Statement by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine H.E. Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya at the 11th emergency special session of the UN General Assembly (10 October 2022)

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine H.E. Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya  at the 11th emergency special session of the UN General Assembly (10 October 2022)

Mr. President,

Let me start with a quote from José Serrato, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, at the sixth plenary meeting of the UN Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, on May 1, 1945. [I quote] “A stable and sane peace cannot be attained if nothing is done for the democratization of the world and the rule of freedom. … Peace and democracy constitute complimentary objectives, each of which is a guarantee and a motive for the either… In this regard in the proposed International Organization there should not be admitted nations professing doctrines of aggression and war, which are inclined to undermine or destroy the order of juridical peace in the world. However, in order to be a member of international society, it is not enough to present the titles of "peace-loving nations", but it is also necessary to be a freedom-loving nation.” [End of quote]

That is how our predecessors saw the way to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war at the dawn of our Organization 77 years ago.

Unfortunately, you can hardly hope for a stable and sane peace as long as an unstable and insane dictatorship exists in your vicinity. A dictatorship that actively uses missile terror against the civilian population and infrastructure of another state. Today, terrorist russia shelled the capital city of Kyiv and many other Ukrainian cities throughout the country with at least 84 missiles and two dozen UAVs.

Energy facilities, residential buildings, schools and universities, museums and crossroads in the city centers were among the targets that the russian defense ministry later declared legitimate. The entire world has once again seen the true face of the terrorist state that kills our people. Suffering defeats on the battlefield, russia takes it out on the peaceful residents of Ukrainian cities. Today’s strike killed at least 11 civilians and 87 were wounded.

Deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime. By launching missile attacks on civilians sleeping in their homes or rushing to work, children going to schools, russia has proven once again that it is a terrorist state that must be deterred in the strongest possible ways.

We need this to prevent further heinous atrocities and to secure our achievements within this Organization.

The UN has survived many challenges, including block confrontation and Soviet threats, in this very Hall, addressed to the world, to the UN and its Secretary-Generals. As King Hussein of Jordan said in 1960 [and I quote] “Yet almost from birth Soviet Union has sought to destroy UN, to hamper its deliberations, to block its decisions … to demean the reputation of the Security Council and the General Assembly”.

I sign under each of these words in 2022. What we are witnessing now is an attempt by Russia to revive the so-called Brezhnev doctrine envisaging that the Soviet Union could limit the principle of prohibition of the use of force if its interests in other states within the so-called “zone of influence” were challenged. Incompatibility of this doctrine with the UN Charter was clear even for the Soviet Union itself and at the end of the day the USSR had to officially give it up.

[I quote] “It is evident, for example, that force and the threat of force can no longer be, and should not be instruments of foreign policy”, said the then Soviet President in this very Hall in December 1988. These words however mean nothing for modern russia, who is occupying the USSR permanent seat at the Security Council and thus is allowed to block any action by the Council to restore international peace and security.

Mr. President,

Russia now tries its best to bring us back to the 1930s, when Hitler destroyed sovereign nations by invasion, fake referenda and Anschluss. And we are now at a tipping point where the UN will either restore its credibility or it will ultimately fall in failure. And if the latter happens, we should blame nobody but ourselves. Because it’s our responsibility to defend the principles of the UN Charter. A trail of blood is left behind the Russian delegation when it enters the General Assembly; and the hall is filled up with the smell of smoldering human flesh.

That’s what we have tolerated too long in Syria, that’s what is happening today in Ukraine. Same dictator in the Kremlin, same Russian generals well-known for scorched-earth tactics in wars led in Syria and Chechnya, and today in Ukraine. Since 23 September russia has been committing another crime against international law and its principles.

Committing it in an attempt to revive the world of the past, where sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders were a privilege with limited access not the right of every nation. The sham referenda in four Ukrainian regions followed by unlawful decisions by the russian president and parliament served this very purpose and thus pose an existential threat to the United Nations and its Charter. Ukrainians can tell you what our world will look like if this erosion of the UN’s credibility is not stopped. If complete disregard for the UN Charter by a country occupying a permanent seat in the Security Council meets any response but zero-tolerance.

Death, human suffering and destruction are immediate outcomes. As it was in the city of Zaporizhzhia on the night of 9 October when russia fired over 20 missiles on residential areas which killed at least 13 and injured 60 civilians, including 6 children. And let me remind you that Zaporizhzhia is the main city of one of the four regions that russia has claimed following the sham referenda. Moscow has even included the reference to Zaporizhzhia in its constitution.

Please forgive my use of the term “constitution” in relation to that worthless piece of paper. It is indeed hard, if not impossible, for a normal human being to comprehend the logic of putin and his cronies. First, you claim the seizure of an area of a neighboring sovereign state under the pretext of “protection of local population” and then you kill this population with dozens of missiles. It is clear, however, that the so-called sham referenda served as an element of the russian aggression against Ukraine.

An element that was hastily prepared and implemented in response to the successful process of liberation of the occupied Ukrainian territories in the east and the south of the country. The so-called referenda bore no relation at all with what we are used to calling “expression of the popular will”. Neither from the legal perspective, nor from that of technical modalities. We are grateful to the Secretary-General, who was very clear and explicit in his condemnation of the russian actions. As he said [and I quote] “Any decision to proceed with the annexation would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned. It cannot be reconciled with the international legal framework.

It stands against everything the international community is meant to stand for. It flouts the Purposes and Principles of the UN. It must not be accepted”.[end of quote] Distinguished colleagues, Ukraine is the immediate target of the russian attacks on the ground but it’s not Ukraine that russia ultimately aims at.

Let me reiterate it again, it is our future that is now at stake. The future that can not be secured by separate countries or regional arrangements if the United Nations is relegated to the backstage of global processes. Let me recall that the very first purpose of this Organization, which is enshrined in Article 1 of its Charter, is “to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression”.

Paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the Charter constitutes the most important principle with regards to the abovementioned purpose, in particular we are speaking about the threat and use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Violation of paragraph 4 of Article 2 of the Charter is a violation of the cornerstone of the peace in the Charter, the heart of the Charter, and even basic rule of contemporary international law, as it has been labeled in legal writings.

Dear colleagues,

The only thing that Russia is afraid of is our strong unity of purpose in defense of the UN Charter, in defense of the right of every country to benefit from respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have to save the United Nations. Not for the sake of this Hall, high-level weeks and other procedural and protocol issues that have been our routine since 1945.

We need to do it for the sake of ourselves as most of us will find ourselves extremely vulnerable and unprotected if the russian vision of the future prevails. A future where only nuclear power, size of the armed forces and number of warships and aircraft matter. How many of you would feel safe and secure in such a world? How many of you would deprive your children of the right to freely decide their own future?

The answer seems obvious and we have to rally around the UN Charter and to reconfirm that its principles remain a strong shield to protect all nations, large and small, members of alliances and neutral ones, on all continents. That was the spirit of our common commitment to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

The spirit that guided our predecessors in San Francisco 77 years ago. The same spirit should guide us now, in particular during the vote on the draft resolution “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine: Defending the Principles of the UN Charter”.

As I started my intervention with a quote from Uruguay, and to illustrate what unites us all, even if countries are 10,000 km apart, let me finish with a quote from the French Foreign Minister, Georges Bidault, at the Conference in San Francisco, “Justice is another word we must reinstate in all its loftiness - justice in keeping with international democracy, … justice which gives full recognition to the rights of all countries, including those which do not come under the generally recognized term of great powers - a point I would particularly stress.” [End of quote]

It will be a vote for the UN Charter, for each country, for each of our citizens, for justice and I urge you to support this draft!