Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on a.i. 33(b) - Prevention of armed conflict: strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution "Territorial integrity of Ukraine"
(27 March 2014, New York)
Thank you for convening today's meeting. It is a great honour and privilege for me to address the General Assembly.
What brought us here today is an issue of paramount importance. Of crucial importance for my nation. Of vital importance for every UN Member State. Even more so - for the United Nations and the world order it embodies.
For a month now all possible and impossible boundaries of international law, so laboriously nourished by the mankind - especially by this institution- have been ruthlessly trampled.
What has happened in my country is a direct violation of the UN Charter.
Many still struggle to grasp the reality - it happened in Ukraine, in the very heart of Europe. It happened in the 21st century.
Over the last month we have witnessed the most flagrant violations of international law since the inception of the United Nations. After two weeks of military occupation an integral part of Ukraine has been forcibly annexed by a state that had previously committed itself to guarantee the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of my country in accordance with the Budapest Memorandum.
By a state which happens to be one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, entrusted by the UN membership with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
This aggression was meticulously calibrated to strike at the time when Ukraine was forming inclusive Government.
Now, despite all odds, such a Government is up and running.
It was also aimed and is still aiming to undermine Presidential elections in my country.
Let me assure you that Ukraine is determined to carry on with holding elections as scheduled on May 25,th.
Eight rounds of urgent discussions on the Russian military intervention in Ukraine held by the UN Security Council clearly demonstrated how isolated Russia is on this issue. The mixture of concocted justifications, half-truths, deliberate distortions, insults and naked lies offered by the Russian side failed to impress the Council.
Just a few days ago at the opening session of the third Nuclear Security Summit UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to build a culture of nuclear security. He rightly emphasized that the time has come to strengthen the rule of law in both disarmament and non-proliferation.
Speaking about the UN's efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, the Secretary-General pointed out that the assurances provided to non-nuclear-weapon States by nuclear-weapon States must be honored.
I quote: "In the case of Ukraine, security assurances were an essential condition for its accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, the credibility of the assurances given to Ukraine in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 has been seriously undermined by recent events. The implications are profound, both for regional security and the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime".
We cannot agree more.
Two years ago, when we proposed to the Russian side to sign a bilateral agreement on security and confidence building measures, it refused saying that the idea of an attack on Ukraine was absurd.
Six months ago, we were preparing to have a trilateral meeting in the Hague between the leaders of Ukraine, USA and Russia to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ukraine's nuclear-free success story.
Yet this plan has been crushed almost overnight by the Russian aggression against Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.
"We have consistently called for the recognition of a polycentric world order, equal and indivisible security in full conformity with the UN Charter basic principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity of any State, inadmissibility of intervention in the domestic affairs ...". A just and democratic world order cannot be achieved without a strict observance of the principles of the supremacy of international law, mainly of the UN Charter...".
You may think this is part of my statement. It is not. Actually, it is an excerpt from the Position of the Russian Federation for the 68th General Assembly.
"It has become a popular idea of late that the threat of power or its use, which are directly forbidden by the UN Charter, are almost the most effective method to solve international problems, including settlement of internal conflicts in countries... And this despite the fact that the experience of forceful intervention demonstrated its ineffectiveness, senselessness and harmfulness. This is an extremely dangerous path, leading to the eruption of the foundations of modern world order, and the disruption of regimes of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction".
This paragraph also does not belong to Ukraine, though we fully share its thrust. It is taken from the speech by my colleague Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the general debate last September.
There are volumes of such statements made by the Russian Federation at the United Nations.
"Practice what you preach" - one might think.
We, in Ukraine do.
As does the African Union, whose Constitutive Act of 2001 in Article 4 calls for the sovereign equality and interdependence among Member States of the Union, respect of borders and prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force among Member States of the Union, as well as for non-interference by any Member State in the internal affairs of another.
As does the Organization of American States, whose Charter clearly states that the territory of a State shall not be the object of acquisition by another State resulting from the threat or use of force.
As does the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with its Charter renouncing aggression or other actions in any manner inconsistent with international law.
As does the European Union.
As does the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with its 1975 Helsinki Final Act.
This list goes on and on.
Even against all wrongs inflicted on my country over the last month, it is strictly in the vein of upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter that the resolution before you today has been drafted.
The purpose of this document is to reinforce core United Nations principles at a moment when they are experiencing a major challenge.
This text is all about respect for territorial integrity and non-use of force to settle disputes. It does not break any new legal or normative ground.
Yet it sends an essential message that the international community will not allow what has happened in Crimea to set a precedent for further challenges to our rules-based international framework.
It clearly serves a de-escalatory purpose and explicitly welcomes international efforts, including those by the UN Secretary-General, to support a peaceful settlement of the situation with respect to Ukraine.
I am convinced that a strong vote today will help deter further aggressive moves in Ukraine or elsewhere.
I sincerely thank all cosponsors of the draft resolution "Territorial Integrity of Ukraine" and look forward to its adoption by the General Assembly.
One month has cost us dearly. More inaction may cost us this Organization.
By voting in favor of this resolution you vote in favor of the UN Charter.
While voting against or abstaining equals undermining it.
I thank you.
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