Statement by Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, at a UNSC Open Debate on Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace

As prepared. Check against delivery.

January 10, 2017

Madam President, we appreciate your initiative to bring to the attention of the Council one of the most critical topics in the field of peace and security. We share the ideas outlined in your Concept Note. We carefully read your Manifesto on Sweden taking a Security Council seat and wish to assure you of our full support of Sweden’s priorities, which soundly resonate with our own.

We welcome the Secretary-General’s views on the ways of collaboration with the Council. We are pleased to note that the approach presented today by Mr. Guterres fully coincides with the position expressed by him as Secretary-General-elect at the informal meeting with the Council convened last November on Ukraine’s initiative.

Madam President, it is not only symbolic that our today’s meeting coincide with the date the first General Assembly was convened in London in 1946.Seven decades ago, the founding members faithfully believed that this Organization has to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. The task’s yet to be accomplished.

It is sad to acknowledge that the world has not become much safer. Some of those who signed the Charter tend to liberally interpret its principles for their own convenience. As a result, the international community has again and again to deal with new conflicts. Conflicts that broke out because of erosion of rule of law, gross human rights violations and lack of international institutional capacities to bring those responsible to account.

Being a lawyer myself, I want to stress Ukraine’s firm and unequivocal position: international law is one for all. It applies to all UN member states – equally and without exclusions. There are no big or small states before the law, rich or poor, more or less equal. The international law is one for all with the UN Charter Purposes and Principles at the forefront.

The Syrian conflict is probably the most brutal armed conflict of recent times. We have witnessed the inability of the Council to react appropriately to the butchery and slaughter that had been happening in Aleppo and other areas of Syria due to the six consecutive “vetoes” from the same permanent member. What is the result? Aleppo is bombed into dust, many innocent lives are lost, the declared ceasefire is barely holding and prospects for a settlement are yet to be seen.

It was the Council’s collective responsibility to prevent such a course of events from happening and to end this conflict. The Council has failed to do so, unfortunately. We wish to believe that ongoing efforts will bear results and a sustainable ceasefire will pave the way for the start of meaningful political dialogue in Syria.

In a contemporary globalized world, none of the conflicts is too far. The international community has spent enormous resources helping to rebuild war-torn societies and assist people in need. Moreover, Europe is also not immune from conflicts. Ukraine has been countering foreign military aggression for almost three years already, which in fact has taken all forms of hybrid warfare.

What happened? The General Assembly adopted resolutions condemning the aggression and occupation of Crimea. But attempts by the Security Council to stop the military aggression were again blocked by the same permanent member. We expected the former Secretary-General to provide his good offices, but he did not go beyond expressing concern. Something similar happened in Georgia in 2008.

The Security Council members and especially the permanent members have special responsibility. Both the founding permanent members and the youngest one, the Russian Federation that acquired the status of the occupying power in the Resolution of the General Assembly last December.

The Security Council, which was established after the II World War where Europe was the major battlefield, nowadays has again to pay special attention the threats to international peace and security caused by conflicts in Europe, which was inconceivable even in times of the former USSR, which was the permanent member before the Russian Federation.

Madam President,

Prevention is a powerful tool and bold tactic. And we are particularly encouraged by the special emphasis on this toll in today's intervention of the Secretary-General.

The United Nations has to use all its potential to prevent the outbreak, resurgence or continuity of armed conflicts. We welcome the concepts of “sustaining peace” and a people-centered approach reflected in various decisions adopted by this Council and the General Assembly last year.

Prevention is but one of the hallmarks of Ukraine's foreign policy. It covers all three UN pillars - peace and security, development and human rights. On human rights, it was on Ukraine's initiative back in 2010, four years before the war, that the UN Human Rights Council adopted the first ever thematic resolution "The Role of Prevention in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights".

As it is well known that gross human rights violations are the precursor to outbreak of a military conflict. It is also most certainly guaranteed that the government of a country aggressor is the one that violates human and civil rights of its own citizen thus getting a free hand to launch assaults on its neighbors.

Last September the HRC reinforced its message to reinforce the work on prevention of the human rights violations by passing a resolution co-sponsored by 74 states. And yet last November we saw desperate attempts of some states to prevent the Third Committee of the UNGA to address human rights violations in certain countries.

Conflict prevention is the most effective way to avert human suffering as well as the least expensive tool in conflict resolution. Unfortunately, too often Member States tend to keep their heads in the sand until it is too late. This pattern must be changed to make sure that Srebrenica, Rwanda and Aleppo will not happen again.

The Secretary-General should play a special role in prevention. We are looking forward to his proactive, unbiased and independent action, which includes bringing the most worrying situations to the attention of the Security Council. This function of the Secretary-General is envisaged in the Charter but, unfortunately, underutilized for many years. That is why we welcome the intention of the Secretary-General to increase the potential of the Secretariat in strategic information analysis.It is crucial also for the Secretary-General to give article 99 a new breath. We expect that these initiatives would also result in more substantive and informative reporting on the issues on Council’s agenda.

Another important but not used tool at the Secretary-General’s disposal is his good offices and other political enablers. These means are rarely seen at play – be it conflict-prone or already conflict-affected states, like Ukraine. We sincerely believe that the new Secretary-General can skillfully manage the entire content of the toolbox given to him by the Charter and will not hesitate to use it whenever necessary.

One more area of interaction between the Secretary-General and the Council is peacekeeping where Ukraine remains a reliable partner of the Organization. The role of the Secretary-General in further improving the way this adaptive instrument and flagship activity of our Organization is utilized could not be overestimated.

Ukraine welcomes the practical steps already taken by the Secretariat aimed at the implementation of recommendations of the HIPPO report. Thisincludes introducing sophisticated technologies to PKOs and improving their intelligence capabilities. However, apart from the introduction of UAVs in two missions, the UN military and civilians in the field remain equipped to the standards of the twentieth century. With new rising challenges, this situation has to be fixed in the shortest terms. Highly disturbing reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers should be also brought to an end through full implementation of the Council’s resolution 2272. In this regard, we welcome, the decision by the Secretary-General to convene a high-level task force to develop a relevant UN system-wide strategy.

Madam President,

Preventing conflicts from going into a vicious spiral of violence often depends on the ability of the Organization to deploy the necessary resources at the earliest stage. In this regard, the Secretary-General can and should play an important role. In cases of requests for deployment of a peace-keeping mission, the Council can benefit from an early and comprehensive assessment of the situation on the ground and recommendations on possible PKO’s mandates from the Secretary-General. This should be done by default once a request is received by the Secretariat thus enabling the Council to take an educated and timely decision.

In conclusion, conflict prevention could be successful only as a result of the collective effort of all stakeholders within the Organization and beyond. We believe that the UN should continue to build and enhance its strategic partnership with regional organizations that share the principles laid down in the UN Charter and respect the rules and norms of the international law. We welcome the close cooperation and partnership the UN established with the European Union and African Union. We also see potential in establishing a closer UN interaction with the OSCE aimed at contributing to the OSCE peace activities on the ground.

We trust that the new Secretary-General and the new leadership of the Secretariat will be true custodians of the principles of the Charter and will be able to take a proactive approach to conflict prevention and resolution.

Thank you, Madam President.