The General Assembly resumed its emergency special session today to discuss two competing draft resolutions on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine — one that implicates the Russian Federation’s military offensive in the unfolding humanitarian crisis and the other that makes no mention of Moscow’s aggression against its neighbour.
“Allowing for safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine, including women, children, the elderly, the disabled and humanitarian personnel, is the need of the hour,” said Enrique Austria Manalo (Philippines), Vice-President of the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of Assembly President Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), as he reopened the special session.
According to United Nations data, of Ukraine’s population of 44 million, some 3.56 million people have fled the country and 6.5 million have been internally displaced since 24 February. This means 1 in 4 people have been uprooted, he said, warning that essential services such as water, electricity, heating and emergency health and social services are under severe strain. This is projected to expand humanitarian needs among millions of Ukrainians and other community members, he said, urging all parties to respect international law and international humanitarian law.
The eleventh emergency special session opened on 28 February and closed on 2 March after adopting a resolution by which the Assembly demanded that the Russian Federation immediately cease its unlawful use of force against its neighbour. That resolution was adopted by a vote of 141 in favour to 5 against (Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Russian Federation and Syria) with 35 abstentions. (See Press Releases GA/12404, GA/12406 and GA/12407).
[Under Assembly resolution 377A(V), commonly known as the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, the world body resolved that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, it shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures. This includes, in a case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression, the use of armed force when necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.]
In today’s meeting, more than 60 delegations took the floor to exchange views on the two rival resolutions. The draft titled “humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine” (document A/ES-11/L.2) demands an immediate cessation of the hostilities by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, in particular of any attacks against civilians and civilian objects. The other, titled “Humanitarian situation emanating out of the conflict in Ukraine” (document A/ES-11/L.3), calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties in the conflict.
Ukraine’s representative, introducing “L.2”, described the plight of his country as already reaching the level of a humanitarian disaster. “L.2” is a result of collective and informed effort by two dozen States from all regions, including France and Mexico, who led consultations on the draft. Using an analogy of individuals becoming passive when they see street violence in the presence of a crowd, he cautioned against this “bystander apathy”. Appealing to delegates in the Assembly Hall, he said this world body should not be ruled by this street violence psychology, urging responsible Member States to support “L.2”.
His counterpart from South Africa, introducing “L.3”, emphasized the need for the United Nations to adopt a resolution by consensus on the humanitarian situation affecting the people of Ukraine. “L.3” is an attempt to present a text that specifically addresses that situation, devoid of other matters that would weaken the General Assembly’s unity on this issue. Stressing that the Assembly’s failure to garner consensus “would not bode well for humanitarian action and relief in Ukraine”, she said that while the political and strategic issues pertaining to the conflict should be discussed, it should not be done in the context of a resolution addressing the humanitarian situation.
Mexico’s delegate said his country and France introduced a humanitarian resolution in the Security Council, but after two weeks of open consultations carried out in good faith, it became clear that an agreement would not be reached there. With the genuine support of the Assembly’s members, who wanted to be part of a humanitarian response, the matter was brought to this organ. “L.2”, which has at least 88 co-sponsors so far, is the outcome of a collective effort focused on the humanitarian aspect of the conflict and includes diverse views from the Organization’s five regional groups. The spirit of the United Nations must be honoured, he said, adding that the Assembly’s humanitarian initiative is the least the Ukrainian people deserve.
The Russian Federation’s representative rejected “L.2” as it is full of anti-Russian elements and was submitted as a “political anti-Russian show”. “L.2” will only make the situation worse as it will embolden Ukraine’s regime, which has waged war on Donbas over the past eight years. The Russian Federation’s special military operation was launched only after efforts for peaceful resolutions of the conflict in Donbas were exhausted. “L.3” tabled by South Africa is close to what the Russian Federation submitted in the Council, he said, urging support for that text.
Similarly, Syria’s representative warned that some States are mixing questions regarding the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with their hostile political position against the Russian Federation. Resuming this emergency special session to introduce a draft resolution without a vote in the Security Council demonstrates that these States are not genuinely interested in resolving the humanitarian issues in Ukraine. South Africa, on the other hand, was careful to present a draft resolution focused exclusively on the humanitarian situation, and he welcomed this constructive approach and called on all States to consider it objectively.
The Head of the European Union delegation, in its capacity as observer, said the Russian Federation has done nothing to implement the resolution adopted by the Assembly on 2 March and has intensified suffering instead. European Union member States have kept borders open for everyone fleeing the war, he said, stressing that an Assembly resolution must accurately reflect the situation and its causes and urge respect for the most basic humanitarian principles.
Poland’s delegate said that its border with Ukraine sees constant daily inflows of people who are severely traumatized. Of the more than 3.5 million people who have left Ukraine, 2.2 million have fled to Poland; most of them have found shelter and stayed in the country. “In the spirit of solidarity, Poland will continue to admit and provide shelter, food, health care and safety to every person in need, regardless of their nationality, race or religious creed,” she said, calling on every State to stand firmly behind “L.2”. Seventy-six years ago, the Assembly stood determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. “At the moment we are failing,” she said.
The United States, its representative said, has recently assessed that the Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. “L.2” is a response to the humanitarian catastrophe created by the Russian Federation. Abstention in the face of Moscow’s atrocities is unacceptable. The text calls for an end to this war, she said, appealing to “the one person with the ability to stop the violence, and that person is Vladimir Putin”.
Ecuador’s delegate recounted the story of Diego, a 20-year-old fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, who arrived in his country. Diego was among the 700 Ecuadorians evacuated from Ukraine on the country’s three humanitarian flights. He is a living witness that the Russian Federation’s “special military operation” is nothing other than a clear invasion of Ukraine in violation of the United Nations Charter.
Japan’s delegate said the international community has witnessed a permanent Security Council member violate its obligations to maintain international peace and security and continue to ignore the calls of the United Nations main organs, stressing that the Assembly must act by supporting “L.2”.
Albania’s representative said that while Ukrainians know what they are fighting for, “Russians do not know what they are dying for”, describing the conflict as “a war of one man”. History has seen many failures of strongmen attempting to rewrite history. The crisis is affecting the entire world, making the poor poorer and the vulnerable more vulnerable, he said, adding that Albania co-sponsored “L.2”.
Costa Rica’s delegate was among several speakers who underscored the broad humanitarian repercussions of the conflict, including famine and food insecurity, particularly for those countries that cannot afford interruptions of their food supply. She warned that places like Yemen and South Sudan are already on the brink of starvation and now face an even more devastating reality.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Netherlands (also for Belgium and Luxemburg), Lithuania (for the Nordic-Baltic countries), Turkey, Fiji (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Georgia, Bulgaria, Italy, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Chile, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Croatia, Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Singapore, United Kingdom, France, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Paraguay, Slovakia, Greece, Gabon, Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf), Marshall Islands, Hungary, Federated States of Micronesia, Uruguay, Colombia, Timor-Leste, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Viet Nam, Republic of Moldova, Argentina, Peru, Kiribati, Romania, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Andorra, Jamaica and Malta.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 24 March, to continue its work and take action on the two rival resolutions.
ENRIQUE AUSTRIA MANALO (Philippines), Vice-President of the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of Assembly President Abdulla Shahid, said that the security situation in Ukraine has deteriorated rapidly following the launch of the Russian military offensive on 24 February 2022. The intense military escalation and rapid expansion of the conflict throughout the country has resulted in severe loss of life, injuries, misery, and mass movement and displacement of the civilian population throughout the country and to neighbouring countries, as well as severe destruction and damage to civilian infrastructure and residential housing. According to United Nations data, of Ukraine’s 44 million population, some 3.56 million people have fled the country and 6.5 million have been internally displaced since 24 February. This means 1 in 4 people have been uprooted. Essential services such as water, electricity, heating and emergency health and social services are under severe strain, and people’s access to health care continues to be limited by growing insecurity and shrinking humanitarian space.
This is projected to deepen and expand humanitarian needs among millions of Ukrainians and other community members, he warned. People on the move are extremely vulnerable to numerous potential health and protection risks, while local capacities in host communities receiving growing numbers of displaced people are already stretched to the brink. “Allowing for safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine, including women, children, the elderly, the disabled and humanitarian personnel, is the need of the hour,” he stressed, urging all parties to respect international law and international humanitarian law.
Introduction of Drafts
The General Assembly had before it two draft resolutions, one titled “Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine (document A/ES-11/L.2) and the other titled “Humanitarian situation emanating out of the conflict in Ukraine” (document A/ES-11/L.3).
“L.2” would have the Assembly demand an immediate cessation of the hostilities by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, in particular of any attacks against civilians and civilian objects. The 193-member organ would also demand that civilians, including humanitarian personnel, journalists and persons in vulnerable situations, including women and children, be fully protected. It would further demand full respect for and protection of all medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities.
Moreover, the text would have the Assembly demand full respect for and protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population and civilian infrastructure that is critical to the delivery of essential services in armed conflict. The Assembly would also demand that all parties protect civilians fleeing armed conflict and violence, including foreign nationals, notably students, without discrimination, to allow voluntary, safe and unhindered passage and that the parties comply with their obligation to ensure the safe, unhindered humanitarian access of humanitarian personnel as well as their means of transport, supplies and equipment to those in need in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.
By other terms of “L.2”, the Assembly would welcome and urge continued efforts by the Secretary-General, Member States, the United Nations system and the international community to deliver humanitarian assistance as well as assistance and protection for refugees. The Assembly would also urge the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine through political dialogue, negotiations, mediation and other peaceful means in accordance with international law.
“L.3” would have the Assembly call for an immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties in the conflict, and encourages political dialogue, negotiations, mediation and other peaceful means aimed at achieving lasting peace and endorses the Secretary-General’s call to return to the path of dialogue and negotiations. By the text, the Assembly would demand that civilians, including humanitarian personnel and persons in vulnerable situations, including women and children, be fully protected and that all parties concerned ensure respect for and the protection of all medical personnel and humanitarian personnel and their means of transport and equipment, and hospitals and other medical facilities.
Moreover, the Assembly would further demand full respect for and protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population and civilian infrastructure that are critical to the delivery of essential services in armed conflict and that all parties protect civilians fleeing the violence, including foreign nationals; allow for their voluntary, safe and unhindered passage, without discrimination, in particular on the basis of race; and comply with the obligation to allow and facilitate the rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.
By other terms of “L.3”, the Assembly would condemn all violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of human rights and call upon all parties to the armed conflict to strictly respect international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocol I thereto, of 1977, and to respect international human rights law and international refugee law, including the principle of non-refoulement.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), introducing “L.2”, called for swift and concrete action by the United Nations in response to the war waged against his country by the Russian Federation, as thousands of people, including men and women, young and old, civilians and military personnel, were killed because Moscow decided to attack his country. Each passing day, the war aggravates the humanitarian situation, which already reached the level of a humanitarian disaster. Cities in Ukraine are being razed to the ground, and neighbouring countries accommodating those fleeing the war are stretched to the limit. Two dozen States from all regions tabled this draft resolution, he pointed out, adding: It is “a result of collective and informed effort”. While the draft clearly points to the root cause of the humanitarian catastrophe, it will send a powerful message and contribute to a breakthrough in the humanitarian situation. Appealing to delegates who gathered in the Assembly Hall, he cautioned against “the bystander apathy”. Individuals are less likely to stop street violence when in the presence of a crowd. The Assembly should not be ruled by this street violence psychology, he said, urging responsible Member States to support the draft.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, of the European Union delegation, in its capacity as observer, said that the inhabitants of Mariupol have been under siege for 24 days and bombed day and night. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. The Russian Federation is blocking the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the evacuation of the civilian population. Every day it is attacking the civilian population and infrastructure, he said, stressing that “deliberate attacks on civilians are shameful”. The Russian Federation has done nothing to implement the resolution adopted by the Assembly on 2 March and has intensified suffering instead. “These are dark days not just for the Ukrainian people but for the world in its entirety,” he said. Millions of Ukrainians and thousands of people from other parts of the world are caught in the conflict, many of whom have been instrumentalized by the Russian Federation as part of its disinformation campaign. European Union member States have kept borders open for everyone fleeing the war.
Beyond Europe, this conflict is putting millions of people at risk of food insecurity, he said, noting that the European Commission has announced new measures to address that, not least in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. The European Union has been a solid supporter of Ukraine since 2014 and has provided 2.4 billion euros in humanitarian and early recovery assistance. Over the last eight years, it has also addressed the needs of the most vulnerable in eastern Ukraine — on both sides of the conflict line — and this will continue, he said. It will also continue to provide assistance to people fleeing other crises around the world including in Yemen, Ethiopia and the Sahel. The General Assembly must call on the Russian Federation to respect the basic principles of international humanitarian law. An Assembly resolution is needed that accurately reflects the situation and its causes and urges respect for the most basic humanitarian principles. The resolution presented by Ukraine and a large cross-regional group of countries calls for the protection of all those fleeing the war and addresses the major consequences on food security in many countries, including developing ones. “Russia must stop this war and end this unnecessary suffering,” he said.
YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the Benelux countries and aligning herself with the European Union, said the group provides unwavering support for Ukraine and its sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognized borders. She condemned the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, stressing that the Russian Federation alone is responsible for the war and the humanitarian crisis. “There is no doubt about what needs to be done and what needs to be done immediately,” she said, adding that is why the Assembly is gathered at this session today. “People fear for their lives every minute,” she said. Humanitarian corridors are being negotiated, but the terms are being violated.
Another consequence of the war is the rising food insecurity in Ukraine and other parts of the world, she said. People in vulnerable parts of world, such as Yemen and the Horn of Africa, will be facing food shortages and more economic and social instability will be created. Grave violations of international humanitarian law are being committed. This is a humanitarian crisis and it shows disrespect for the important gains in international law fought for since the end of the Second World War, she said. All norms are being disregarded and trampled upon. The Benelux countries stand ready to support Ukraine and urge support for the resolution. There is one solution: The same party that started the war can choose to stop it now, she said.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), also speaking for Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden and aligning himself with the European Union, spotlighted the obvious, devastating humanitarian consequences and rapidly deteriorating situation in Ukraine. Expressing concern over the invasion’s potential impact on food insecurity, he said that the Russian Federation — “together with its accomplice, Belarus” — bears responsibility for the tremendous suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people. “Civilians must not be targeted”, he underscored, calling for attacks on health-care facilities and schools to cease immediately. Also pointing out that the Russian Federation is using cluster, thermobaric and phosphorous munitions, he said this demonstrates the “systematic manner” in which that country is waging war on Ukraine and embodies its disregard for international law.
Pointing out that more than one quarter of Ukraine’s population has been forced to flee their homes — mostly women and children — he said that the Russian Federation is obliged to allow rapid, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to reach all in need. Further, safe, voluntary passage must be guaranteed for civilians, including through the opening of humanitarian corridors. Recalling the International Court of Justice’s recent order for the Russian Federation to stop its so-called military operation and the investigation opened by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, he stressed that there will be no impunity for violations of international law — including war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is not only to secure justice for victims but also to deter future violations of international law.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) recalled that a few days ago, some Western countries decided to request the resumption of the General Assembly special session to put a humanitarian resolution to a vote after they realized such a draft would not pass the Security Council. Today, the Russian Federation put its humanitarian resolution to a vote in the Council. The Russian draft took many elements from the France-Mexico draft, including calls for a ceasefire, for safe evacuation and protection of civilians, and for avoiding targeting critical infrastructure and heavy residential areas. The Western-led draft full of anti-Russian elements unfortunately ended up in the Assembly. Rejecting this “political anti-Russian show”, he called on Western countries to vote in favour of the Russian draft in the Council if they are truly concerned about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. The draft before the Assembly will only make the matter worse as it will embolden Ukraine’s regime, which has waged war on Donbas over the past eight years. The Russian Federation’s special military operation was launched only after efforts for peaceful resolutions of the conflict in Donbas were exhausted. He denied that the Russian Federation is targeting civilians, explaining that Ukraine’s regime started using them as human shields and blocked them from leaving via humanitarian corridors. The draft before the Assembly does not mention the role of Western countries that are stoking the conflict. The draft tabled by South Africa is close to what the Russian Federation submitted in the Council, he said, urging Member States to make an independent choice.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said that the situation in Ukraine will mark this generation and the ones to come. The humanitarian crisis is not the result of a natural disaster, it is man-made and the result of the blatant violation of humanitarian law by the Russian Federation. There are 40 million Ukrainians suffering inside their own country, he said, noting that Turkey is working with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in order to address the situation. Some 10 million Ukrainians have — against all odds — managed to escape the horrors of war. There is also a larger humanitarian crisis unraveling around the world, he said, noting the rise in food prices and underscoring that developing countries may have to face even more serious consequences as a result of the war. Turkey is mobilizing all of its resources to help implement a ceasefire through diplomacy, he said. Member States have a duty “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, he said, stressing that “L.2” should be adopted.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) said his Government is closely following the ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor. “L.2” is critically important, he said, noting that it calls upon all Member States to act to alleviate the severe humanitarian consequences in and around Ukraine. Second, it addresses what has created the severe humanitarian consequences. The draft resolution reiterates the demand for the full implementation of Assembly resolution ES-11/1 of 2 March 2022, which deplores the Russian Federation’s aggression and demands that that country immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from Ukraine. The international community has witnessed a permanent Security Council member violate its obligations to maintain international peace and security and continue to ignore the calls of the United Nations main organs, he said, stressing that the Assembly must act by supporting “L.2”.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, expressed deep concern about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. He called on the Russian Federation to de-escalate the situation and return to the path of diplomacy in good faith. He also called for an immediate ceasefire, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to affected areas and the urgent withdrawal of military forces in accordance with internationally recognized borders. The Russian Federation’s actions are a violation of international law and inconsistent with the Charter, he said, expressing shock at the scale of the humanitarian crisis that has led to the displacement of 10 million people. He called on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and international refugee law, and to uphold human rights. In particular, he called for the protection of civilians, civilian infrastructure, medical facilities and personnel, and nuclear sites. He applauded the hospitality of Ukraine’s neighbours and urged that all people be treated with respect and without discrimination.
The Blue Pacific region is concerned with the spillover effect and the impact on issues such as food security and higher food prices and oil prices, including in the Pacific, he said. The Forum relies on the rules-based international order that has promoted peace among the international community for over half a century. Climate change and COVID‑19 must remain at the forefront of global efforts. Actions must be guided by established rules and norms. He reaffirmed the fundamental human rights and equal rights of all people and all nations, large and small.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the European Union, said that after one month of the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, unjustified war on Ukraine, hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed, including more than 100 children. Over 3.5 million Ukrainians were forced to flee and seek shelter in neighbouring countries, while 6.5 million are internally displaced. These numbers already signal the looming unprecedented humanitarian disaster in Europe and beyond, for many decades. Georgia strongly condemns the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, unjustified and premeditated aggression against Ukraine, in blatant violation of international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act. This aggression has been a major wake-up call for the international community. Georgia experienced the Russian Federation’s full-scale military aggression in 2008. This pattern of behaviour brazenly undermines the entire international rules-based order and poses grave threats to regional and global peace and security. “They are inconsistent with the ways how responsible States should act in the twenty-first century,” he said. Georgia urges the Russian Federation to cease aggression immediately, completely and without preconditions, to withdraw all its forces and armaments from the whole territory of Ukraine within its international recognized borders, and to allow immediate, safe and unfettered access to all international humanitarian and human rights mechanisms. Georgia also urges the Russian Federation to do the same regarding the occupied Georgian regions and fulfil its obligations under the 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), aligning herself with the European Union, pointed out that, in less than one month, more than 3.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine and seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Further, an additional 6.5 million have been internally displaced. This “unspeakable war” has claimed the lives of at least 75 children and injured at least 99 others, she said, noting that the psychosocial and other effects of war are enormous and difficult to reverse. The use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems and air strikes have flattened once-vibrant cities, and the Russian Federation has deliberately destroyed civilian infrastructure in blatant violation of international humanitarian law. “Even wars have rules,” she stressed, stating that the Russian Federation is systematically violating all of them. “The use of force and coercion to change borders has no place in the twenty-first century,” she urged, adding that “this senseless war must stop now”.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy) expressed grave concern that the consequences of the war, including the destruction of critical infrastructure, will be felt for years to come. Condemning the Russian Federation’s total disregard for international humanitarian law and the failure of the Security Council to act, he said that a cross-regional group requested the resumption of this General Assembly special session. “If the Security Council cannot act, the General Assembly must retake the initiative,” he said, urging Moscow to immediately stop the war of aggression. “L.2” makes a clear distinction between the aggressor and victims, he said, stressing that Italy will continue to stand by the Ukrainian people.
RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) expressed his deep concern over the growing number of civilian casualties and the increasing flow of refugees and internally displaced persons. His Government has joined humanitarian efforts and has implemented a humanitarian visa policy for people fleeing Ukraine. In response to the pressing need for humanitarian assistance, his Government has donated water purifiers, nine tons of food and half a ton of medical items. With the assistance of Brazil’s Embassy in Warsaw, the supplies were delivered into Ukraine in coordination with the country’s authorities. The conflict in Ukraine will disrupt food systems and increase hunger in the world, particularly in developing countries. He expressed concern over the imposition of broad economic sanctions, noting their negative impact will place additional hardships on already strained economies recovering from the pandemic. “In the end, the most vulnerable will suffer the consequences of measures proved to be mostly ineffective,” he said. Brazil encourages clear dialogue between the two parties to implement their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the safety of civilians and humanitarian workers, he said.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) said it is disheartening that the Assembly has to meet again and millions of people are suffering in Ukraine. Many parts of the country have no basic services and infrastructure is destroyed. The world is looking to the United Nations to take action and to save lives, he said, stressing that the Organization has the responsibility to send a clear and united message to all parties. All efforts must be taken to stop the war and cease hostilities and create a ceasefire. International humanitarian law must be restored and safe passage guaranteed for civilians wishing to evacuate. Dialogue and negotiations must be intensified; this is the only way for lasting peace. It is time for the United Nations to maintain its unity as it is the global body to address humanitarian crises, he said, stressing that it is necessary to restore trust in the Organization.
SUPARK PRONGTHURA (Thailand), expressing grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, called for the respect and protection of civilian life and infrastructure and for the facilitation of access to humanitarian assistance, within and around Ukraine, without discrimination or politicization. He called on all parties to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law. Thailand has provided food, medical and other essential supplies to affected civilians through the Ukrainian Red Cross Society. Meanwhile, the Thai Red Cross Society has provided financial contributions to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and helped raise public funds for its relief activities, he said, encouraging parties to continue bilateral talks.
JOSÉ ALFONSO BLANCO CONDE (Dominican Republic) stated that the millions trapped in conflict in Ukraine are “paying for our inability to spare them this suffering and prevent the fracture of their lives and dignity”. Expressing indignation over the fact that two draft resolutions are on the table, he said the Dominican Republic, despite this, will focus on the millions of civilians who need protection. All laws governing the conduct of hostilities must be respected — without delay or conditions — and all necessary measures must be taken to avoid human suffering, including ensuring humanitarian access to affected populations and refraining from attacking civilian infrastructure. While all people trapped in armed conflict are vulnerable, women, children, older persons, those internally displaced and those living with a disability require and deserve immediate attention. Also noting that the Russian Federation and Ukraine produce 25 per cent of the global wheat and grain supply, he spotlighted the conflict’s potentially devastating effects on food security and underscored the need to prevent the situation from escalating.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the numbers are staggering, with 12 million people stranded and supplies cut off. “Everything is a target” under the Russian Federation’s bombing campaigns, he said, citing the destruction of schools and hospitals among other critical infrastructure. Moscow’s initial plan has been delayed by Ukraine’s resistance. While Ukrainians know what they are fighting for, “Russians do not know what they are dying for”, he said, describing the conflict as “a war of one man”. History has seen many failures of strongmen attempting to rewrite history. The crisis is affecting the entire world, making the poor poorer and the vulnerable more vulnerable, he said, adding that Albania cosponsored resolution “L.2”.
JOANNA SYLWIA SKOCZEK (Poland), associating herself with the European Union, said an estimated 12 million people — almost 30 per cent of Ukraine’s population — will need humanitarian assistance. “The sole actor responsible for the disaster is Russia,” she said, citing the bomb dropped by Russian forces on a theatre in the besieged city of Mariupol where civilians were sheltering, despite its clear markings as a civilian object. “This is a clear manifestation that Russia deliberately creates humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine and blatantly disregards the principles of international humanitarian law,” she insisted. She condemned in the strongest terms attacks against civilians and civilian objects. These acts constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to which the Russian Federation is a party, as well as the laws and customs applicable in an international armed conflict.
“These acts are war crimes under international law,” she affirmed. “We must not remain silent.” Pointing to almost 2,500 civilian casualties reported in Ukraine since the start of the invasion, including 925 persons killed, she said the real numbers are likely much higher. The Polish-Ukrainian border sees constant daily inflows of people who are severely traumatized. Of the more than 3.5 million people have left Ukraine, 2.2 million have fled to Poland; most of them have found shelter and stayed in the country. “In the spirit of solidarity, Poland will continue to admit and provide shelter, food, health care and safety to every person in need, regardless of their nationality, race or religious creed,” she said. She called on every State to stand firmly behind today’s resolution, which was elaborated with and agreed upon by Ukraine and thus respects its particular needs. Seventy-six years ago, the Assembly stood determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, she said. “At the moment we are failing.”
RENÉ ALFONSO RUIDÍAZ PÉREZ (Chile) said that the situation in Ukraine has worsened dramatically, including through the use of new missiles with “staggering destructive capacity”. International humanitarian law signals the instruments that should be used in cases such as Ukraine, including the most robust protection possible for civilians, among them humanitarian workers, journalists, women, children and medical personnel. The security and dignity of all those in Ukraine and entering countries of refuge should be guaranteed, he said, regardless of a person’s status. The international community has the responsibility to protect the civilian population affected by the conflict that is “the fruit of an act of aggression”, he said. He thanked all Member States that are hosting the 4 million people who have been forced to abandon Ukraine as a result of this conflict.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said when war begins war crimes follow. The Assembly must address the suffering of civilians. There has been great humanitarian suffering since Assembly last met on this issue. Civilians have borne the brunt of violations of international humanitarian law. These events also show a rejection of multilateralism. There are additional effects, after the pandemic, which are being felt around the globe, he said, emphasizing that the impact on a major agricultural producer will be severe and there will be a massive fallout in many areas, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. There must be an immediate cessation of hostilities. The Assembly has shown its ability to respond when the Charter is under threat. The Organization has extensive experience in humanitarian assistance and has set the ground rules for their delivery, he said, calling for those rules to be respected. Safe passage for those fleeing and those delivering humanitarian aid must be ensured, he stressed.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), aligning himself with the European Union, stated that indiscriminate shelling and the bombing of civilian targets and infrastructure constitute grave violations of international humanitarian law. There should be no impunity for any such violation, and he supported prosecuting the crime of aggression at the international and national levels. He also spotlighted the growing refugee crisis and the urgent need to establish humanitarian corridors; for its part, Slovenia will continue to assist Ukraine and refugees while also providing financial support to germane United Nations mechanisms. Pointing out that this situation is not just a humanitarian crisis for Ukraine and Europe but also for global food security, he stressed the need to bolster the mandates of United Nations entities tasked in this area. Further, Member States must support “L.2”, which “accurately reflects the situation on the ground” and calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities by the Russian Federation, for the protection of civilians and for respect for the Charter of the United Nations and international humanitarian law.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) recounted the story of Diego, a 20-year-old fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, who arrived in his country. Diego is among the 700 Ecuadorians who were evacuated from Ukraine on the country’s three humanitarian flights. He is a living witness that the “special military operation” is nothing other than a clear invasion of Ukraine in violation of the United Nations Charter. He said operative paragraph 6 of “L.2” demands that all parties protect civilians fleeing armed conflict and violence, including foreign nationals, notably students, without discrimination, to allow voluntary, safe and unhindered passage. He wondered how many times he heard that there would not be an invasion, urging an immediate cessation of the hostilities by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said the streets of Ukrainian cities are being used as a battlefield, while homes, hospitals and even nuclear power plants have become military targets. Many Ukrainians remain trapped and are desperate for safe passage. The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine is devastating, she said, stressing that the longer the aggression lasts, the deeper its impact in Ukraine and beyond its borders. She appealed to the Russian Federation to cease its hostilities against Ukraine. The protection of civilians is a fundamental obligation of the United Nations. Critical infrastructure such as water and electricity must be preserved, she said, noting that it must be protected against attacks waged by new technologies and cyberattacks. The humanitarian repercussions of this crisis are broad and include famine and food insecurity, particularly for those countries that cannot afford interruptions of their food supply. Places like Yemen and South Sudan are already on the brink of starvation and now face an even more devastating reality, she said.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), associating himself with the European Union, said that as Ukrainian people are killed and maimed, displaced and starved by the occupying Russian forces, “it is the minimum of decency and compassion with the victims to acknowledge their sufferings and to help the 10 million displaced and others in need,”. The conflict’s humanitarian consequences have effects beyond the borders of Europe, he added, pointing out the resolution’s recognition of that in addressing its impact on food insecurity. Calling upon States to support all efforts to establish accountability for crimes committed in Ukraine, he urged the Russian Federation to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice that it immediately suspend its military operation in that country.
MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia) said there is one reason and one reason alone for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine: the Russian Federation. It is an unprovoked, unjustified and illegal invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Improvement will not come from more money or more aide or greater access for non-governmental organizations, though those factors are all important. The most immediate improvement will come from the immediate withdrawal of Russian Federation forces from Ukrainian territory. “Any meaningful resolution on a humanitarian solution must call out the Russian Federation by name,” he said, stressing that the Russian Federation has to get out of Ukraine. He called on the Assembly to stand in absolute solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Australia is providing $65 million of life-saving assistance and working together with international partners. He called on the Russian Federation to meet its obligations under international law.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand), associating herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, said the scale of the crisis in Ukraine demands a strong and effective response from the General Assembly. United Nations humanitarian resolutions on Ukraine should clearly identify Russia’s invasion as the cause of the severe spike in humanitarian needs, she added, emphasizing that Moscow is violating international humanitarian law every day the conflict continues, with its accomplice, Belarus, sharing responsibility. Commending the relief efforts of international organizations and neighbouring countries and the quick responses of the United Nations system, she noted that her country has made an initial contribution of 6 million New Zealand dollars to the humanitarian response, with further contributions expected. Expressing concern that the crisis is stretching the global humanitarian system to its limit and diverting resources and attention from other crises, she stressed: “No country, big or small, with or without a veto, should be allowed to act with impunity when it violates the basic tenets of international humanitarian law.”
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), associating himself with the European Union statement, noted that the Russian Federation is a party to four Geneva Conventions and must respect its international obligations. It is most appropriate that the International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into the situation in Ukraine, he said, adding that impunity for crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction, including war crimes, is unacceptable. Welcoming the resolution’s adoption, he highlighted that people in his country have provided shelter for more than 270,000 refugees from Ukraine and around 215,000 of them have already been granted a special visa granting them access to health care, social protection, education and the labour market. The Czech Government also seeks to provide decent accommodation to refugees fleeing the aggression, he said, pointing out that it has recently approved additional in-kind humanitarian assistance in the total sum of CZK 300 million (approximately $13.5 million) in medical and other supplies to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said that, once again, the General Assembly is witnessing the “exploitation of human-rights issues to create a state of polarization and politicization used to serve the political interests of some”. Some States are mixing questions regarding the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with their hostile political position against the Russian Federation, and resuming this emergency special session to introduce a draft resolution without a vote in the Security Council demonstrates that these States are not genuinely interested in resolving the humanitarian issues in Ukraine. Rather, they seek to advance a hostile position against the Russian Federation by putting forward an “erroneous, one-dimensional view of reality”, he said. South Africa, on the other hand, was careful to present a draft resolution focused exclusively on the humanitarian situation, and he welcomed this constructive approach and called on all States to consider it objectively. He went on to stress that humanitarian operations must be implemented according to the principles of neutrality and non-discrimination, recalling his own country’s experience with politicized humanitarian assistance.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) said his delegation supported the 2 March Assembly resolution. It is time to implement the text now, he said, emphasizing the need to abide by obligations under international humanitarian law while calling for full urgent implementation of “the resolution we already adopted”. Saddened by the growing number of civilian casualties, he called on the Russian Federation to cease its military operations immediately. The unfolding humanitarian crisis must be stopped, he said, underscoring that the international community’s priority is to immediately cease hostilities. Commending the efforts of United Nations and ICRC, he called for safe, unhindered access for humanitarian workers.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said that since the Assembly met four weeks ago, Ukraine has fallen victim to a humanitarian catastrophe due to the Russian Federation’s unnecessary war of choice. More than 3.5 million refugees, including 1.5 million children, have fled Ukraine and more than 12 million people now require humanitarian assistance. Developing countries are paying a heavy price. A global food, energy and economic crisis is setting in, which, alongside COVID‑19, risks undermining decades of progress. Medieval siege tactics are being deployed in Mariupol, where innocent families have been without food, water or power for days. Noting that the United Kingdom has donated more than £400 million to help aid agencies respond to deteriorating humanitarian conditions, she urged Member States to focus on the actions needed to end the suffering. The only way to end the humanitarian crisis is for the Russian Federation to end its war. People are looking to the United Nations to defend international principles. “We can condemn the Russian invasion and enforce the founding principles upon which the United Nations was built,” she said, encouraging support for the resolution, which so far is backed by 86 co-sponsors across all regions. The United Kingdom will vote for the text and urges others to do the same.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that 10 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee and more than 3.5 million of them are now refugees in neighbouring countries. He commended the solidarity shown by European Member States in helping and sheltering them. The utmost priority is the immediate cessation of hostilities and full respect for international humanitarian law, he said, emphasizing that civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, must be protected and humanitarian access guaranteed. For three weeks, France and Mexico have staged discussions in good faith for a draft Security Council resolution demanding a cessation of hostilities and respect for international humanitarian law. Noting that this initiative has been transferred to the General Assembly, he said the draft resolution introduced by Ukraine is the fruit of a collaborative process. No one will emerge victorious from this war and only the end of the Russian Federation’s offensive will stop still more losses. The Russian Federation must denounce the use of force and respect the Charter of the United Nations, he stressed.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), paying tribute to former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, said that her story of fleeing the former Czechoslovakia and rising to a high position in the United States Government “echoed in my mind” as the General Assembly meets on Ukraine. One month after the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion of that country, the world need only look at the plight of those in Mariupol to understand the brutality that President Putin has inflicted. The Russian Federation’s actions there will be investigated thoroughly, and the world will know of Russian brutality in that city, alongside those of Aleppo and Grozny. Noting that her Government has recently assessed that members of the Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, she underscored that the world must “stand together in the face of unconscionable violence”. The resolution “L.2” is a response to this humanitarian catastrophe, and was negotiated by a diverse, cross-regional group of States. The text calls for the protection of all civilians, support to neighbouring countries that have opened their border to refugees and support to the United Nations and its humanitarian partners in their life-saving work. Abstention in the face of the Russian Federation’s atrocities is unacceptable, and that country must be held accountable for the humanitarian crisis it is creating. She went on to say that the text demands an end to this war, appealing to “the one person with the ability to stop the violence, and that person is Vladimir Putin”.
CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea), strongly condemning attacks against civilians and civilian objects, expressed particular concern about the millions of women and children on the move who have been exposed to the risks of violence, including gender-based violence, and human trafficking. Children, unaccompanied by or separated from their families, must be identified, protected, and provided with a safe place to stay, he emphasized, pointing to continued bombing and shelling in populated areas. Expressing deep concern over the conflict’s negative ripple effects on global food and energy security, he said the Republic of Korea has contributed $10 million for humanitarian assistance, including emergency medical items and equipment, as well as flexible funding in response to the United Nations-led appeal. Recalling the Korean War of the 1950s, he noted that children in Ukraine are enduring similar suffering today.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) said the Assembly faces a clear choice — that of unity in the face of a serious violation of international law and it must protect human life. Condemning the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms, she called on the former to immediately cease hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s territory. Switzerland has delivered more than 500 tons of aid to Ukraine and approved an additional 80 million Swiss francs for its humanitarian programme there and the region. She encouraged all initiatives that allow for the protection of civilians and persons “hors de combatas”, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid. Humanitarian pauses and humanitarian corridors must be well-planned, secured in a coordinated manner and agreed upon and implemented in detail between the parties. Calling for the protection of vulnerable people who are unable to leave the encircled towns by their own means, she expressed great concern over credible reports of the use of cluster munitions in populated areas. “Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited and constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” she insisted, stressing that the Geneva Conventions can be used to find common ground and dialogue. “Their respect is non-negotiable.”
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said the situation in and around Ukraine is a matter of serious concern and efforts towards a peaceful solution have not produced results to stop the fighting and provide humanitarian assistance. Civilians continue to bear much of the harm. There are increasing civilian casualties and increasing numbers of displaced people. As the situation continues to cause more human suffering, there must be strict respect for international humanitarian law to protect civilians and infrastructure. Unimpeded humanitarian assistance to all these in need and safe passage for those fleeing the fighting is also vital. Azerbaijan has made consistent steps to help the people of Ukraine and has provided $12.9 million in aid, he said. He called for the earliest possible settlement of the conflict through peaceful, diplomatic means with full compliance of international law. He also urged respect for sovereignty and the inviolability of borders and encouraged the parties to continue dialogue.
OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said his delegation co-sponsored “L.2” — along with more than 70 Member States — and expressed shock at the images of more than 3.2 million Ukrainians fleeing their country, forcibly displaced by the aggression of another State: a callous and atrocious conflict, reminiscent of images from the Second World War. Although Ukraine and Guatemala are geographically far apart, they are united by the values of humanity, solidarity and above all to unequivocally protect the dignity of people fleeing conflict and violence. Condemning all violations and abuses of human rights, he stressed “it is time to bring an end to this senseless conflict”, calling for a ceasefire — no more lives lost, civilians injured and mothers suffering the loss of their children and families. Calling for diplomacy to be prioritized to avoid an escalation of the conflict that might have even greater dire consequences at the global level, he reiterated the importance of seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis, with respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) said that despite intensive efforts made and repeated calls for an end to hostilities, the world continues to bear witness to the suffering of millions of people in Ukraine, including children. The General Assembly must guarantee safe, unhindered access for humanitarian workers. He urged diplomatic efforts to be intensified. His delegation decided to cosponsor “L.2” to address both the cause of the conflict and its terrible consequences. Member States should send out a message of unity, he said, urging a return to the path of respecting international law.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country is concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine. The conflict has already resulted in significant human cost, including loss of civilian life and damage to infrastructure. “The conflict needs to end, and it needs to end now,” he said, “and there is only one actor that can stop it, and that is the aggressor, the Russian Federation.” According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2.9 million children are in need of humanitarian aid. This is proof of a “living hell”. Ukraine needs the help of the international community, he said, noting he is shocked by reports that the Russian Federation deliberately strikes civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Last Friday, a gentleman who survived the Nazi Holocaust was killed in Ukraine when his apartment building was shelled, he said, noting that the Russian pretext of “denazification” could not be more hypocritical. He expressed his full support of all initiatives assisting Ukrainians fleeing their country and said they are welcome in Slovakia.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), aligning herself with the European Union, said that Ukraine is facing one of the world’s most protracted humanitarian crises and that respect for international humanitarian law is “our minimum duty as human beings in these dark moments”. Detailing the efforts of the Greek Consulates in Mariupol and Odessa to evacuate Greek diaspora as part of operation “Nostos” (homecoming), she said Greece has also delivered its first package of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Further, when things return to normal, the Government’s first action will be to rebuild the maternity hospital in Mariupol. It will also continue to be present in the region, one in which Greeks settled centuries ago. Expressing concern over reports of attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers and civilian facilities such as hospitals and schools, she underscored the urgent need to preserve and protect the humanitarian space. She went on to say that the international community’s struggle today is not only to secure urgently needed humanitarian assistance and save innocent lives, but also “to preserve our human side”.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said the need for humanitarian action in Ukraine is bringing the Assembly together today. A war without limits is unacceptable. Strict respect for international humanitarian law is necessary. There needs to be a distinction between civilian populations and military targets. Quick unimpeded access to combat areas must be provided. Humanitarian action should not be held hostage to any political or tactical gains, he said, stressing that Gabon will not allow any attempts to instrumentalize it and will make sure humanitarian efforts are in line with peoples’ needs. He paid tribute to the brave man and women working on the frontlines who are giving a ray of hope to people who are suffering.
MOHAMMED ABDULAZIZ H. ALATEEK (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, said its member States are committed to international law and the Charter of the United Nations, urging all parties to the conflict to respect the principles of good neighbourliness and non-interference in the affairs of other States. Calling for a return to negotiations and the immediate cessation of all hostilities, he noted the members of the Council have friendly relations with all parties. Civilians must be spared further suffering, with those involved upholding their responsibilities under international humanitarian law to provide assistance and avoid targeting any civilian institutions. Commending those who have provided convoys, he voiced hope that this is but one step in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
AMATLAIN ELIZABETH KABUA (Marshall Islands), associating herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, voiced support for the urgent need to address the increasingly dire humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, as the Assembly cannot afford to be silent or weak at a moment where the whole world demands its leadership. “We must speak, and speak as one, but also must act with conviction,” she emphasized. Should the Assembly fail to do so, it would be harming the global community, and particularly its relevance for small nations like hers. This is not a matter of moral equivalence, or simply an isolated dispute, she stressed, as the Assembly’s 2 March resolution has not been fully implemented, and the recent decision of the International Court of Justice has gone unheard. The grave humanitarian crisis cannot be effectively addressed without immediate cessation of hostilities by the Russian Federation, in particular attacks against civilians and civilian objects, further aggravated by the siege of cities, especially Mariupol. “These are not opinions, they are indisputable facts based on objective truth and evidence,” she stressed, with vital tenants of the Geneva Convention being violated. The multilateral wheels of accountability are already in motion — but accountability also extends to the vote today, also a clear expression of the Charter “and who among us has the courage to stand behind it,” she said. Noting her delegation cosponsored and will vote in favour “L.2”, she urged other nations to do likewise.
ZSUZSANNA HORVÁTH (Hungary), associating herself with the European Union, said that the resolution adopted on 2 March had already sent a strong message from the international community. It was adopted with overwhelming support. “L.2” should enjoy equal support. Her delegation supports this draft, she said, urging others to do the same. The war initiated by the Russian Federation turns 55 children into refugees every minute, she warned, urging Moscow to abide by international humanitarian law. Hungary is committed to assisting those fleeing the conflict. Its border crossings have been operating in full capacity and they are open without discrimination. Her country has rolled out a large-scale humanitarian assistance programme and stands by Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrality, she assured.
JEEM LIPPWE (Federated States of Micronesia), associating himself with the Pacific Islands Forum, said the war has only intensified since the emergency special session’s last meeting three weeks ago. Thanking Ukraine’s neighbours for stepping up to help the most vulnerable as they flee the fighting, he said even more must be done. Humanitarian corridors are essential to allow for aid to reach those most in need and to facilitate the departure of innocent civilians from hostilities, but their agreed terms are repeatedly violated by the aggressor. Against that backdrop, he expressed support for the draft resolution before the Assembly today, as the root cause of the conflict — and who is responsible — is clear. Urging the international community to rally behind the text, he said its adoption would not only be deeply appreciated as a humanitarian gesture but would also signal the broader resolve of the United Nations and its members.
CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay) said that the international community must act in light of the grave humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian Federation’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Safe paths for displaced persons should be provided so that the population can be evacuated from the zone of conflict, he said, condemning attacks against civilians and calling on all parties to observe international humanitarian law. There should be a focus on avoiding hunger and a lack of foodstuffs, he stressed, calling for the protection of critical assets used to provide essential services. He expressed his support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and specialized agencies to supply and distribute humanitarian aid and welcomed the appointment of a crisis coordinator for Ukraine. A lasting solution for the current humanitarian situation in Ukraine depends on the end of the armed conflict, he said, demanding a full cessation of hostilities by the Russian Federation.
GUILLERMO ROQUE FERNANDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia) said that the scene in Mariupol is one of extreme cruelty — an atrocity that no explanation can justify. Expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people, he condemned grave violations against the right to life and demanded protection for the civilian population. “There is no place here for indifference” at the suffering of millions of people, he stressed. He called for the emergency special session to appeal to the Russian Federation to end its aggression against a sovereign nation and to respect international humanitarian law and the principles of constructive dialogue, free negotiation and multilateralism — “the only weapons that should be used here”. Colombia knows the consequences of conflict and understands that negotiation and dialogue are the only way to build rather than destroy. Member States must unite to achieve immediate de-escalation of this war and avoid further human suffering. “We cannot allow civilians to be confused for combatants,” he added.
KARLITO NUNES (Timor-Leste) expressed deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine, noting that the conflict has had a particular impact on children and women, causing internal displacement and creating refugees. He called for a peaceful settlement of the conflict through diplomacy, dialogue and de-escalation of tension. Recognizing the importance of humanitarian contributions made by the international community, neighbouring countries and the United Nations in support of Ukraine’s people, he noted that his country has contributed $1.5 million through the World Food Programme in Timor-Leste to help address the food crisis there.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said the deteriorating humanitarian situation will escalate while there is no immediate cessation of hostilities. Pointing to the 3.5 million refugees and more than 1 million internally displaced persons created by the war, he said that it is inconceivable that 1.5 million children have had to flee their country in less than four weeks. In the face of such great need, Mexico and France introduced a humanitarian resolution in the Security Council. After two weeks of open consultations carried out in good faith, it because clear that an agreement would not be reached in the Council. With the genuine support of the Assembly’s members, who wanted to be part of a humanitarian response, the matter was brought to this organ, he said, noting that “L.2” has 88 co-sponsors. No one can doubt that the impact of the crisis will be global and affect everyone over the long-term. The humanitarian response must be commensurate with humanitarian needs, he said, stressing that humanitarian assistance cannot be held hostage to political situations and the principles of such assistance must be enforced. “L.2” is the outcome of a collective effort focused on the humanitarian aspect of the conflict and includes diverse views from the five regional groups of the United Nations. The spirit of the United Nations must be honoured. The Assembly’s humanitarian initiative is the least the Ukrainian people deserve.
DONAL KENNEALLY (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, reiterated Ireland’s condemnation of the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. “The Russian Federation has failed to respect the will of this Assembly,” he said, recalling the resolution adopted three weeks ago. Instead, the continued invasion of Ukraine has triggered a massive humanitarian crisis. The Security Council — primarily as the result of the anachronistic veto power — remains deadlocked and unable to act in response to that unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Welcoming the draft resolution before the Assembly in that context, he called on the Russian Federation to immediately end its invasion, withdraw its forces and to turn to the path of dialogue and diplomacy, “before any more of Ukraine’s people are forced to pay the terrible price of pitiless war”.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), associating herself with the European Union, said that schools and hospitals in Ukraine are bombed and women, children and the elderly are dying. Day by day, thousands of children arrive in Warsaw, Berlin and the Republic of Moldova. A generation is being scarred for life. Mariupol has been bombed into rubble, into a graveyard, she said. The General Assembly has condemned the Russian Federation’s violation of the Charter of the United Nations. The Russian Federation continues to attack without regard for international law or for the people of Ukraine. There is a text on the table that Member States from around the world have agreed with Ukraine, demanding full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law. Humanitarian efforts must be stepped up, she said, noting that Germany and the rest of the European Union will continue to shelter all those fleeing this war, regardless of their country of origin.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), aligning himself with the European Union, said the indiscriminate attacks on Ukraine’s population and civilian infrastructure must stop. Calling on the Russian Federation to fully comply with international humanitarian law, he stressed that the war in Ukraine has provoked one of the fastest growing refugee crises in Europe since the Second World War. Thanking Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Republic of Moldova for hosting and assisting those who fled, he said Portugal has received more than 20,000 refugees from Ukraine, who benefit from automatic access to health care and social security under a temporary protection system, as well as to housing and employment pools. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a United Nations Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, describing the draft resolution as a necessary step and fully justified, given the increasingly dire situation.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, stating that the conflict has security, political and economic impacts on countries in all parts of the world. Mediation, dialogue and negotiation are the most sustainable methods of resolving even the most intractable of divisions, and she welcomed rounds of negotiation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. She also urged all sides to uphold international law and the principle of State sovereignty and territorial integrity, including that of Ukraine. The immediate cessation of hostilities should be the first step towards ameliorating the humanitarian situation, and she further called for the fair treatment of nationals of all countries seeking to leave the conflict area.
Introducing “L.3”, she emphasized the need for the United Nations to adopt a resolution by consensus on the humanitarian situation affecting the people of Ukraine. That resolution must focus specifically on the humanitarian plight of the civilians affected and guarantee protection for objects indispensable to their survival. Further, humanitarian organizations must uphold the principles of neutrality and impartiality in their activities. “L.3” is an attempt to present a resolution that specifically addresses the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, devoid of other matters that would weaken the General Assembly’s unity on this issue. Stressing that the Assembly’s failure to garner consensus “would not bode well for humanitarian action and relief in Ukraine”, she said that, while the political and strategic issues pertaining to the conflict should be discussed, it should not be done in the context of a resolution addressing the humanitarian situation.
HOANG GIANG DANG (Viet Nam) said Viet Nam has consistently underscored respect for the Charter. All international disputes must be settled by peaceful means. The principles of sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity, and refraining from the use of force must be respected. Viet Nam understands first-hand the violence of war and its aftermath. It shares the great concerns of the international community about the conflict in Ukraine and the international humanitarian crisis. The wider repercussion of the situation in Ukraine for the region and the world at large could not be underestimated. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to exercise utmost restraint and immediately cease the use of force to prevent further casualties and losses, as called for by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers since 3 March. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected and secure humanitarian access provided. The best way to protect civilians is to end the conflict. The road to peace lies in continuing dialogue, he said, stressing the crucial need to end hostilities and find a long-term solution.
GHEORGHE LEUCĂ (Republic of Moldova), associating himself with the European Union, condemned in the strongest possible terms the unjustified war launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. “These hostilities are threatening the international architecture of rules and norms that we have been building and consolidating for over 75 years,” he said. Noting that some 370,000 Ukrainians and third-country nationals have so far fled the horrors of war and entered the Republic of Moldova, he said his country has never before experienced such a crisis. Despite already facing many other health and economic challenges, the country is working hard to mobilize assistance and to offer food, shelter and medicine to everyone in need. Against that backdrop, his delegation co-sponsored and will vote in favour of the resolution before the Assembly today, and once again calls for the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of peace in Ukraine.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) said that three days ago the High Commissioner for Refugees reported that the number of refugees and internally displaced persons is approaching 10 million. Of those, millions are children, older persons and persons with disabilities. She noted the suffering of those besieged in cities and the scars that will remain on the bodies of victims for the rest of their lives. In 1944, the world made a firm commitment to avoid war for forthcoming generations. This sacred mandate is not being respected, she said, stressing that there is no more room for violence. A lasting solution will only be reached by peaceful means, she said, calling for an immediate de-escalation of the conflict and for all parties to return to the negotiating table. For that to happen, there must be a ceasefire. She reiterated her condemnation of the Russian Federation for their invasion of Ukraine. It is vital that immediate and free access be given for effective humanitarian aid.
JOSÉ MANUEL RODRÍGUEZ CUADROS (Peru) called for the parties to immediately agree to a ceasefire and continue diplomatic negotiations to bring an end to the conflict. While the conflict continues, however, the parties must comply with their overwhelming obligations under international law to limit the suffering of the civilian population and ensure that their human rights are protected. “These are not goodwill recommendations, nor are they guidelines for desirable conduct,” he stressed; rather, they are obligations. International humanitarian law doesn’t ask questions about the motives leading to a conflict — its main objective is to relieve the human suffering caused by war. The United Nations has the mandate to protect all those affected by conflict, and the international community must also assist refugees and displaced persons — without discrimination of any kind. Detailing many of the obligations arising from international humanitarian law in the context of armed conflict, he also stressed that the international community “cannot foster the entrenchment of unyielding political positions”. A negotiated settlement that contemplates the interests of all parties is the only way to restore peace and end suffering, he said.
TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati), aligning himself with the Pacific Island Forum, said “because our Kiribati culture is deeply rooted in the sacredness and sanctity of every human person, we cannot help feeling sad and distressed and longing for meaningful ways to address the cries of innocent, helpless lives in Ukraine at this time.” When Kiribati joined the United Nations 23 years ago, it did so in the belief that as a small island, with no military or defence force, its future safety and security lied in the capable hands of the United Nations. The Organization is a place where all nations, large or small, rich or poor, powerful or powerless are treated equal under a supreme global law embodied by the Charter. He asked the five countries charged with ensuring that humanity does not suffer any wars to faithfully honour the sacred trust and duty given to them so all wars end and world peace is established for all nations and peoples now and in the future. The best support for the mounting humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is to co-sponsor and vote yes for the resolution before the Assembly and respectfully request all Member States to play their part however possible, materially and spiritually, to restore peace in Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the rest of the world.
ION JINGA (Romania), associating himself with the European Union, condemned the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine — including the consequent involvement of Belarus, all human rights violations, abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law thus — in the strongest terms. Describing the humanitarian situation as a disaster, he emphasized the need for an immediate end to attacks on civilians and for safe passage, jointly agreed by the parties, to allow the movement of refugees and the transport of much-needed medical assistance for those who choose to stay. “The continuing aggression against the civilian population and the humanitarian situation in Ukraine are simply unbearable, and this is the reason why this resolution must be adopted as a matter of urgency.” He went on to state that Romania has been fully mobilized and is committed to support Ukrainian civilians forced to flee, noting that more than 550,000 have already entered his country, with 4,300 asylum applications filed.
PAHALA RALLAGE SANATHANA SUGEESHWARA GUNARATNA (Sri Lanka), recalling that members of the Assembly “have pledged to treat each other with mutual respect”, said developing nations around the globe are undergoing severe economic stress as a result of a failure of the developed States to conduct their affairs with a duty of care. “If we look around us, we find a world atlas of chaos,” he said, adding that there appears to be no urgency to resolve issues that threaten the very existence of humankind. “It is therefore our plea that this Assembly pledges today to bring the temperature down,” he stressed, urging all combatants to cease their hostilities, de-escalate and return to the negotiating table with a view to ensuring mutual respect for each other. “Our nations cannot be used as the chessboard of international politics,” he stressed.
ANDREAS HADJICHRYSANTHOU (Cyprus), aligning himself with the European Union, said the international community has been shocked by the images of death and destruction coming out of Ukraine during the past four weeks. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 10 million people have either been displaced inside the country or fled as refugees following the Russian Federation’s invasion. He called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, unhindered access to humanitarian aid and safe passage for civilians, condemning the indiscriminate attacks against them and infrastructure and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. “The apocalyptic images from Mariupol, one of the most historic cities in Ukraine that now lies in ruins, are just devastating,” he stated. Cypriots — a third of them still displaced themselves — have displayed solidarity, contributing to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund and sending the largest-ever shipment of aid to the country. Cyprus has also welcomed more than 6,000 Ukrainian refugees. Reiterating support for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, he condemned “this senseless war” and called upon all Member States to support “L.2”.
ELISENDA VIVES BALMAÑA (Andorra), aligning herself with the European Union, expressed deep concern over the rapid deterioration of the situation in Ukraine. More than 3.5 million people have fled the country. Andorra is alarmed by the attacks against civilians, hospitals and schools. There must be respect for humanitarian law. Civilian populations, hospitals and schools should never be targeted during hostilities. Andorra welcomes the courageous work of humanitarian workers on the ground, which must be recognized and protected. Andorra is a co-sponsor of “L.2” and will vote in favour of the draft. The implications of the conflict will affect the global economy and food security and the lives of many people. The consequences will linger not only in the lives of millions of Ukrainians but also in their memory. Moreover, the effects on international law are indisputable, she said, reiterating her country’s call for respect for international law and the Charter of the United Nations. The decision of the International Court of Justice, which calls for the immediate suspension of military operations in Ukraine, is legally binding and must be respected. Andorra appeals for a ceasefire and expresses solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
BRIAN CHRISTOPHER MANLEY WALLACE (Jamaica) said that the humanitarian crisis is a direct consequence of the invasion by the Russian Federation. The military action by that country violates the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. He joined the call for the parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in order for humanitarian assistance to be rendered to the population. The preservation of a global rules-based multilateral system is imperative, especially for small States like Jamaica. This system cannot be threatened, he said, stressing that the global community must demand the immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to dialogue and diplomacy. The humanitarian relief effort must be supported so that the necessary assistance can be provided to the civilian population as quickly as possible.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta), aligning himself with the European Union, said that unprovoked, unjustified Russian aggression has led to the loss of civilian lives — including women and children — along with needless suffering and psychological trauma that will last for years to come. In Mariupol, the situation is devastating, as relentless Russian strikes have turned the city into ash and rubble in a matter of weeks. He called on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its hostilities and pursue a negotiated solution. Stressing that the principles of international humanitarian law are non-negotiable and “cannot be revoked through the use of force”, he called for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need. Blocking such delivery is unacceptable. He further called on Member States to vote in favour of “L.2”, pointing out that such a vote is one in favour of the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law and the sovereignty, territorial integrity and people of Ukraine.