21 July 2014
Security Council
SC/11483

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

7221st Meeting (PM)


Security Council Coalesces around Resolution 2166 (2014) on Malaysian Jet Crash


Demanding Accountability, Full Access to Site, Halt to Military Activities

 


Deploring the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on 17 July and voicing concern that armed groups had impeded access to the crash site, the Security Council this afternoon called for an independent international investigation and an immediate halt to military activities in the area.


Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2166 (2014), the 15-member body demanded that those responsible for the crash, which had killed all 298 passengers and crew on board, “be held to account and that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability”.


It demanded that the armed groups allow an investigation according to the established procedures of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other international bodies, providing safe, unrestricted access to “appropriate investigating authorities”, as well as to the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).


Through the text, the Council also demanded that the groups refrain from “any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage, equipment, debris, personal belongings or remains”.  In particular, it insisted that the bodies of the victims be “treated in a dignified, respectful and professional manner”.


Calling on all States and other actors in the region to cooperate with the international investigation, it demanded that actors worldwide refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft and urged full observance of flight safety protocols to prevent recurrence of the tragic event.


Explaining their votes after the adoption, most Council members, joined by other countries that had lost citizens in the incident, expressed shock not only over mounting evidence that the airliner was shot down but also by the treatment of bodies and reported evidence tampering by armed groups in the aftermath of the crash, using words such as “despicable” and “inhuman”. 


Ukraine’s representative, citing evidence that the armed groups had carted away belongings of victims and otherwise tampered with the crash site, said that that was further cause to list them as terrorists.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, from which some two thirds of the victims originated, evoked the pain of family members seeing on television the armed cadres rifling through the remains.  All speakers called for a full, credible, unhindered investigation.


The representative of the Russian Federation said he had voted in favour of the resolution because he too supported a swift and thorough investigation; his country had already acted to facilitate it, and was offering to provide experts.  However, he stressed that there could be no jumping to conclusions.  In that light, he criticized some of the statements made in the Council meeting today. 


His country, he said, understood that kind of tragedy because of the accidental downing of a Russian aircraft by Ukraine in 2001.  In the current incident, there were several questions to be answered by Ukraine concerning the activities of its air traffic controllers and the location of its missile systems.


Malaysia’s representative said it was incumbent that the United Nations honour those killed by undertaking a full, thorough and independent investigation into the downed flight.  His country had dispatched a team to Kyiv on 18 July to help the investigators, he said, noting, however, that the investigators had yet to be given full access to the crash site.  Calling that unacceptable, he urged the full cooperation of all States and actors in the region.


The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia and the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg participated.


Also speaking today were the representatives of United Kingdom, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, United States, China, Chile, France, Jordan, Argentina, Lithuania, Chad, Rwanda, Indonesia, Belgium, New Zealand, Philippines, Germany, Canada and Viet Nam.


The meeting began at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 4:53 p.m.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 2166 (2014) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


Deploring the downing of a civilian aircraft on an international flight, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, on 17 July in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, with the loss of all 298 passengers and crew on board,


Reaffirming the rules of international law that prohibit acts of violence that pose a threat to the safety of international civil aviation and emphasizing the importance of holding those responsible for violations of these rules to account,


Recalling its press statement of 18 July 2014,


Stressing the need for a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines, noting in this regard the crucial role played by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in aircraft accident and incident investigations, and welcoming the decision by ICAO to send a team to work in coordination with the Ukrainian National Bureau of Incidents and Accidents Investigation of Civil Aircraft in this investigation, following a request for assistance by Ukraine to ICAO and others,


Expressing serious concern that armed groups in Ukraine have impeded immediate, safe, secure and unrestricted access to the crash site and the surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and representatives of other relevant international organizations assisting the investigation in accordance with ICAO and other established procedures,


“1.   Condemns in the strongest terms the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives;


“2.   Reiterates its deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of this incident and to the people and governments of the victims’ countries of origin;


“3.   Supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines;


“4.   Recognizes the efforts under way by Ukraine, working in coordination with ICAO and other international experts and organizations, including representatives of States of Occurrence, Registry, Operator, Design and Manufacture, as well as States who have lost nationals on MH17, to institute an international investigation of the incident, and calls on all States to provide any requested assistance to civil and criminal investigations related to this incident;


“5.   Expresses grave concern at reports of insufficient and limited access to the crash site;


“6.   Demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage, equipment, debris, personal belongings, or remains, and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unrestricted access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and representatives of other relevant international organizations according to ICAO and other established procedures;


“7.   Demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation;


“8.   Insists on the dignified, respectful and professional treatment and recovery of the bodies of the victims, and calls upon all parties to ensure that this happens with immediate effect;


“9.   Calls on all States and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate and unrestricted access to the crash site as referred to in paragraph 6;


“10.  Welcomes in this regard the statement on 17 July 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE and demands that the commitments outlined in that statement be implemented in full;


“11.  Demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability;


“12.  Urges all parties to the Convention on International Civil Aviation to observe to the fullest extent applicable, the international rules, standards and practices concerning the safety of civil aviation, in order to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, and demands that all States and other actors refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft;


“13.  Welcomes the full cooperation of the United Nations offered by the Secretary-General in this investigation, and requests the Secretary-General to identify possible options for United Nations support to the investigation and to report to the Security Council on relevant developments;


“14.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”


Statements


JULIE BISHOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, speaking after the vote, said the resolution was an unambiguous response by the international community to the deplorable act of the downing of the flight.  Her nation was devastated by the loss of so many of its citizens, she said, recounting stories of those people who had died, including children returning with their grandfather from holiday, as well as international HIV/AIDS experts on their way to a conference.  However, grief had turned to outrage at the difficulties of investigators in accessing the site.  The resolution demanded that armed groups in control of the site provide safe access immediately for a recovery of the bodies.  Furthermore, those armed groups should stop any actions that compromised the integrity of the crash site. 


There must also be a ceasefire in the immediate area of the site, she said, adding that the resolution called on the Russian Federation to use it influence over the separatists to ensure access so that the victims’ bodies could be “treated with dignity” and brought home.  It also called on that country to use its influence to bring the conflict in Ukraine to an end.  Acknowledging the investigations already under way, she said that it was “despicable” that such access had not been provided; it was an affront to the victims and their families.  “All States, armed groups — everyone — must cooperate with the investigation,” she emphasized, adding that the message from the Security Council to those responsible was definitive:  they would be held to account for their actions.


JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, welcoming consensus on the resolution, said he had co-sponsored it to condemn the downing of the aircraft, to express solidarity with the victims and their countries of origin and to support a full, independent investigation of “this unspeakable act”.  He noted that among the victims was a family living in Luxembourg and he expressed solidarity, in particular, with the Netherlands.  The behaviour of armed groups in the area of the crash was unacceptable and they must provide unhindered access, as well as cease military activity and refrain from evidence tampering.  The bodies must be treated in the most respectful manner, and, in that, he called on the Russian Federation to use its influence on the separatists.  The Security Council must be vigilant to ensure that those responsible were held accountable, he said, stressing that efforts to end the crisis must be accelerated, starting with a ceasefire. 


MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom), expressing grief over all those lost, including 10 from his country, said that the victims were owed what was demanded in the resolution.  He said what had been happening at the crash site was “sickening”, as the separatists had shown little regard for the bodies or for a proper investigation.  Investigators must have immediate access and those responsible must be held accountable.  He said the background of the event was Russian efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and called for that effort to end.


U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said that the incident could mark a new dimension in international security.  Such a new threat prompted consideration of the meaning of global peace and security.  Aviation safety was the guiding issue in the resolution.  It also reflected how the Security Council members could join together in unity, taking into consideration the loss of lives suffered in their countries, as well as in all other States.  The investigation must be credible and unimpeachable.  Accountability was vital, and she demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice.   The attack had violated not only international law but also world peace.


OH JOON (Republic of Korea) offered his solidarity to those States in today’s meeting who had lost citizens in the crash.  The most urgent task was to institute a full investigation establishing solid facts, including about who caused the downing.  He commended the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Ukrainian Government for their efforts in that regard, but said that in order to shed full light it was critical to maintain the crash site’s integrity.  The bodies of the victims should be recovered and treated in a dignified manner.  He hoped that full implementation of today’s resolution would lead to positive changes on the ground. 


SAMANTHA POWER (United States) said that the resolution was necessary as there had been a lack of cooperation from some Member States to support unimpeded access to the site.  Images had shown armed thugs walking around the site, crunching debris and carting away evidence, which had been condemned around the world.  However, there had been too little condemnation from the Russian Federation, which had blamed air traffic controllers and Ukraine, among others.  If that country genuinely believed those elements had caused the crash, President Vladimir Putin would have told the separatist groups to lay down their arms and guard the site so that a thorough investigation could take place.  Only today had he called for such access.  However, separatists had allowed access to only a few Dutch investigators today, she said, insisting that access must be immediate and full, as a “spigot” approach was a form of obstruction.  The Russian Federation could use its influence on the armed groups to stop evidence tampering and allow full access, as well as to agree on a ceasefire and sit down with President Petro Poroshenko.  That would demonstrate its willingness to take steps to end the conflict.


LIU JIEYI (China) conveyed his president’s condolences over the deaths in the crash and supported a full investigation, with ICAO playing a crucial role.  Establishing the truth should be the current priority and no one should jump to conclusions in regard to the perpetrators.


CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), also relaying condolences, said his country had voted in favour of the resolution to send a clear message of support for a credible investigation of the crash, ensuring that those responsible were held accountable.  He urged all States to actively cooperate with the relevant authorities, and hoped that the tragedy would be a reminder of how this conflict affected those beyond its borders and why it must end.


PHILIPPE BERTOUX (France) said the resolution was the first step in ensuring clarification of the incident and holding to account those responsible for the “odious act”.  He demanded that everything be done to facilitate the investigation, expressing alarm over obstruction by the separatists.  Inhuman treatment of victims’ remains must stop.  His country would work to ensure that today’s resolution was implemented; the victims were owed as much.


SAMER ANTON AYED NABER (Jordan) reiterated condolences for victims of what he called a criminal act over the Ukraine and supported a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.  He called for all parties to cooperate in the implementation of the resolution, through allowing unfettered access to the crash site and preventing its tampering.


MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) highlighted the work of Australia on the resolution, saying the consensus was especially relevant, as different points of view had been taken into account, which showed that a collective responsibility had prevailed.  The world had a right to safe flights devoid of fear of acts that breached international law.  Reportedly investigators were being denied access to the site, about which the Security Council must not remain silent or indifferent.  It was absolutely necessary to express concern and demand that immediate, safe and thorough unimpeded access be ensured.  That was the unanimous demand not just of the Council but of the world.  It was no time to point fingers at each other. 


VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that the crash called for a total impartial and full investigation, which was the target of the resolution.  All elements of the truth should be brought to light, such as through the black boxes provided to investigators.  There could be no jumping to conclusions or accusations.


He said that Kyiv was attempting to draw on the shock of the international community, while its indiscriminate air strikes were hitting cities and killing civilians.  In 2001, a Russian Federation flight travelling over the Black Sea had been shot down.  Ukraine had refuted its legal responsibility.  Given that, it would be frivolous to give Ukraine a lead role in the current investigation.  They then would have to answer questions about their traffic controllers and the location of Buk systems, as well as about the nature of radio transmissions and videos of actors allegedly involved.  “Today’s meeting was not going to be controversial”, he said, pointing to his country’s participation in assisting the international investigation.  Referring to comments made by the United States’ representative, he said there was no need to turn the tragedy into a farce.


DAINIUS BAUBLYS (Lithuania), extending condolences for the victims, said that their remains must be treated with dignity.  He looked forward to a thorough and independent investigation.  “Impunity will not go unpunished,” he stressed, regretting any tampering at the crash site.  The Secretary-General should provide support to the investigation, as requested in today’s resolution, as quickly as possible.  He strongly criticized the human rights record of the separatist rebels and called on the Russian Federation to respect the territorial integrity of its neighbours.


MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad), reiterating condolences, hoped that all light would be shed on what he called “these heinous crimes” and that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.  In that context, he called for safe, unhindered access to the crash site by investigators, stressing the need to maintain its integrity.


EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA (Rwanda), speaking in his national capacity, also extending condolences, said that, as a matter of principal, the deceased and their families must be accorded the dignity they deserved, including by bringing to light the circumstances of the event and bringing to justice its perpetrators.  He condemned in the strongest terms any evidence tampering by armed groups in control of the site.  He called for a political dialogue based on the Ukrainian President’s peace plan and respect for that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


FRANCISCUS CORNELIS GERARDUS MARIA TIMMERMANS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, acknowledged his country’s grief and outrage at the downed flight, as well as despair over the “excruciatingly slow process” of securing the crash site and recovering the victims’ remains.  The priority was to bring those bodies home; however, there had been disturbing reports of bodies being moved about and looted for their possessions.  It was beyond his understanding why it took so much time for rescue workers to be allowed to do their work, or why human remains could be used in a political game.  Images of victims’ luggage being opened or their passports being shown had turned the Netherlands’ grief into anger, and he demanded unimpeded access to the terrain and respectful treatment of the crash site. 


He called on the Security Council, on anyone with influence on the situation on the ground, to allow victims’ remains to be brought home without further delay.  His country had agreed to assume a leading role in a proper investigation as envisaged in today’s resolution.  Once the investigation ascertained who was responsible, accountability and justice must be pursued and delivered.  “We owe that to the victims, to justice, to humanity,” he said.


HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) underscored that no amount of measures would ever compensate or assuage the grief and suffering of the families and loved ones of the victims.  It was incumbent that the United Nations honour those killed by undertaking a full, thorough and independent investigation into the downed flight.  After informing the Security Council that his country would dispatch a team on 18 July to help investigators, that team had arrived in Kyiv on Saturday, 19 July, joining other national teams from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, known as the Joint International Investigation Team. 


However, he said, the team had yet to be given full access to the crash site.  That was unacceptable, and he reiterated the call on all States and actors in the region to cooperate fully, including by ensuring the safety and security of the investigation teams.  One priority of the Malaysian team was the recovery, identification and repatriation of the bodies and remains of the victims.  The flight was a civilian airliner and evidence had been established that it had been shot down.  Those accountable must be brought to justice, he said, calling for the resolution’s full implementation by all concerned parties.


DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said he shared the pain of those who had lost families and citizens and called for the cooperation of all actors in investigating the crash, as well as in ensuring the respectful return of victims’ bodies.  He demanded that those responsible for this “heinous crime” be brought to justice. 


YURIY SERGEYEV (Ukraine) said that today all of Ukraine was mourning and expressing sorrow at the embassies of the countries that had lost citizens in the aircraft’s downing.  Today’s resolution would help to facilitate the necessary investigation of the crash.  INTERPOL and Russian experts had been invited to participate, and he called on the Russian Federation to use its influence on those in control of the site to ensure access to it.  He hoped the investigation would answer questions of not only who had fired the missiles that had brought down the plane, but also where they obtained those weapons.


He said that his country was willing to transfer leadership in the investigation to the Netherlands, as the country that had suffered the greatest loss.  He accused the separatists of having committed three crimes — bringing down the aircraft, mistreating the bodies and hampering an investigation — and insisted that they be put on the list of terrorist organizations.  He said that there was evidence of pilfering of the remains, as well as much evidence that the Russian Federation was financing and otherwise supporting the separatists.  He called on that country to end that support, to cooperate with the Ukrainian President’s peace plan and to work with his country for peace in the region. 


PASCAL BUFFIN (Belgium), reiterating its condemnation of the downing of the airplane as well his call for a full, independent investigation, expressed concern over reports of the mishandling of the crash site by armed groups.  He said that the first priority now must be identification and repatriation of the bodies of the victims in a dignified way.  He called on all parties to use their influence on the actors on the ground to ensure immediate access and the start of the investigation.  Noting that today was Belgium’s national holiday, he said that the country was still in mourning for the victims, among whom were six Belgians.


JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) called for access to the site and for a full investigation and cooperation.  The crash was not an accident; it was a criminal act on national and international levels, which meant the crash site was a crime scene.  However, the armed groups had removed evidence including the black boxes.  Although those boxes had been handed over to investigators, they never should have been touched by unauthorized personnel.  He called for immediate cooperation and full access to the site.  The Russian Federation should also use its influence so that progress was made immediately.  Referring to reports and images of personal effects being tampered with, he said that those looters who had played with the toys of the killed children on board were beneath contempt.  The reports of bodies being removed to Amsterdam were welcome, but that should have happened days ago. 


LIBRAN CABACTULAN (Philippines) said that his country had lost a mother and her two children on the downed flight.  He called for a full, thorough and independent international investigation, especially in light of reports that it had been caused by a surface-to-air missile.  Voicing concern that the integrity of the crash site had been compromised, he insisted that it be secured and that investigators be granted unfettered access to it.  “This unspeakable tragedy demands complete closure,” he said, adding that the perpetrators should be identified and held fully accountable.


HEIKO THOMS (Germany), mourning the loss of life on the Malaysia Airlines flight, including four German citizens, expressed shock at mounting evidence that the airliner was shot down, calling that an outrageous crime and deeming the current handling of the crash site “abominable”.  He called for unhindered access for international experts and monitors, allowing the immediate start of a thorough investigation, as well as a guarantee against further tampering with possible evidence.  He added that the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire must be reciprocated immediately by the separatists.  He also expected the Russian Federation to bring its influence to bear on the separatists to help bring an end to the fighting and full support to the investigation.


GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI (Canada), welcoming the 17 July statement by the Trilateral Contact Group, said, however, that declarations were not enough.  The Russian Federation and pro-Russian militants must match words with deeds and cooperate fully with the investigation.  Pointing to President Putin’s continued support for the armed groups in the area, he said that the President had the ability to end the conflict by ending his support to pro-Russian forces and the build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border, as well as by withdrawing his troops from Crimea and using his country’s “considerable influence” to broker a ceasefire.


LE HOAI TRUNG (Viet Nam), speaking in his national capacity, referred to the statement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) condemning the downing of the flight.  Offering condolences to the countries whose citizens had been killed in the crash, he reiterated that the flight route had been deemed safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization and was one that was utilized by many international airlines flying the Asia-Europe route.  A full, independent and transparent investigation into the disaster must not be hindered.


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