Ukraine in the UN Security Council 2016-2017

Ukraine has been a member of the UN Security Council, which according to the UN Charter bears the primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security, four times: in 1948-1949, 1984-1985, 2000-2001, 2016-2017. Twice as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and twice as an independent state.

In 2015, 177 member-states voted in favor of Ukraine’s election to the Security Council, which reflects a high level of confidence of the international community in our state’s ability to make a tangible contribution in maintenance of international peace and security.

Ukraine’s membership in the Council in 2016-2017 coincided with the period of an ongoing military aggression of the Russian Federation, which is one of the Council permanent members. Thus, it could not but influence the work of the Ukrainian delegation, whose primary priority has always been and remains protection of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state. Respectively, as an elected Council member Ukraine used all available tools to counter the Russian aggression, in particular by ensuring the Council’s timely response to potential escalations of the political-security situation in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and along the contact line.

Moreover, the Ukrainian delegation has been consistently raising various aspects of the Russian aggression against Ukraine (protection of civilians, protection of human rights, protection of rights of children, terrorist activities, the issue of internally displaced persons, use of mines and explosive devices in violation of norms of international law etc.) in its interventions and statements in the Security Council. Particular attention was paid to refuting misleading and false statements of the Russian Federation. On a yearly basis informal Arria formula meetings were convened to consider the issue of violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea.

At the same time, the Ukrainian delegation was actively engaged in the work on all the issues on the Council agenda with more than 540 formal and 315 informal meetings on over 50 agenda items held over a two-year period. We submitted our ideas and proposals into more than 130 Security Council resolutions and more than 40 Presidential statements.

Ukraine’s representative also chaired three subsidiary organs of the Council – the 1521 Committee on Liberia, the 1591 Committee on Sudan and the 2127 Committee on the Central African Republic.

Moreover, in February 2017 during Ukraine’s presidency of the Council ministerial level open debates were held on the issue of conflicts in Europe. Also at the initiative of the Ukrainian delegation the first ever Security Council resolution was adopted on the protection of critical infrastructure against terrorist acts (resolution 2341). In March 2017, Ukraine organized as well an Arria formula meeting on “Hybrid War as a Threat to International Peace and Security”. In the following April an unofficial Council meeting was held on “Security Implications of Climate Change: Sea-Level Rise”.

Overall, particular attention was paid to the following tracks:

· countering Russian aggression against territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine;

· promoting universal implementation of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter;

· strengthening UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding potential

· improving transparency and democratic nature of the work of the UN Security Council;

· boosting UN conflict prevention and mediation capacities;

· strengthening peace on the African continent;

· combating terrorism;

· supporting disarmament and nonproliferation;

· taking forward agenda on Women, Peace and Security, as well as Children in Armed Conflicts;

· addressing environmental challenges.

Even though more than 40 thematic meetings on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict have been held by the Security Council, the veto right of the Russian Federation has been a determining factor in the Council’s inability to adopt substantive decisions that could contribute to stopping the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The Council was able to adopt only two decisions: resolution 2166 from 21 April 2014 with condemnation of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 and resolution 2202 from 17 February 2015 in support of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”.

Due to the Russian veto, the Council failed to adopt the following important documents:

- draft resolution S/2014/189 (March 2014), which was directed at reconfirmation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and nonrecognition of the pseudo-referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (13 member-states voted in favor, 1 (China) - abstained, 1 (Russia) – voted against);

- draft resolution S/2015/562 (July 2015) on establishment of the international criminal tribunal for investigation of the downing of the flight MH-17 (11 member-states voted in favor, 3 (China, Angola and Venezuela) – abstained, 1 (Russia) voted against).

Equally, due to Russia’s intransigence the matter of deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine remains unresolved.

It all points to the need of implementing a radical reform of the UN Security Council, one of the elements of which must be amending the veto rights of the Council permanent members.

Ukraine views the Council reform as a matter of exceptional international importance, which is crucial for an overall success of the UN general reform. We are open to consideration of all progressive and forward-looking proposals and approached to the reform process.

Our position’s main element remains unchanged: any increase in the number of elected members must foresee an expanded representation of the Eastern European Group through provision of at least one more seat of a non-permanent member.

Ukraine also advocates a gradual phasing out of the veto right and supports the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council Action against Genocide, Crimes against Humanity or War Crimes prepared by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group. We also co-signed the Political Statement on the Suspension of the Veto in Case of Mass Atrocities) that was drafted at the joint initiative of France and Mexico.

In the framework of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform the Ukrainian delegation consistently promotes the idea of limiting the veto right of permanent members in cases, when the Council considers a situation in which a permanent member is one of the parties in a conflict.