UN Charter ‘Is Our Road Map’ to Peaceful World, De-escalation of War in Ukraine, Secretary-General Tells Security Council in Open Debate
Ukraine’s President Says Peace Formula Could Restore Charter’s Real Power, but Russian Federation Minister Says West Undermines Principles
Urging dialogue, diplomacy and a just peace among Member States, the United Nations chief called on world leaders today to use tools at their disposal provided for by the Charter of the United Nations to prevent the further escalation of the war in Ukraine, during the Security Council’s high-level open debate on effective multilateralism and the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine.
“The United Nations Charter is our road map to a more peaceful world,” said Secretary-General António Guterres, pointing out that tools and mechanisms founded on the Charter’s principles are a how-to manual for resolving conflict. He urged Governments to recommit to their obligations therein and use the full range of diplomatic tools that it provides.
Stressing that the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, he described the Organization’s efforts to mitigate its impact on people, both in the country and around the world, including ensuring the safe and secure exports of grain and fertilizer from the two neighbouring countries. Continuing the war risks a dangerous escalation, he said, emphasizing: “There is never an alternative to dialogue, diplomacy and a just peace.”
In the ensuing debate, over 55 Heads of State and Government, ministers and other senior Government officials took the floor, a great majority denouncing the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, calling it a violation of international law and an attack on multilateralism. Many speakers, also spotlighting global food insecurity as well as a growing nuclear threat, urged Moscow to end its war, while others underlined dialogue and diplomacy as the path to peace.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, expressing his gratitude for countries that recognized Moscow’s war as violating the UN Charter, underlined that Kyiv is exercising its right to self-defence. However, as the UN is in a deadlock on matters of aggression, Ukraine’s peace formula has become the basis for updating the existing world security architecture and restoring the real power of the Charter.
Countering that view, Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that unfortunately, following the Second World War, the West, led by the United States, decided that it will determine the fate of all humankind. Today it turns selectively to the principles and norms of the Charter, case-by-case, resulting in the shaking of global stability and the creation of a new hotbed of tensions, he said, stressing the need for a polycentric equitable world order.
Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, Council President for September, speaking in his national capacity, stressed: “This war must be everyone’s business.” The force of rules and values brings Member States together and should not be replaced by rules of force, he said, urging Member States to discuss how to support Ukraine or to end the war, even if their positions may differ. Although the abuse of the right to veto has paralyzed the Security Council, it has not reduced it to silence, he underscored, urging the Council to act decisively on behalf of the entire world.
Many speakers joined Guillermo Lasso Mendoza, President of Ecuador, in highlighting the Charter and the principle of territorial integrity of States enshrined therein. It is a unique document — it is one and indivisible — and its content is the same in all languages, he said, observing: “There is no version in Russian, nor is there a different version in Spanish.” Stressing that its military aggression against its neighbour is a blow to multilateralism, he appealed to the Russian Federation to give peace a chance and suspend its military operation against Ukraine.
Echoing other speakers, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-addo, President of Ghana, pointed to the devastating toll on the people in Ukraine and the rest of the world, emphasizing that neither geopolitical boundaries nor political ideology have been able to isolate any State from the crisis. Joining calls for institutional reform, including the veto power, he stressed: “We cannot continue to have a Security Council that is structurally limited from being effective and yet demands universal acceptance for its decisions.”
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, was among several delegations who denounced the Russian Federation’s use of hunger as a weapon of war. Noting that the Russian Federation is on track for a record year of grain exports, he said: “The hungrier the world is, the more Moscow profits.” Ukrainians are not giving up and “we are not giving up either”, he stressed, pointing to Member States’ joint peace efforts and President Zelenskyy’s 10-point plan — for which many delegations expressed their support.
Several country representatives, including Mariam Almheiri, Minister for Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, detailed their efforts to support the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Noting its $100 million pledge to help address that situation, she reported that her country has sent 11 airlifts of relief and medical supplies for children and the elderly and provided more than 2,500 generators and 23 ambulances. Last month in Jeddah, the United Arab Emirates joined a diverse set of nations united in the common cause of peace in Ukraine, she added.
Ma Zhaoxu, Executive Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, joining many delegations urging dialogue between the concerned parties, also voiced concern about the conflict’s threat to nuclear security. Stressing that a prolonged and expanded crisis is in no one’s interest, he said it is important to stick to the path of political settlement, help parties concerned to build consensus, initiate talks for peace and cease hostilities at an early date.
Due to time constraints, the meeting suspended and will resume Thursday, 21 September.
MAINTENANCE OF INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) asked on what basis the Security Council President proposed to give President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine the floor before Council members speak, many of whom are also represented at the level of Heads of State and Government. He also asked on what basis the Council President is inviting the Minister for Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia to today’s meeting in his capacity as Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
EDI RAMA, Prime Minister of Albania, speaking in his capacity as Council President for September, said that notice of the planned speaking order was given to all Council members. Quoting paragraph 33 of Presidential Note S/2017/507, he said: “The Security Council agrees that, when non-members are invited to speak to the Security Council, those who have a direct interest in the outcome of the matter under consideration may speak prior to Council members, if appropriate.”
Given the subject of the meeting, inviting President Zelenskyy to speak before Council members amply conforms to that provision, he said. Moreover, doing so will allow Council members and other Member States to respond to his remarks. Ample precedents exist, he pointed out, stressing: “I want to assure our Russian colleagues and everyone here that this is not a special operation by the Albanian presidency, but a continuation of a long and well-established practice of this Council. And today’s speaking order, therefore, is in full conformity with the Council’s guidelines and practice.”
Regarding the second question, he said OSCE has an important role and is present because of its essential contribution to today’s meeting. Indeed, the OSCE representative is an Albanian, from North Macedonia, he said, asking the Russian Federation delegation to clarify the issue.
Mr. NEBENZIA, noting that the Council President’s arguments are not compelling, pointed out that, while there are precedents related to other files in the Council’s agenda, a specific practice has unfolded linked to the specificities of certain regions, which have nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine. He warned the Council President that should he “bang the gavel”, thereby implementing his decision, the Albanian presidency will be tainted with an egregious precedent of violating the Council’s existing practice. Western members of the Council from the beginning have pushed through the participation of President Zelenskyy three times in blatant disregard for the Council’s authority. That leader’s participation should be in line with existing practice and, thus, should follow Council members, especially when other delegations are represented at Head of State and Government level.
The matter concerning the Chairperson of the OSCE has nothing to do with his nationality, he added, stressing that any statement must be in line with its mandate and not depart from the consensual position of the organization. The OSCE, due to the destructive approach adopted by Western delegations, has only exacerbated the situation on Ukraine, he said, urging the Council to adopt a principled position on the issue. Moreover, the Albanian presidency has placed its NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) political and ideological beliefs above the application of Council president and should adopt an impartial position.
MR. RAMA said the Russian Federation’s lecture on the violation of rules is “an impressive shoot”. Pointing to the Russian Federation’s claim about President Zelenskyy violating the Council rules, he stated: “There is a solution for this, if you agree. You stop the war, and President Zelenskyy will not take the floor.”
MR. NEBENZIA reminded Mr. RAMA that he is acting today as Council president and not in his national capacity. “Your objective is to conduct a meeting according to the Council’s rules and procedures, instead of providing political assessments as President of the Council,” he added.
MR. RAMA said he responded to MR. NEBENZIA after the latter addressed him as Albania’s Prime Minister and after he said incorrect things about the Council’s procedure.
MR. NEBENZIA said he turned to MR. RAMA only as Council President and not once as the Albanian Prime Minister. Moreover, he engaged in a procedural and not substantive dialogue, asking MR. RAMA to refrain from political statements at the beginning of his statements to the Council.
MR. RAMA said it was MR. NEBENZIA who talked about NATO, Albania and NATO countries coming to the meeting. All that has nothing to do with his role as Council President, he pointed out, asking MR. NEBENZIA if the Council could proceed with its normal conduct, upon which the meeting commenced.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared: “The United Nations Charter is our road map to a more peaceful world,” adding that tools and mechanisms founded on the Charter’s principles are a how-to manual for resolving conflict. The international community’s collective efforts over the years have helped prevent war on a global scale and saved millions of lives. Multilateralism is essential and effective, but is weakening, as seen in the almost doubled number of conflict-related deaths last year. He urged Governments to recommit to their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and use the full range of diplomatic tools that it provides, as well as to consider the proposals for new frameworks and tools in the New Agenda for Peace.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in clear violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, is aggravating geopolitical tensions and divisions, threatening regional stability, increasing the nuclear threat, and creating deep fissures in our increasingly multipolar world,” he continued. The United Nations organs have been clear in condemning the war, including the General Assembly’s overwhelmingly approved resolution demanding that the Russian Federation leave Ukraine, and another rejecting the Russian Federation’s efforts to annex Ukrainian territory. “Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop immediately,” he added, noting that the war has killed or injured tens of thousands of civilians and has led to nearly half of its population — some 18 million people — needing humanitarian assistance and protection.
The United Nations has worked to mitigate the impact on people, both in Ukraine and around the world, with humanitarian programmes distributing aid to more than 8 million people this year in partnership with over 450 humanitarian organizations, half of them Ukrainian, he reported. The International Atomic Energy Agency has established a presence at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and other major Ukrainian nuclear sites to monitor safety, security and safeguards. Pointing to documented evidence of shocking and widespread human rights violations — mostly by the Russian Federation — and the forcible transfer of Ukrainian civilians, he stressed: “Accountability for all human rights violations is crucial, in line with international norms and standards.”
The war contributed to an unprecedented surge in global food prices, threatening millions with hunger and poverty, he noted, recalling that during its one year of operation starting in July 2022, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, together with the Memorandum of Understanding on facilitating exports of Russian food products and fertilizers, helped to reduce global food prices by over 23 per cent from the record high reached in March 2022. The Grain Initiative enabled the export of nearly 33 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs and allowed the World Food Programme (WFP) to transport 725,000 metric tons of wheat for humanitarian aid to countries including Afghanistan and Somalia. He voiced regret that the Russian Federation ended its participation in the Initiative in July and, immediately upon leaving, launched a bombardment of Ukrainian ports and grain storage facilities on the Black Sea and the Danube River.
The United Nations remains engaged with all parties, aiming to ensure safe and secure exports of grain and fertilizer from the Russian Federation and Ukraine, he said, thanking Türkiye for its contributions and urging all Member States to support such efforts. He also urged all countries to do their part to prevent further escalation and lay the foundations for sustainable peace. Affirming the Organization’s full commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, within its internationally recognized borders, he stressed: “This war is already causing limitless suffering. Its continuation risks further perilous escalation. There is never an alternative to dialogue, diplomacy and a just peace.”
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, President of Ukraine, said that, since the war’s beginning, the Russian Federation has killed tens of thousands of people and turned millions of people into refugees. Calling that country a criminal, he said its aggression aims at seizing territory and resources from Ukraine. Expressing his gratitude for countries that recognized Moscow’s action as violating the UN Charter, he underlined that Kyiv is exercising its right to self-defence. Further, General Assembly resolutions clearly recognized that the only source of this war is the Russian Federation. However, because the UN is in a deadlock on matters of aggression, humankind is no longer pinning its hope on the Organization when it comes to defending the sovereign order of nations, and world leaders are seeking a new platform.
Ukraine’s peace formula has become the basis for updating the existing world security architecture and restoring the real power of the Charter and rule-based international order, he said. Outlining the 10-point formula, he spotlighted the fifth point, regarding implementation of the Charter and restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and world order. Questioning what makes the UN incapable, he pointed to the Security Council, with one of the seats occupied by Moscow, who seized it illegally through backstage manipulation in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The Russian Federation’s job is to whitewash its aggression and genocide. “Veto power in the hands of the aggressor is what has pushed the UN to deadlock,” he observed. Years of discussions on Council reform must be turned into reality with a key reform on the use of veto power that could restore the power of the Charter. Most people in the world want to live in a world free of aggression. In cases of mass atrocity, veto power should be voluntarily suspended. Given that Moscow would not volunteer to do so, the General Assembly should be granted power to overcome a veto with a two-thirds majority.
In addition, the Council should be fully accountable to the world, he continued. Therefore, its permanent membership must be expanded to reflect the reality of today’s world, he said, calling for permanent representation for Africa, Japan, India, Germany, Latin America and the Pacific. As well, all Member States should be able to participate in the activities of the Council’s subsidiary bodies. Further, a Council member that resorts to aggression against another State should be suspended from its membership for a certain period. There is also a need for a system to prevent aggression through early response to action violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States.
On the issue of territorial integrity and international security architecture, he called for the complete withdrawal of all Russian troops, including mercenaries, from the sovereign territory of Ukraine within the international recognized border as of 1991, and the full restoration of Ukraine’s effective control over State order and its exclusive economic zones, including the Black and Azov Seas. Only the implementation of these two points will lead to honest, reliable and complete cessation of hostilities. Only the principles of the Charter and General Assembly resolutions will enable Ukraine’s peace formula to become global. Urging all States to join the implementation of the formula, he said that Kyiv is ready to establish groups, such as for national security advisers, towards a peace conference and prepare a draft to be considered at a summit of Heads of State and Government. “Cooperation is key for peace. Let the peace prevail,” he said.
EDI RAMA, Prime Minister of Albania, Council President for September and speaking in his national capacity, said President Zelenskyy’s words convey the pain of his compatriots, their firm determination, the grit of his people and the unwavering hope of his nation. Pointing to the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, he stressed: “This war must be everyone’s business.” The world has a duty to help those in need, including Ukraine and Ukrainians. Although Member States may differ on how to support Ukraine or how to end this war, “let’s discuss them”, he urged. Failure to unanimously recognize who is the aggressor and who is the aggressed would be a betrayal of all children across the world, he emphasized, underscoring that the Council’s main duty is to act decisively on behalf of the entire world.
Although the abuse of the right to veto has paralyzed the Security Council, it has not reduced it to silence, he continued, stating: “The proof is here in this meeting.” The force of rules and values bring Member States together and should not be replaced by rules of force. Recalling the brutal experience of the Western Balkans, he said: “Russia has tried many times to use — or better, to misuse — the changed reality in the Western Balkans, particularly the birth of the Republic of Kosovo, to justify their neo-imperial dreams and the subsequent nightmare they have exported in Ukraine.” The Charter’s preamble calls on Member States to practice tolerance and to live together in peace, he said, declaring that Albania has made its choice to stand for peace, development and progress, to stand with the aggressed, not with the aggressors, and to stand with and for Ukraine.
GUILLERMO LASSO MENDOZA, President of Ecuador, appealed to the Russian Federation to give peace a chance and suspend its military operation against Ukraine, in line with the ruling of the International Court of Justice, which is the world’s highest legal system. Noting that Moscow’s aggression is costing thousands of lives and undermining the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the principle of territorial integrity of States, he recalled that the United Nations was established to spare future generations from the scourge of war. He urged the Russian Federation to be a good neighbour as prescribed by the Charter.
The Charter is a unique document — it is one and indivisible — and its content is the same in all languages, he continued, observing: “There is no version in Russian, nor is there a different version in Spanish.” He also voiced his rejection of the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of a State, or the use of force in any way that runs counter to the purpose of the Charter. No reforms will be successful if countries do not respect the principles of that instrument, he stated, adding that Moscow’s military aggression against its neighbour is a blow to multilateralism.
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana, pointing out that neither geopolitical boundaries nor political ideology have been able to isolate any State from the prevailing crisis, voiced hope for an end to the war in Ukraine and for a future marked by peaceful coexistence between the two neighbouring countries. “The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine is plainly wrong,” he emphasized, pointing to the devastating toll on the people in Ukraine and the rest of the world, particularly those in Africa. The situation is not a lost cause, and the international community can still mitigate “the challenges of the unknown”, he pointed out, urging Member States to work together to repair their growing fragmentation and voicing support for dialogue and diplomacy in resolving the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine.
Detailing several key areas for action, he pointed out that while the organs and institutions established by the Charter, such as the Council, continue to be relevant, its composition and working methods must be renewed through the completion of a long outstanding reform. On the use of the veto, he stressed: “We cannot continue to have a Security Council that is structurally limited from being effective and yet demands universal acceptance for its decisions.” Urging peace for Ukraine, he voiced hope that the Council can help the United Nations to assume an enhanced role in support of peace efforts around the world — for Ukraine and for the benefit of all peoples.
ALAIN BERSET, President of Switzerland, holding up the Charter, stressed that more than ever it is the international community’s responsibility to uphold its principles and fulfil its mandate. However, the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine has violated the Charter. Yet session after session, that permanent member of the Council has denied its responsibility, resulting in thousands killed, millions displaced, global food security undermined and increased nuclear risks. He urged the 15-nation organ to “not squander the most precious asset at its disposal: the trust of those who rely on it to guarantee them a life in dignity and peace”. The 26 resolutions adopted since January promoting peace and security in Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan illustrate that the Security Council has retained its capacity for action.
“Never have isolationism, threats and violence provided the answers to the dysfunctions and imbalances of the world in which we live,” he pointed out. The Council can only successfully fulfil its mandate, and thus ensure the common desire of all people to live in peace and security, if it acts in a spirit of trust and collaboration. “This spirit must guide everyone around this table, for lasting peace is worth more than any fleeting gain,” he declared
KISHIDA FUMIO, Prime Minister of Japan, recalling his “heart-breaking feelings” during his recent visit to Kyiv and Bucha, condemned the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, which is a clear violation of international law and the Charter. Irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus and the occupation and militarization of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant pose a threat to world peace and stability. He said that the abuse of the veto power, which obstructs Security Council decisions and undermines its credibility, cannot be accepted by the international community. Calling for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine conforming to the principles of the Charter, he voiced support for President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula.
“There has never been a time when effective multilateralism, the theme of today’s debate, is more needed than now. We must overcome numerous calamities, including the aggression against Ukraine, and realize ‘multilateralism rooted in a spirit of solidarity’,” he stated. It is time to return to the unshakable principles that Member States have built up since 1945, including the Charter, and work towards a world of cooperation, not division and confrontation, he stressed, also calling for the expansion of the Council in both its permanent and non-permanent seats to better reflect the realities of today’s world, including Africa.
ROBERT ABELA, Prime Minister of Malta, stressed that, more than ever, the world needs an effective multilateral system with the United Nations at its core in order to address the multiple crises impacting the world, including rising the nuclear threat and a climate crisis spiralling out of control. Thus, “we cannot resign ourselves to living in a world where ‘might is right’”, he said. However, the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine constitutes a blatant violation of the Charter, undermining the multilateral system and destabilizing the Security Council. Spotlighting Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defence, as enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter, he said that the Russian Federation not only brought war back to Europe but also generated a global food crisis that has impacted developing countries around the world.
While the Black Sea Grain Initiative allowed almost 33 million tons of grain to be shipped, that country’s decision to pull out of the deal sent grain prices soaring again, he reported, stressing that using hunger and food supplies as weapons of war is unacceptable. He called for a redoubling of efforts to invest in a multilateral system, as well as a Council that is truly fit for purpose in today’s world by being more transparent, effective, representative, accountable and democratic. More so, he stressed: “No matter how difficult or disheartening circumstances may seem, we must never give up on peace. We must never give up on dialogue. We simply cannot afford to do so.”
RAYMOND NDONG SIMA, Prime Minister of Gabon, said that since the start of hostilities in Ukraine, his country has expressed its opposition to the war and condemned the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. He also noted that 570 days since the start of the war, the shock wave has gone beyond the borders of Ukraine, adding that millions of people have been forced to move within Ukraine and millions more have taken refuge outside national borders. Reaffirming the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, he called for an immediate ceasefire and good-faith negotiations between the warring parties.
An alternative path to war is possible and it must be found through the existing instruments under the Charter and the relevant Council resolutions, he continued. Stressing that unilateral actions only contribute to intensifying the situation, harden positions and fuel antagonisms, he said that such measures should be prohibited. Expressing support for every peace process, every step towards dialogue and every diplomatic initiative to silence the guns in Ukraine, he said that Gabon favours initiatives for the peaceful coexistence between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
OLIVER DOWDEN, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said that Ukraine’s fight against the Russian Federation’s aggression is not only a fight for freedom, but a fight for the principles of the UN Charter which affirms that all States’ sovereignty is equal, territorial integrity is inviolable and disputes should be settled peacefully. “When Russia’s tanks rolled into Ukraine, they trampled over every one of those principles,” he pointed out, recounting the devastation Ukraine has experienced, including thousands killed, forcible deportations, disappearances and attacks that destroyed over 280,000 tons of grain and impacted global food security.
However, not only has Ukraine has demonstrated their commitment to peace repeatedly in Copenhagen and Jeddah to build consensus on common principles, but they have also restored the sovereignty and territorial integrity that must be the foundations of any peace, regaining 50 per cent of the territory the Russian Federation seized since the war began, he reported. He called for effective multilateralism to seek justice for the many victims, rebuild ruined cities, create new opportunities, get grain exports flowing again and drive food and fuel prices down. Help is needed to put Ukraine back on its path to prosperity and secure peace. “And that is what we shall do, together,” he declared
ANTONY BLINKEN, Secretary of State of the United States, recalling his visit to Ukraine two weeks ago, said that for over a year and a half, the Russian Federation has shredded the major tenets of the Charter and flouted one Council resolution after another. In addition to violating the principle of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, that country is committing war crimes and engaging in reckless nuclear sabre-rattling. While it weaponizes hunger, the Russian Federation is on track for a record year of grain exports. “The hungrier the world is, the more Moscow profits,” he said, adding it is also using Iranian drones to attack Ukrainian civilians, in violation of resolution 2231 (2015). He also reported that “just last week, Russia hosted North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un,” where President [Vladimir] Putin discussed ways to cooperate militarily, despite the fact that the transfer of arms between Moscow and Pyongyang would violate multiple resolutions of the Council.
“It is hard to imagine a country demonstrating more contempt for the United Nations and all that it stands for – this from a country with a permanent seat on this Council,” he stressed. Ukrainians are not giving up and “we are not giving up either,” he stressed, detailing Member States’ joint efforts toward a just and lasting peace. Recalling President Zelenskyy’s 10-point plan to that end, he said President [Vladimir] Putin has put forward nothing. He urged Member States to send a clear message to the Russian Federation and to all would-be aggressors that the international community will stand up, not stand by, when rules that all agreed to are being challenged – not only to prevent conflict, but to lay the foundation for all that can be done to improve people’s lives in times of peace.
SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that the existing international order was based on the UN Charter — the key source of modern international law. Largely thanks to the United Nations, a new world war was averted. Unfortunately, following the Second World War, the West, led by the United States, decided that it will determine the fate of all humankind. With its sense of superiority, the West began to ignore the legacies of the founding fathers of the United Nations. Today, the West turns selectively to the principles and norms of the Charter, case-by-case, exclusively based on their parochial and geopolitical needs. This resulted in the shaking of global stability and the creation of a new hotbed of tensions, he pointed out, adding that Moscow continues to insist that all provisions of the Charter are respected and applied fully, not selectively, including the sovereign equality of States, non-interference in domestic affairs, respect for territorial integrity and right to self-determination. Yet since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of independent States, the United States and its “satellites” openly interfered in the domestic affairs of Ukraine.
Describing how the West repeatedly trampled the principle of non-interference after the coup in 2014, he said that the Russian-language speakers in Ukraine were denied their rights. They refused to reconcile themselves with the outcome of the coup and were labelled terrorists. Punitive operations were launched against them. In response, Crimea and Donbass conducted referendums in line with the principle of self-determination enshrined in Article 1, paragraph 2, of the Charter. The West has turned a blind eye to this, and instead has taken out all the background and distilled this to the issue of territorial integrity. The regime in Kyiv also violated the human rights of Russian-language speaking peoples by enacting racist laws against “everything Russian”, including education, media and culture, in blatant violation Article 1, paragraph 3. These actions also run counter to Ukraine’s Constitution, which sets out the obligations to respect the rights of Russians and other minorities in that country.
In 2015, the Minsk agreements were reached and approved by a special Security Council resolution fully in line with Article 36 of the Charter. However, the signatories, except the Russian Federation and Belarus, had no intention of implementing it, he said, denouncing Ukraine, Germany and France. They were just buying time to shore up Ukraine’s military capabilities and funnel weapons into that country to be used against the Russian Federation. Citing the Charter’s Article 2 and 8, respectively on peaceful resolution of the conflict and the role of regional organizations, the Russian Federation and its allies are advocating for contacts between the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and NATO. If NATO had not rejected a proposal to cooperate with CSTO, numerous negative processes which resulted in the current European crisis could have been avoided. The United States and its allies are also trying to privatize the UN Secretariat. According to Article 100, the Secretariat must act impartially, not receive instructions from any Government. “Nearly 80 years ago, having signed on the Charter, world leaders agreed to respect the sovereign equality of all States, large States, small States, poor ones or rich ones, monarchs or republics,” he said, adding that humankind recognizes the need for a polycentric equitable world order.
CATHERINE COLONNA, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said President Zelenskyy has been the voice of the millions of Ukrainians who are fighting for their freedom. “This is a war against the pillars of our collective security,” she stressed, adding that using hunger as a weapon of war is yet another of the Russian Federation’s transgressions in a litany of others. Only a handful of States support that country’s catastrophic choices, she pointed out, recalling that the General Assembly, like the Security Council, is largely united around shared principles.
“If we allow Russian aggression to be rewarded today”, the Council will need to reconvene because other aggressions will happen elsewhere, she warned. Noting that tomorrow — 21 September — is the International Day of Peace, she emphasized: “We have a responsibility and a moral duty to act to end this aggression by Russia.” Her country will continue to mobilize efforts, she said, detailing its provision of support to Ukraine’s defence, accountability efforts, and global food security. The primacy of law over force, international solidarity and support for those most vulnerable are principles that lie at the heart of President Zelenskyy's Peace Formula, she said, urging all States who had not yet done so to support it.
MAURO LUIZ IECKER VIEIRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, noting that the world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War, said the Security Council’s inability to fulfil its mandate is undermining its credibility, leading to calls for its long-overdue reform. He encouraged Member States to revive the spirit of San Francisco in the search for peace for present and future generations. While respecting the right to self-defence, as enshrined in Article 51, he stressed that the recent escalation of the war in Ukraine with the introduction of even more sophisticated weapons and ammunition, along with the threat of nuclear weapons, seriously undermines peace and security well beyond the battlefield, violating the core principles and provisions of the Charter.
This dynamic has grave consequences for the civilian populations, in particular women and children, who are disproportionately impacted by war, he continued, adding that the conflict also impacts other regions, particularly developing countries, which bear the burden of food and energy insecurity. To that end, he called for the resumption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative under terms acceptable to all concerned parties. There is no military solution to the conflict, he stressed. Only a political solution that takes into account the Charter and the legitimate security concerns of all parties will bring lasting peace. Observing that the space for diplomacy and peaceful solution is narrowing, he underscored: “We must set aside practices that only deepen divisions instead of contributing to a more peaceful world and work together for renewed multilateralism.” Both parties’ views should be taken into consideration. Talking to one party or the other will not help advance the cause for a durable peace.
MARIAM ALMHEIRI, Minister for Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, noted that Ukraine now has the highest concentration of landmines in the world, rendering nearly one third of the country unsafe due to unexploded ordnance. Further, food and transport infrastructure have been destroyed. All parties must comply with international humanitarian law and protect those objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. Pledging $100 million to help address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, she reported that her country sent 11 airlifts of relief and medical supplies for children and the elderly and provided more than 2,500 generators and 23 ambulances. Last month in Jeddah, her country joined a diverse set of nations united in the common cause of peace in Ukraine.
“In these calls, there is growing recognition of the urgency of the task, not just for Ukraine, but for all of us,” she said, warning that the war amplified the erosion of faith in multilateralism while stressing that achieving peace can begin its restoration. Peace will only come out of diplomatic talks between the Russian Federation and Ukraine; and it will only be just and sustainable if it upholds the Charter. The Council, and its members, have a vital role to play in this process, she underscored, adding: “Though the path to peace in Ukraine may be arduous, it doesn’t license inaction.”
MA ZHAOXU, Executive Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, recalled that the core message of his country’s position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis is to facilitate talks for peace. China has maintained close communications with various relevant parties and the rest of the international community, including, among others, the participation of his Government’s Special Representative on Eurasian Affairs at the International Conference on Ukraine in Jeddah. Stressing that a prolonged and expanded crisis is in no one’s interest, he said that however complicated the situation, it is important to stick to the path of political settlement, help parties concerned to build consensus, initiate talks for peace and cease hostilities at an early date.
Urging all parties not to escalate tensions, he underlined the need to safeguard nuclear security and prevent a man-made nuclear accident. Relevant countries should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and protect the smooth operations of global production and supply chains, he pointed out, voicing support for continued communications with the Russian Federation and Ukraine on the Black Sea Grain Initiative. He also urged that parties to the conflict strictly protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, noting China’s provision of multiple batches of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine. China will stay committed to true multilateralism and is ready to work with the Council and relevant parties for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, he said.
DOMINGOS ESTÊVÃO FERNANDES (Mozambique) noted that, despite numerous international appeals - including from the Council - the protracted conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine has entered its 574th day with no clear end in sight. Not only has the conflict caused immense suffering for Ukraine and its people, but it has also compounded global food security issues, pushing more individuals into poverty and destabilizing regions far from the conflict's epicentre. Moreover, this conflict has impeded the international community’s joint efforts to reach vital multilateral milestones, including the Sustainable Development Goals, and has jeopardized collective efforts towards non-proliferation.
Of particular concern to his country is the intensification of military rhetoric and the possibility of further escalation, he said, adding that it is evident that involved parties continue to prioritize military strategies over dialogue and compromise, increasing the risk of severe miscalculations. “There can be no purely military resolution to this crisis. Should one be pursued, it will weigh heavily on the Council's conscience for generations to come,” he stressed. Advocating for a political and negotiated end to the conflict, he stressed that a lasting peace, consistent with the Charter, remains the sole viable solution.
Throughout the day-long open debate, the Council heard growing calls from over 30 speakers for peace, the need to respect the Charter and international law, including Ukraine’s right to self-defence, as well as the territorial integrity and sovereign equality of States.
OLAF SCHOLZ, Chancellor of Germany, noting that some argue that this war could have been prevented by diplomatic means, emphasized that his country and France have held hundreds of meetings with Moscow and Kyiv since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s attack on eastern Ukraine in 2014. “All these endeavours failed because one party — Russia — chose war over diplomacy,” he said, stressing that there has been no lack of diplomatic efforts.
Many countries highlighted the need for holding the aggressor accountable, with ALEJANDRO EDUARDO GIAMMATTEI FALLA, President of Guatemala, speaking for the Group of Friends of Accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine, expressing support to all meaningful efforts to bring perpetrators to justice. “The journey towards justice is often long and costly,” he said, adding: “But we will be there to sustain the process.” The Group stands ready to support Ukraine’s initiative for a just and lasting peace and other relevant initiatives seeking to advance peace in line with international law, including the Charter and relevant General Assembly resolutions.
Echoing that stance, GORDAN GRLIĆ-RADMAN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, also expressed support for efforts to promote accountability for international crimes committed in and against Ukraine in all relevant multilateral fora, including the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. “By doing so, we should also keep in mind that pursuit for accountability is not an event, but part of a complex and long process,” he said, noting that the transition after the end of the conflict will also be one of bigger challenges.
However, CHARLES MICHEL, President of the European Council, declared that “Ukraine is a crime scene, and the perpetrator is sitting in this very room”. Also in this room are the victims — Ukraine and its people — who are fighting a battle they did not start, defending their country and its children. Stealing and deporting children from Ukraine is an attempt at total genocide. By defending children, Ukraine is defending their families and their future. This is why the European Union stands in solidarity with Ukraine in its self-defence. At this crime scene, there are also witnesses. “What have we done about this crime?”, he asked. Powerful, responsible nations must not turn a blind eye to this crime. He then appealed to the representative of China to persuade the Russian Federation to end this criminal war.
Injecting a different perspective about the cause of the war, SERGEI ALEINIK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, warned that “certain players” polarized the world and his region by aggressive behaviours and by viewing themselves as the centre of human civilization. They undermine international relations, global security architecture and arms control regimes. His country wants a prompt peaceful settlement in its neighbouring country, he stressed. Recalling that the Minsk agreements endorsed by the Council began the process of peace for Ukraine, he said that the implementation of the package could have brought Ukraine to a trajectory of peace. Also rejecting accusations that his country is fuelling the war in Ukraine, he pointed out that Belarus has hosted peace talks between the Russian Federation and Ukraine and hosts Ukrainian refugees.
Among the delegations proposing the direct involvement of the United Nations was STEVO PENDAROVSKI, President of North Macedonia. He said that the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine dealt a strong blow to international peace and security and challenged multilateralism at an unprecedented level. An urgent task now is to end the war through diplomacy. To that end, the first step is an unconditional immediate truce to allow for the start of negotiations. In the meantime, the United Nations should establish a peacekeeping mission to monitor both the truce and humanitarian assistance to civilians.
The war in Ukraine is causing problems elsewhere, some speakers warned, with PARK JIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, expressing concern over the reports of the recent summit between the Russian Federation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which indicated potential military cooperation. Any deal that enhances the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s military capabilities is an unequivocal violation of relevant Council resolutions. Such developments endanger not just Ukraine but also the security of the Republic of Korea, he said, expressing regret that his country’s northern neighbour continues on its trajectory of provocations, consistently breaching Council resolutions and international law.
Other speakers highlighted how all neighbouring countries have been affected in one way or another by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. Showing an example of good neighbourliness enshrined in the Charter, KATALIN NOVÁK, President of Hungary, welcomed Ukraine’s peace initiative and expressed her country’s readiness to join the process. Pledging to continue providing political, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, she said that her country already shown its commitment by providing assistance to 2.7 million Ukrainians crossing borders into her country. After all, “Hungary is interested in a stable, democratic and prosperous Ukraine,” she stressed.