.
MOHAMED BIN AWAD AL HASSAN (Oman) speaking for the Gulf Cooperation Council, said its member States are closely following developments in Ukraine, especially the humanitarian aspects, as the number of refugees and displaced persons increases, more civilians die and more infrastructure is damaged. He called for adherence to the well-established principles of international law and the Charter that govern relations between States. These are based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, non-interference in their internal affairs and respect for good-neighbourly relations. Article 2 of the Charter obliges Member States to settle international disputes by peaceful means and refrain from using, or threatening to use, force in international relations. The solution to disputes and disagreements lies in using dialogue and negotiations, and resolving disputes and differences through peaceful and diplomatic means.
The Council member States have cordial relations with all parties and encourages international and regional efforts to resolve this issue, in accordance with the provisions of international law and the principles of the Charter, he said. Applauding efforts made by countries hosting refugees from conflict zones, he called on all parties to abide by their obligations, in accordance with the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, with regard to the protection of civilians, by refraining from targeting or destroying any civilian installations. He also reminded those parties of their obligations, according to the provisions of international humanitarian law, regarding the wounded, prisoners and missing persons. Rapid and safe access to humanitarian aid for all people in need must be enabled, medical and humanitarian workers must be respected and protected while performing their duties.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, offered condolences to the peoples of Türkiye and Syria following the recent, devastating earthquakes in those countries. He stressed that, like the climate emergency threatening the Blue Pacific, such earthquakes are a reminder of the many global challenges the international community must face together. That community cannot afford to remain lost in an endless sea of conflict, where “might is right” and unilateral force tramples shared values, he said. Despite their distant geography, Forum members do not advance this position from the “comfortable seat of a spectator”, he underscored, as “our peoples know well the scourge of war”. Further, despite such States’ remoteness, they feel the impacts of the war’s major disruption of global food and energy systems, as the effects of the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine travel farther than bullets can fly.
“These acts reach into our homes,” he stressed, making food and fuel unaffordable and increasing the suffering of people and economies already weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We speak today on behalf of those further marginalized by this illegal invasion,” he said, as is demanded by the Charter of the United Nations. In doing so, Forum members neither forget those suffering in other conflicts nor support the pre-eminence of one geopolitical bloc over another. He recalled that such thinking resulted in tragedy last century — “stained forever by two World Wars” — and that the Charter reminds the world of this. Rather, Forum members recognize that this illegal invasion threatens the hard-won, fragile, post-Second World War framework for peace and security, human rights, the rule of law and development that underpins the Organization. “The UN Charter encapsulates this,” he said. Urging that the rules-based international order offers the best path towards a better world, he supported today’s resolution and asked others to do the same.
JAN KNUTSSON, Deputy Foreign Minister for Sweden, associating himself with the Nordic countries and the European Union, said the Russian Federation’s aggression is not only a war against Ukraine; rather, it challenges the European and global security order. Noting that this flagrant violation of the Charter is committed by a permanent member of the Security Council, he called on the international community to send a loud and clear message about upholding the principles of international law by adopting the draft resolution tabled. Adding that his country will hold the European Union presidency during the first half of 2023, he said that “no other task is more important to us than strong and continued support for Ukraine, and mounting pressure on Russia”. Since the invasion, he added, Sweden’s support to Ukraine has increased with 1.2 billion euros in financial, humanitarian and military support.
Also stressing the need for accountability for the crimes committed as part of the aggression against Ukraine, he pointed to torture, sexual and gender-based violence, summary executions and forced deportations. Underscoring the importance of redress and justice for the victims and survivors, he said the Russian Federation’s aggression affects the most vulnerable the hardest, compounding the difficulties caused by climate change and the pandemic. His country, with the rest of the Union, is working to mitigate the global effects on food security, energy, finance, the environment and nuclear security and safety. The Russian Federation must cease military operations and unconditionally withdraw all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine, he stressed.
JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), also speaking for a group of like-minded countries, underscored that the crossroads at which the world finds itself today stems from the failure to uphold international agreements and treaties and to comply with documents addressing security, development, climate change and human rights, among others. It is also the result of continued violations of the Charter through continued attacks on multilateralism, as well as selective approaches and interpretations of landmark documents and the attempts to replace the principles of the Charter with a new set of so-called rules, to name a few. These, along with the illegal application of unilateral coercive measures against more than 30 countries, are negatively affecting more than a third of humankind and are deliberately exacerbating the multifaceted global crisis, he pointed out.
As peace can only be achieved when States see each other as equals, he urged all to comply with the Charter; end confrontation, deepening divisions and the imposition of dubious agendas; and support dialogue, negotiations and diplomatic efforts aimed at addressing root causes and establishing a just, equitable and sustainable global security architecture. For its part, the Assembly must play a pivotal and proactive role to achieve the peaceful resolution of conflicts while avoiding its misuse, the entrenchment of a Cold War mentality and initiatives that worsen the situation on the ground. “We have a joint responsibility to prevent a situation whereby as a result of our action or omission, the conflict in Ukraine reaches the point of no return,” he underscored.
Speaking in his national capacity, he recalled his Government’s warning a year ago of the three-dimensional crisis in Europe that could result if the situation were not tackled cautiously and in a balanced manner. Regrettably, these warnings were and continue to be ignored. “If we do not change direction as soon as possible, we could find ourselves faced with a global conflict between nuclear Powers which would destroy humankind as we know it,” he emphasized, expressing his regret over the growing and uncontrolled arms race which has diverted resources away from development. A unipolar victory is nothing more than a pipedream, he added. The United Nations must facilitate a peaceful settlement of the conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO that takes into account the legitimate concerns of all parties. Only though dialogue, diplomacy and restraint — without pressure or sanctions — can the conflict end, he stressed, adding: “We cannot allow this General Assembly to continue to be instrumentalized for the advancement of initiatives which lack all consensus such as that put forth in the draft resolution before us.”
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), describing the need to meet for yet another Emergency Special Session on the war in Ukraine as “tragic”, said the year-long conflict has become a war of attrition with spillover effects that have touched all parts of the globe. “It appears that the situation may worsen further,” he said, stressing that Singapore has taken a clear and consistent position against the Russian Federation’s unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine from the start. Voicing regret that Moscow has ignored the clear and repeated calls of the General Assembly to immediately and completely withdraw its military forces from Ukraine and respect its internationally recognized borders, as well as the International Court of Justice’s order of 16 March 2022, he emphasized his own delegation’s view that respecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all States — big and small — is of paramount importance. He condemned in the strongest possible terms any violation of those principles, which are of fundamental importance to all Member States. Against the backdrop of Moscow’s violation and its repercussions for both Ukraine’s humanitarian landscape and global food and energy security, Singapore is co-sponsoring today’s well-balanced draft resolution and urges all countries to vote “yes” on it.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) pointed out that the Russian Federation’s collective aggression has seriously undermined global progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and greatly contributed to a world in which displacement and hunger sit at record levels. Ukraine did not want this war; neither did the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nor any other peace-loving State. Only the leaders of the Russian Federation wanted war by choosing to invade a sovereign neighbouring State with complete disregard for human life and the devastating resulting fallout for people around the globe, he stressed. He called on all States to support the draft resolution since it epitomizes the values of the Organization while highlighting the role of accountability for a just and lasting peace. He also appealed to them to live up to their commitment to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war by creating a special tribunal for the crime of aggression.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), associating himself with the European Union, said his country co-sponsored and will vote in favour of the draft resolution, and called on all Member States to do the same. It is in their interest to defend the Charter. Moreover, the draft resolution underscores the need to ensure that perpetrators of the most serious crimes under international law committed on the territory of Ukraine are held accountable and that justice is done to the victims. He commended the work of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council, as well as the work of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The investigation conducted by the Prosecutor in cooperation with the Ukrainian judicial authorities will make it possible to bring to justice those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide. While the International Criminal Court is not able to exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in this case, his country is among those that advocate the creation of a tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the aggression against Ukraine, as recommended by the Assembly, he said.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), reminding all of the Russian Federation’s claims that it had no intention to invade Ukraine, spotlighted the devastating impacts of its full-scale invasion with Belarus providing a staging ground. Millions of civilians have been displaced; countless Ukrainian and Russian lives lost; and hundreds of hospitals and thousands of schools destroyed. A generation of Ukrainian families have been scarred by abuses, trauma and forced deportation. Across the world, increased food insecurity and energy prices affect every country, hurting those most in need. Yet, Moscow continues with its indiscriminate attacks, endless systematic strikes on civilian infrastructure and its war on the Ukrainian people and their right to exist. Although Ukraine has resisted for almost 365 days, what it and all States really want — and have continually called for — is a just peace. A vote in favour of “L.7” is, therefore, a vote for peace and the Charter of the United Nations, she stressed, urging all to do so.
VICTORIA HALLUM, Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, reiterated her unequivocal condemnation of the Russian Federation’s blatant aggression against Ukraine, stressing that Moscow’s actions are a direct attack on the principles that underpin global peace and security. The only way for that country to rebuild its credibility as a responsible international citizen is to end the war, commit to dialogue, act in the interest of peace and comply with the Charter, as well as the binding orders of the International Court of Justice. She then reaffirmed her country’s strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; spotlighted its unprecedented diplomatic, economic and military support towards its self-defence; and underscored the General Assembly’s responsibility to do all it can to avoid the deadly consequences of war. All States must maintain pressure on Moscow to show that its actions are not without consequence, she emphasized, noting that her Government will reject Belarus’ cynical amendments.
SEDAT ÖNAL (Türkiye) stressed that while it is disheartening that the war in Ukraine is entering its second year with little prospect for peace, there is nevertheless a timely opportunity to take stock and reaffirm fundamental principles. Since day one, Türkiye has rejected the unacceptable war in Ukraine, tried to facilitate diplomacy at an early stage in Antalya and Istanbul and has co-sponsored and voted in favour of all relevant Assembly resolutions. It continues to fully support Ukraine, stands firmly against this war and rejects the annexation of Ukrainian territories, he said, stressing the need for all to ensure that the Charter is upheld. With the percussions of the conflict being felt far beyond Ukraine at a time when global governance is already struggling with challenges posed by an interconnected, interdependent and digitalized world, the trajectory of this crisis cannot be decided just by battleground dynamics. A clear vision for ending this war through diplomacy must be articulated sooner rather than later, he insisted.
NARVAEZ OJEDA (Chile) said the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine must prompt Member States to rally and reaffirm their commitment to the principles of the Charter and international law. Her country decided to co-sponsor the resolution as an indication of core notions of coexistence, peace and security. As the war goes on, the international community is witnessing the consequences of climate change, natural disasters, increased poverty, inequality, food insecurity and terrorism, among others. The Organization and its agencies should prioritize work to find solutions or to mitigate those problems. Noting the deterioration of the arms control regime, she said it is urgent to hold a dialogue on strategic security between nuclear States to allow stable predictable relations, build transparency and trust, and have robust and credible and legal verification mechanisms in place. Underscoring the need for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, she joined others in calling for a substantive dialogue between the parties involved.
JOONKOOK HWANG (Republic of Korea) asked the Assembly: “How many more days must we bear witness to civilian casualties and the destruction of the beloved homes of ordinary people?” It is deeply troubling to see so little hope in sight for a peaceful resolution and simply deplorable that the Assembly must discuss a war of aggression waged by a permanent Security Council member in the twenty-first century. Since the Council has failed to act and remains deadlocked on the situation in Ukraine, the Assembly must advance a firm, unified voice on behalf of the principles which bind all together. Encouraging all Member States to vote in favour of “L.7”, he stressed that this is not about taking sides but rather the joint commitment to uphold the United Nations Charter. He then called on Moscow to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces and urged all to abide by humanitarian and human rights laws. “As we are now moving into the second year of the war, we are compelled to raise a key question: whose side is time on?” he wondered. Answering, he underscored that time is on the side of freedom, justice, human rights, the rule of law and the Charter and not on the side of mass atrocities.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) underscored that the General Assembly has a duty to promote respect for international law and to champion compliance with the March 2022 ruling handed down by the International Court of Justice. Recalling that Heads of State and Government last September almost unanimously committed themselves to peace and appealed for it to be defended, he asked how many times since then Member States have invoked the provisions of the Charter, such as Article 2.4, whereby States must refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of another State, or Article 2.3 on the peaceful settlement of disputes. A comprehensive and sustainable peace is vital and possible, and it is for this reason that his country decided to co-sponsor the draft resolution. He voiced regret that the amendments presented by Belarus seek to divide and undermine the draft resolution. Drawing attention to the civilians and children who have died or been displaced as a result of the invasion, he said his country will reject those amendments and vote for the resolution.
AMATLAIN ELIZABETH KABUA (Marshall Islands) reaffirmed the Palikir Communique of the twenty-first Micronesian Presidents’ Summit of 13 February in which the five leaders of Micronesian island nations condemned the Russian Federation’s illegal, brutal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Expressing concern as well over the sharp tone of geopolitical confrontation in her region, she said that they, as small nations of vulnerable populations, rely closely on effective multilateral outcomes. Spotlighting atrocities committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine, including indiscriminate targeting, devastation, conflict-related sexual violence and abduction of children, she underscored the importance of accountability mechanisms. While some may choose to vote only based on politics, others do so to express moral character, she emphasized, declaring that her country will vote in favour of the resolution on a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.
GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel), expressing his support for “L.7”, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Ukraine, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity. His Government has provided over 100 tons of humanitarian equipment and aid; armoured ambulances; training for Ukrainian professionals in the fields of emergency management, welfare and post-trauma therapy; a field hospital; and treatment for hundreds in hospitals and rehabilitation centres across Israel. His country will also increase its support on health care and civilian infrastructure and will assist in the development of a smart early warning system to save Ukrainian lives from imminent rocket and missile attacks. He then called attention to the threat posed by Iran whose arms and weapons are wreaking havoc in Ukraine, killing innocent civilians and destroying infrastructure. Warning of what could happen if Iran were to become a nuclear threshold State, he called for the international community to wake up and stop Tehran.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) reiterated that States must act in stringent compliance with the Charter; always champion dialogue, negotiation and actions to avoid escalating tensions; and settle disputes peacefully. Spotlighting Mexico’s efforts as a peace-loving country in that regard, he noted that it presented a formal initiative to the Assembly; backed the Secretary-General’s efforts to open channels to address critical situations; and has unequivocally supported the judicial processes of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. Violations of international law are not admissible and must not go unpunished, he underscored. Adding that his Government also participated actively in the negotiations on “L.7”, he then voiced his regret that the last-minute amendments had not been tabled in sufficient time for their full consideration. He also expressed his support for Ukraine and called on all parties to cease hostilities and end Charter violations.
MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia), stressing that the Russian Federation aggression cannot be normalized nor minimized, urged all Member States to support the resolution. He called on the Russian Federation to end its war and unconditionally withdraw from Ukraine’s territory. The ongoing injuries suffered by Ukraine as a result of the Russian Federation’s violations of international law also require full reparation by that country, he added. Australia has imposed sanctions on Belarusian and Iranian targets involved in the Russian Federation’s war efforts, he said, underscoring that those who provide material support to the Russian Federation will face consequences. His Government has committed approximately $655 million in assistance to empower Ukraine to resolve the conflict on its own terms and meet the immediate needs of the Ukrainian people. Australia has also imposed over 900 targeted financial sanctions on those responsible, as well as comprehensive import and export bans. It continues to work with partners to impose costs on the Russian Federation in the multilateral system to show that the invasion has severe consequences for its global standing, he said.
JEEM LIPPWE (Federated States of Micronesia), aligning himself with the Pacific Island Forum, said the war in Ukraine has intensified with disturbing human rights violations while displacing millions of people and causing death and destruction. It is disconcerting to witness the Russian Federation’s disregard of the call from the international community for a cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of forces from the territory of Ukraine. Commending Ukraine’s neighbours who continue to provide food, shelter and safety for the most vulnerable, he said that the draft resolution tries to look towards the future. It underscores the need to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the Charter and it reaffirms the commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.
SARAH SAFYN FYNEAH (Liberia) said it is time for Member States to demonstrate their commitment to uphold the principles of the Charter. She joined others in calling on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities in Ukraine and allow for a diplomatic approach to finding a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. Noting the global impact of the Russian Federation’s invasion, she stressed: “The world cannot and should not sit back idly to what is unfolding in Ukraine.” The resolution sends a clear message that that conflict must be ended by restoring respect for the Charter, including the principle of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States. Adherence to the Charter is a viable and efficient recipe for addressing issues of global peace and security, she said, warning that not acting now threatens the very fabric of the United Nations. Her country is a proud co-sponsor of the resolution, she said, urging all Member States to vote in favour of it.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam), expressing his regret that there have been no signs of de-escalation, reiterated that peace, security, stability and cooperation must be promoted through upholding international law and the Charter of the United Nations. He called on the concerned parties to immediately end hostilities, avoid escalatory actions and resume peaceful dialogue and negotiations urgently. Protecting the safety and security of civilians by responding adequately to the urgent humanitarian needs of those impacted by hostilities and by safeguarding civilian facilities in Ukraine must also be a focus. For their part, the Organization and its international partners must continue to join hands and step up their humanitarian assistance to those impacted by the conflict. In that regard, ongoing initiatives such as the Black Sea Grain Initiative should serve as the foundation for finding a comprehensive solution to the conflict, he emphasized.
LUIS FELIPE UGARELLI BASURTO (Peru) expressed concern over the ongoing conflict, noting that the global impact of the war on food security, energy, economy and environment is far-reaching and its consequences are long-term. In this regard, he called for a cessation of hostilities. Recalling that Peru, in line with its State policy, defends sovereignty of States and their territorial integrity, he voiced a firm belief in a peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue. He went on to say that the absence of an immediate solution to maintain international peace and security means the necessity of strengthening the Charter and revitalizing the management of the Organization’s organs. He then appealed for peace in Ukraine, noting that “it is only peace that will allow us to draw a new path forward”.
JEANETT VEA (Tonga), associating herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, pointed out that there is always time to return to diplomacy and seek peaceful means to disputes. To that end, she urged States to reaffirm their commitment to togetherness, unity and solidarity. Recalling that the United Nations was created to safeguard peace for all through international peace and security, she expressed support for the draft resolution and reiterated that violations of the territorial integrity of the sovereignty of Member States are inconsistent with Charter principles. Underlining the importance of settling international disputes by peaceful means, she called for the cessation of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine and for a restoration of peace. She also called on States to pursue all the means available to return to the path of diplomacy.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka), spotlighting that “you don’t make peace with friends; you make it with unsavoury enemies if it has to be”, said that peace talks are a mix of strategic calculation and human emotion. Recalling that between 1946 and 2005 only 39 of 288 conflicts, or 13.5 per cent, ended in peace agreements, he said that the others ended either in victory for one side, an end to fighting without an agreement or a victory straightforward. He also pointed out that even if a peace agreement fails to be reached, talks reduce civilian casualties and can create a foundation for an eventual agreement. Urging the parties to explore mechanisms of peace negotiations and exercise restraint, he said that negotiators must not only reach an agreement, but also sell it to a community that is bitter, traumatized and grieving. He went on to underscore the importance of including women, community organizers and different ethnic leaders in peace talks.
VLADIMIR VUČINIĆ (Montenegro), reiterating his condemnation of the Russian Federation’s aggression, said that there can be no impunity for war crime, crimes against humanity and other atrocities, and expressed support for the ongoing investigation of such crimes committed in Ukraine. Recognizing that the invasion has put rules-based world order that relies on peaceful coexistence under attack, he pointed out that the terror and crimes in Ukraine “bring us to the dark era of brute force in international relations, factoring in solely the hard power as a way of promoting self-centred interests”. In this regard, he expressed support for bolstering multilateralism and reaffirmed his country’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Noting that Montenegro co-sponsored the resolution, he said it would vote in favour of the text.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) expressed regret over the shutdown of communication between the parties to the conflict, as well as the continuation and intensification of military operations. Reiterating that military solutions can never resolve problems, he pointed out that there is no alternative to dialogue to reach consensus-based solutions. Urging the parties and the international community to intensify efforts to ensure cessation of hostilities and prioritize peaceful solutions, he said that collective responsibility requires that peace and security be placed at the top of the list of priorities. Recognizing that recovery, resilience and sustainability cannot be achieved as long as wars and conflicts continue in several parts of the world, he underlined the importance of the international community in addressing issues related to humans suffering and urged it to take an equal position on these matters.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria), associating himself with a group of like-minded countries, said Western countries are deepening divisions among Member States by repeatedly calling for meetings that aim to fuel their hostile agenda against the Russian Federation. That approach is evident in the relentless flow of all types of arsenals and weapons into Ukraine to fuel and prolong the conflict. Those same countries threaten and intimidate others to prevent them from standing by the Russian Federation in its legitimate defence of its security and direct borders. They pay lip service to upholding the Charter’s principles but have time and again violated that same Charter, including having launched acts of aggression against other countries, including his own. Others deliberately turn a blind eye to Israel’s acts of aggression against the Palestinian people living under occupation for more than seven decades, and against the Syrian people in the occupied Syrian Golan since 1967. The co-sponsors of the draft resolution did not call for consultations or respond to the important concerns expressed by some. Their insistence on pushing a biased resolution would in no way contribute to sustainable peace in Ukraine. He voiced support for the proposed amendments by Belarus, which calls for addressing the root causes of the dispute in Ukraine and rejects policies based on double standards.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), reiterating her Government’s staunch condemnation of the aggression against Ukraine, urged Moscow to immediately cease its use of force. Diplomacy and dialogue remain the only way to avoid further suffering. Voicing her support to the efforts of the Secretary-General and others working towards an early resolution of the conflict, she said that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been a beacon of hope. Yet, despite the continued calls to respect international humanitarian law, attacks on civilian populations and infrastructure have nevertheless continued. As humanitarian aid has become indispensable for survival, especially for the most vulnerable, she called for unhindered access to all areas with a civilian population, including occupied zones. Turning to weapons of mass destruction, she advocated for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, its non-proliferation and the total destruction of such weapons. “War is not a blank cheque for combatants; war has limits and these limits must be respected,” she emphasized, adding that respect for international law is not optional.
ILANA V. SEID (Palau), associating herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, commended the bravery and valour of Ukrainians who have stood their ground and defended their homeland. Her country also mourns the sons and daughters from the Russian Federation who have been sent to fight in the senseless war, she said, noting that that delegation’s recycled false statements aim to deflect and gaslight the international community. There is simply no justification for an unprovoked invasion on sovereign territory, she stressed. Member States must not falter in their defence of the Charter, she said, underscoring that their actions set a precedent for the world order going forward. “Might it be on your own home countries where a larger aggressor takes its chances buoyed by the inaction of the world to defend internally recognized territorial borders,” she said. Her country will be voting in favour of the resolution as it stands, she said, calling on all Member States to do the same.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) noted that, after one year since the eruption of armed hostilities, the situation in and around Ukraine remains of profound concern as it continues to pose a serious threat to peace and security at the regional and global levels. Of particular concern, is the ever-increasing humanitarian impact, as civilians — mainly women, children and the elderly — continue to bear the burden of prolonged armed hostilities. In that regard, he noted that his country is taking consistent steps in its national capacity to help alleviate the dire consequences facing the people of Ukraine and continuously provides humanitarian assistance to that country. He said his country stands for the earliest settlement exclusively through peaceful diplomatic means in full compliance with the norms and principles of international law guiding inter-State relations. This included the respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, and he encourages the dialogue between the parties to that end, he added.
EVANGELOS SEKERIS (Greece) said the European Union represent a region where human rights and respect for international law can thrive. Thus, his country fully supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Further, Greece does not recognize the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation, nor does it recognize the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” or the “Luhansk People’s Republic”. His country was among the first to respond to Ukraine’s request for military assistance, he said, noting that it also fully implements extensive European Union restrictive measures against the Russian Federation. Greece continues to provide humanitarian assistance, medicine and other supplies, both in Ukraine, as well as to Ukrainian refugees hosted in neighbouring countries. Moreover, it is committed to reconstruction efforts and to assisting Ukraine on its European path. Noting that the war also took a heavy toll on the Greek populations that have been present in the Black Sea region for millenniums, he said a once-thriving Greek community lived mostly in areas now under Russian occupation. If not stopped, the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine may find imitators willing to pursue anachronistic revisionist agendas, he warned.
GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, urged Member States to always remember that peace is possible. All parties must remain open to dialogue. Subscribing to the illusion that this war has a military solution will lead to “no peace other than the dreadful peace of death”, he added. Throughout the war, Pope Francis has reaffirmed his closeness to the innocent in Ukraine, he said, underlining the obligation of all States to refrain from evacuating children to foreign territory without a compelling medical reason and the written consent of those responsible for their care. “Children must never become the pawns of war or used for political propaganda,” he emphasized. He expressed gratitude to those Governments, organizations and individuals that provided shelter, food and medical care to those displaced within Ukraine and in neighbouring countries. For its part, the Holy See has provided aid to those in need in Ukraine through the Dicastery for the Service of Charity, while the wider Catholic Church, through religious orders, lay communities and faith-based organizations on the ground, has delivered assistance to millions in need, including refugees of war, he said.
PAUL BERESFORD-HILL, Permanent Observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta, said the humanitarian and aid communities have been a key lifeline and a link between a deteriorating human condition and the possibility of hope. The past 12 months have seen a total breakdown in that social contract in a part of the world formerly marked by promise and industry — the breadbasket of the world. Noting the devastating destruction of Ukraine and breakdown of international civil discourse, he stressed that all have a role to play in contributing to a better world. This war sadly has no sign of slowing down; humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine must continue, he said. The Sovereign Order of Malta and representatives of other Catholic and faith-based organizations maintain a presence at the Ukrainian border, as does its work within the country, providing 24-hour assistance to refugees, families, displaced persons and individuals trapped by conflict, through medical-social projects, psychological support, provision of health and hygiene products, food and housing.