Security Council vote sets up emergency UN General Assembly session on Ukraine crisis |
The measure convening the General Assembly session passed by a vote of 11 in favour, with Russia voting against, and China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining.
Today’s emergency request from the Assembly comes after Russia on Friday vetoed a US-led Security Council draft resolution that would have “deplored in the strongest terms the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine”.
As the text is procedural, none of the five permanent members of the Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – could use their right of veto. The measure only needed nine favorable votes to pass.
unite for peace
Only 10 such emergency special sessions of the General Assembly have been convened since 1950, following the adoption of resolution 377A(V), widely known as “uniting for peace”.
This text gives the Assembly the power to take up questions of international peace and security when the Security Council is unable to act because of the lack of unanimity among its five permanent members with the power of veto.
© UNICEF/Viktor Moskaliuk
Following country statements during the emergency special session, the General Assembly is expected to vote on a resolution similar to the one taken by the Security Council on Friday. Although Assembly resolutions are not binding, they are considered to have political weight because they express the will of all UN members.
Latest Security Council moves to end Ukraine crisis cap a week of activity at the United Nations seeking diplomatic impetus for Russian military action in the country, including press briefings near-daily reports from the Secretary-General, four emergency sessions of the Council and an earlier meeting of the General Assembly, which saw speaker after speaker calling for de-escalation.
On Saturday, amid reports of casualties and people fleeing their homes to seek refuge as Russian military operations in the country intensified, the Secretary-General announced that the UN would launch an appeal to fund its humanitarian operations in Ukraine.
A statement issued by a UN spokesperson said UN chief António Guterres had spoken by phone with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and conveyed “the UN’s determination to step up aid humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people”.
The Secretary-General’s phone call and announcement of a humanitarian appeal followed his earlier decision to release $20 million from the United Nations emergency relief fund, known as CERF, to meet urgent needs. in Ukraine.
In addition, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Amin Awad as the United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine to lead the coordination of all UN efforts, including its humanitarian response, on both sides. of the contact line.
© UNICEF/Viktor Moskaliuk
Responsibility for a “war of choice”
Speaking after the vote, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States, one of the countries that had requested the meeting, said the Security Council today took an important step to hold Russia responsible for its aggression against Ukraine.
“By convening an emergency special session of the General Assembly… [we] recognized that this is no ordinary time and that we must take extraordinary measures to deal with this threat to our international system,” she said, noting that such a meeting of all members of the UN was important to make their voices heard on “Russia’s war of choice.”
While noting that all UN member states would have the opportunity to participate in the emergency special session, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said she understood that it would take courage for some.
But for inspiration and strength, they could look no further than the people of Ukraine, “who stand courageously…to defend democracy, while continuing to express their willingness to participate in the negotiations.” So let’s do everything we can to help the Ukrainian people defend themselves, their sovereign country and their children.
Albania’s Ambassador Ferit Hoxha, who also convened today’s meeting, said that while the vote was purely procedural, the text itself had “historic proportions.” Whoever would open the ‘big doors’ of the General Assembly, the place where everyone comes together” and countries could speak out against unprovoked war and in favor of the Charter of the United Nations, “including citizens Russians who need to listen to the world and listen to what it says.
“All member states, including small ones like mine, must remember that the UN Charter is our best friend, our best army and our best defence,” he said. Russia could come to its senses at any time, stop the war, withdraw its troops and “resume the talks – real talks for peace, not for surrender and capitulation. But that requires lucidity, courage and wisdom, not threats of the apocalypse.
“As we said last Friday, now is not the time to sit idle or look away. It is time to stand up. Ukraine and Ukrainians are resisting,” he concluded.
French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said Russia was “alone” on Friday in blocking a resolution that would have called for an end to its aggression. “This [Assembly] special session is a necessary new step aimed at upholding the UN Charter and international law and ending the aggression against Ukraine,” he said.
He noted that President Emmanuel Macron had convened a new Security Council meeting on Monday in which France and Mexico would submit a resolution to demand an end to hostilities, the protection of civilians, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for meet the urgent needs of the population. population. The international community has a duty to uphold unity and the rule of international law, he said.
The Council’s inability to face the truth
Vasily Nebenzya, Ambassador of the Russian Federation, said he voted against the resolution because its sponsors would find that the Security Council had failed to fulfill its primary duty to maintain peace and international security.
“Yet, at the same time, we have not seen the slightest attempt to find a constructive solution within the Council. After all, two days ago we blocked a text for the simple reason that it was one-sided and unbalanced. We haven’t seen any new initiatives,” he said.
He also denounced the attempts of the sponsors of the project to use their position in the Security Council to pass decisions against other members. “That is why the Council provides the right to block decisions for permanent members. It is not a privilege, but a tool to ensure the balance of interests so necessary for the whole world, and through it, global stability.
“Now we must focus on resolving the roots of the crisis we are grappling with,” he continued, stressing that this was not about the launch of the “special military operation”, but because the Council had for eight years turned a blind eye to the actions of Ukrainian nationalists in the Donbass.
He said an “information war” was now unleashed against Russia and social media was full of lies about what was happening in Ukraine. “I urge our colleagues not to help spread such misinformation, although I fear these calls will no longer be heard.”
Air raids, assaults and “absurd claims”
Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya expressed his gratitude to those who had supported the request for an emergency extraordinary session of the Assembly. For those who had not backed the request, including Russia, he said they should know that the most frequently heard warning in Ukraine today was “Beware.” Air raids. Please make your way to the shelters.
He also asked those who did not support the text to please watch the videos and photos of the damage circulating in the media. The truth about what was happening on the ground due to Russian aggression could be found there.
He went on to say that Ukraine had issued an order to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to undertake interim measures against Russia and requested an emergency hearing. The Court had jurisdiction to hear the case, due to international obligations arising from the Convention for the Prevention of Genocide.
“The Genocide Convention is one of the most important international treaties, written in response to the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. Russia, however, has distorted the concept of genocide and perverted the solemn treaty obligation to prevent and punish genocide,” the ambassador explained.
He went on to note that Russia had made an “absurd and baseless allegation” of alleged genocide as a justification and pretext for its own aggression against Ukraine and violation of the sovereignty and human rights of the Ukrainian people. “Ukraine’s case before the ICJ will establish that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is based on a lie and a flagrant violation of international law and must be stopped,” he said.