Ukraine - Security Council, 9002nd meeting

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23-Mar-2022 01:01:35
Security Council fails to adopt text demanding civilian protection, unhindered humanitarian access in Ukraine, as 13 members abstain.

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2 Vote in Favour, None against, with Delegates Denouncing Draft as Attempt by Moscow to Justify Aggression against Neighbour

The Security Council failed today to adopt a draft resolution that would have demanded civilian protection in Ukraine and called for unhindered access for humanitarian assistance, as several delegates rejected the text as an attempt by the Russian Federation to justify its aggression against its neighbour.

Tabled by the Russian Federation, the draft was defeated by a vote of 2 in favour (China, Russian Federation) to none against, with 13 abstentions. It was the Council’s third vote since 24 February (See Press Releases SC/14808 and SC/14809) and would have needed nine votes in favour with no veto to pass. Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria joined the Russian Federation in submitting the text.

By its terms, the Council would have demanded that civilians are fully protected, that all parties ensure respect for and protection of all medical and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in their medical duties; that they respect international law in connection with objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population; and allow safe and unhindered passage to destinations outside Ukraine, including for foreign nationals, without discrimination.

After the vote, the Russian Federation’s delegate said the action exposed all those for whom politicization of the humanitarian dossier is more important than delivering aid to vulnerable people. The absence of a resolution will only complicate the lives of humanitarians on the ground and allow Kyiv to ignore calls for a ceasefire, he argued. “Kyiv will continue to use civilians as human shields and to deploy heavy weaponry near hospitals and kindergartens,” he cautioned, adding that the Russian Federation will attempt to resolve humanitarian issues, as it has done in Donbass, “whose suffering you prefer to forget”.

However, several delegates denounced the draft as an attempt to hide a brutal campaign of aggression.

The representative of the United States described as “unconscionable” the Russian Federation’s attempt to submit a draft requesting that the international community resolve a humanitarian crisis that it alone created. “To state the obvious, Russia does not care about the deteriorating humanitarian conditions and the millions of lives and dreams the war has shattered,” she emphasized, in explanation of her delegation’s abstention. She denounced the Russian Federation’s attempt to make the Council complicit in its “flimsy fabrications”, pointing out that the draft makes no mention of its role as the sole cause of the crisis.

France’s representative agreed, declaring: “This manoeuvre is not fooling anyone.” Recalling that his country and Mexico negotiated a humanitarian draft in good faith, he said they then decided to take it to the General Assembly, given the Russian Federation’s obstruction.

Mexico’s delegate added that, after that was announced on 14 March, “strangely enough”, the Russian Federation decided to present an alternative text. He explained that his delegation abstained today because the draft attempts to change the meaning of certain paragraphs negotiated by the delegations of Mexico and France. It also lacks references to Article 2.4 of the Charter of the United Nations — on the prohibition or threat of use of force on a State’s territorial integrity or political independence — and to an unequivocal cessation of hostilities.

China’s delegate explained that his delegation’s support for the draft was based on its call for the international community to attach high importance to the humanitarian situation, and for the parties to coordinate on protecting civilians. He urged the parties to focus on the humanitarian issue, transcend political differences and do their best to seek consensus.

At the meeting’s outset, the Council observed a moment of silence in memory of Madeleine K. Albright, former Secretary of State of the United States, who died today.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Albania, Ghana, Mexico, Ireland, Norway, Brazil, Gabon and the United Arab Emirates.

The meeting began at 5:07 p.m. and ended at 6:01 p.m.
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