Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC open debate on upholding international law within the context of the maintenance of international peace and security

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC open debate on upholding international law within the context of the maintenance of international peace and security

At the outset, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting to highlight the indisputably central role of international law in maintenance of international peace and security, which is the most solemn task and duty of the Security Council.

After all, proper consideration of most, if not all, agenda items of the Security Council is hardly possible without taking into account relevant legal aspects, such as centuries-old treaties, customary rules, general principles and judicial practice.

Before going into the subject in my national capacity, I want to note that Ukraine aligns itself with the statement delivered by the EU.

Today many delegations highlighted the need to respect and maintain Purposes and Principles of the United Nations Charter. I am proud to recall that my country as a founding Member of the UN chaired the drafting of the Charter’s Preamble and Chapter I at the San Francisco Conference.

The principal objective of our Organization as set up in article 1 of the Charter is to maintain international peace and security. How can we achieve this vital goal? The answer can be found in the same article: through collective, peaceful and preventive actions.

By joining the UN, member-states undertook the responsibility to act in conformity with international law, including the Charter’s Purposes and Principles. In this regard, I would like to stress that every time a member-state votes – either here in the Security Council or in the General Assembly – on matters of war and peace, that vote should be assessed by how it contributes to implementation of the UN Charter.

In the history of the United Nations there are numerous examples of violations of the Charter. I will bring up the most recent and blatant one. Russia’s temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine clearly demonstrate that the violation of fundamental principles of international law by a permanent member of the Security Council is one of the most serious threats to peace and security.

Just think back to mid-2013 and try to recall the situation in the world then. Now fast forward 5 years and look around. It is a dangerous downward spiral that we find ourselves in right now.

The responsibility lies squarely with the Russian Federation, which without any remorse committed what is clearly defined by General Assembly resolution 3314 of 14 December 1974 as an act of aggression against my country both in Crimea and Donbas.

By the way, this worrying trend, namely Russian’s revanchist policy of using military force against other states, was already emerging in the 1990s in Moldova, came to the fore in 2008 in Georgia and culminated in 2014 in Ukraine.

Moreover, the list of Russian regime’s transgressions and wrongful acts goes on with its overt support of the oppressive Syrian Government and covert operations against the UK on the British soil, as well as clandestine murders traced to the Kremlin in my country.

All these violations happened against the backdrop of the systematic abuse of the veto right and the blatant neglect by the said Council member of its obligation to maintain peace and security.

In this context, we believe that any potential scenario of the reform of the Security Council without at least limiting the veto power of permanent members will be incomplete and will not bring expected and much-needed results leading to increased Council’s accountability to the UN general membership.

Mr. President,

Over the past four years, Ukraine has on several occasions urged the Russian Federation to accept its international legal responsibility and demanded the termination of such wrongful acts. We remain committed to a peaceful resolution of this conflict in accordance with Article 33 of the Charter.

Ukraine’s has always prioritized peaceful - legal and diplomatic - means of conflict resolution. We are prioritizing multilateralism, by turning for support to the United Nations, OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations, fora and mechanisms. And we will continue along that path. We are resorting to all means available to UN Members States to resolve the situation that arose as the result of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.

Thus, we initiated proceedings in the ICJ against the Russian Federation concerning the Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This April Ukraine requested the ICJ to provide a definitive interpretation of its Order that was issued one year ago imposing provisional measures on the Russian Federation and remains unimplemented.

We did this because the situation in the temporarily occupied Crimea continues to be characterized by gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and systematic persecution of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. We are also witnessing further deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Donbas.

We lodged two declarations pursuant to article 12(3) of the Rome Statute to enable the ICC to exercise its jurisdiction over crimes committed against the civilian population during the Revolution of Dignity and war crimes perpetrated since the beginning of the military aggression against Ukraine.

Together with a number of other states we work on establishing an accountability mechanism for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

We initiated an arbitration proceeding against the Russian Federation under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”). We filed its Memorial, which establishes that Russia violated Ukraine’s sovereign rights in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait.

We again urge the Russian Federation to reverse the occupation of Crimea and Donbas, stop its aggression, including by withdrawing its regular armed formations and mercenaries, their weapons and equipment from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and fully implementing its commitments under the Minsk agreements and obligations under international law, including in particular international humanitarian law.

Mr. President,

It is worth mentioning that the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes creates obligations not only for member states as well as responsibilities for the principal organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council, especially in application of the provisions of Chapter VI and Chapter VII of the Charter.

The role of the Secretary-General is also crucially important to this end.

As to the Security Council, its failure to exercise its primary responsibility in dealing with threats to peace, breaches of peace, or acts of aggression, should trigger reaction of the General Assembly.

In addition, let me share with you a few more practical suggestions:

1. We deem it necessary for the Council to reinforce its preventive function. In order to better understand preventive efforts, we suggest as, a starting point, to request the Secretariat to prepare an analytical report on actions taken by the Council before and after conflicts, which will detect weak pointsand help to avoid similar gaps and mistakes in the future.

2. We also consider that reaction of the Council to grave violations of international law is slow and not consistent. In this regard, we propose to elaborate a kind of a test-based algorithm which could serve as an informal guide for the Council members on how to timely, properly and transparently fulfil Council’s primary responsibility regarding conflict situations, including acts of aggression. The Framework of Analysis for atrocity crimes presented by the Secretary-General in 2014 could be used as a reference document.

I thank you.