Виступ Постійного представника України при ООН Сергія Кислиці під час представлення проєкту резолюції щодо компенсації за збитки у зв'язку з агресією проти України

Виступ Постійного представника України при ООН Сергія Кислиці під час представлення проєкту резолюції щодо компенсації за збитки у зв'язку з агресією проти України

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Mr. President,

“What has been, will be again, what has been done will be done again, there’s nothing new under the sun”, is written in one ancient script. [Ec. 1:9]

It is true, isn’t it, that we have seen all this before?

A country choosing to invade another.

Bringing death and destruction.

Impacting millions of people.

Undermining the very core of international security.

The world fighting back and holding the perpetrators accountable.

We have indeed seen this before.

Let me quote from one official -

“Large territory of [our country] was occupied by the enemy that destroyed entire cities and villages, turned into ruins enterprises, power plants, railways. That is why we believe it to be a moral right of countries that were subjected to occupation, to receive compensation”.

This quote does not belong to a Ukrainian, neither is it recent.

This statement belongs to tovarishch Vyacheslav Molotov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.

It is striking how closely this statement describes what Ukraine is facing today.

Large territory of a sovereign state under enemy occupation.

Entire cities and villages destroyed.

Enterprises turned into ruins.

Power plants destroyed.

Of course, no material loss compares to the death and suffering of the people in Ukraine.

Seventy-seven years ago the Soviet Union demanded and received reparations, calling it a moral right of a country that has suffered war and occupation.

Today, Russia, who claims to be the successor of the 20th century’s tyranny,

is doing everything it can to avoid paying the price for its own war and occupation, trying to escape accountability for the crimes it is committing.

Russia will fail, just like it is failing on the battlefield.

We have indeed seen all this before. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Thirty-two years ago Russians once again clearly stated their position on reparations when one state invaded and occupied another.

Responding to the consequences of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the UN Security Council adopted a series of resolutions, including Resolution 687 (1991), establishing a commission and a fund mandated to deal with any damage, loss or injury arising out of Iraq’s unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

Following his vote in favor of the resolution, Soviet Ambassador Vorontsov stated:

“The requirements of the resolution adopted are aimed not only at restoring justice but at issuing a serious warning to all those who might be inclined to embark on the path of aggression, occupation and annexation, [S/PV.2981, p. 101].

He also added:

“The adoption of this resolution provides the necessary conditions to restore normal economic relations in the region, the speedy elimination of the consequences of the ecological crisis, and compensation for the damage which has been caused to Kuwait and Its people” [S/PV.2981, p. 103].

Thus, with 14 votes and one measly abstention, the United Nations Compensation Commission was born.

A true success story,

UNCC completed its mandate in February this year, having paid out over 52 billion dollars in reparations to the victims of that war.

Russia has tried its best to destroy Ukraine – in a very literal sense.

From Day 1 of the full-scale invasion, Russia has been throwing bombs, missiles, shells of every kind at Ukrainian cities and villages, targeting everything from plants and factories to residential buildings, schools, hospitals and kindergartens.

We’ve all seen images from Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, Mariupol and Izyum.

Russia has been destroying Ukrainian roads, bridges and railways.

Russia has demolished almost half of Ukraine’s power grid and utilities in the past month alone, leaving millions of Ukrainians without power, running water and heating on the eve of winter.

Accounts of atrocities committed by Russians in the occupied territories – murder, rape, torture, forced deportation, looting – they all speak for themselves.

Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere.

Ukraine will have the daunting task of rebuilding the country and recovering from this war.

But that recovery will never be complete without a sense of justice for the victims of the Russian war.

It is time to hold Russia accountable.

We have seen all this in this very chamber. What has been done, we ask to be done again.

We’ve seen the UN General Assembly pass, by consensus, a resolution adopting the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law (A/RES/60/147). Let me quote,

“Adequate, effective and prompt reparation is intended to promote justice by redressing gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law.” [Article 15]

We have seen the UN General Assembly adopt, by consensus, a resolution commending “Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts” that stipulates that

“The responsible State is under an obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by the internationally wrongful act.” [Article 31]

We have indeed seen it all. We are not asking for something we’ve not seen before.

We are meeting here today, in the setting of the 11th Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly, within the “Uniting for Peace” framework designed for instances just like this when a country like Russia abuses its veto power. A veto power that came with the seat it’s illegally occupying of the Soviet Union in the Security Council.

Russia prefers impunity to accountability, and when it comes to the process at the Security Council, it only knows two things – lies and veto.

And yet, we will hear from Russia very soon that the General Assembly is not competent to address a matter like this.

It will be yet another lie,

yet another attempt to diminish and subvert this body of the United Nations.

Yet another attempt to tell you that you don’t matter.

And that, yet again, will be nothing new.

I have recently recalled the words of King Hussain of Jordan pronounced from this very rostrum in 1960. Let me quote,

“It is needless to affirm that the United Nations presents the only hope of peace and freedom to humanity. This is of major significance to all the small nations of the world, yet almost from birth, the Soviet Union has sought to destroy the United Nations, to hamper its deliberations, to block its decisions and, by rowdy tactics and petulant walkouts, to demean the reputation of the Security Council and the General Assembly”. END OF QUOTE

This is exactly what Russia is doing now.

Having blocked the Security Council, the Soviet successors are trying to quiet the General Assembly.

The UN should no longer tolerate this.

Right now there is yet another opportunity to send a clear signal to Russia and anyone else who ever considers using force to redraw internationally recognized borders.

Russians and their cohorts will try to make you believe that by this vote we are dividing the world into blocks and bringing it back to the times of the Cold War.

They will claim that we ask the Member States to take sides in the conflict.

We in no way ask you to pick sides today – we are confident that you are all on the side of the UN Charter, its purposes and principles, and on the side of international law.

Instead, it is the Russian Federation itself which, since its very appearance in the UN 31 years ago, has been perpetually committing acts of aggression against sovereign states.

It is the Russian federation which is threatening the mechanism of international security and undermining the fragile stability achieved after WW2.

In fact, it is Russia that is to be blamed for dividing the world.

The proposal in front of you today is a proclamation that Russia must be held accountable for its violations of international law in Ukraine.

It is a reaffirmation of the need for a concrete mechanism for reparations that will breathe life into this proclamation.

It is a call for the member states to come together and build legitimate international infrastructure to deal with the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine, record evidence of atrocities and preserve a hope for justice for millions of those whose lives have been changed forever by imperial, neo-colonial ambitions of a small ruler of a large country.

This proposal is not about Russia alone.

It will work for the benefit of all those who are being threatened now or might be threatened later by use of force.

Our response should be appropriate and should avert any aggressor from the temptation of starting a war. This is the issue we are resolving today.

Mr. President,

This proposal is built on the principles of multilateralism, as we call on all states that share the values of the UN Charter, to participate in further steps to establish the mechanism.

Ukraine is committed to a transparent, impartial and objective process that will be managed and overseen by the international community in order to avoid even the slightest perception of bias.

We have every intention of continuing to cooperate with the United Nations and its bodies in this process.

We greatly value and appreciate the invaluable work of the Secretary-General and the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the Human Rights Council.

We hope for cooperation with UNESCO and UNEP to help assess the damage to the historical and cultural heritage of Ukraine and its environment.

A vote against this proposal will be a vote in favor of impunity and lawlessness.

A “yes” vote will mean that there is faith in international law, that the global architecture so painstakingly built after the Second World War will remain,

and the United Nations can stand to watch over international peace and security.

It is a signal of hope for justice and an important first step towards accountability.

A step towards such wars never happening again.

Ukraine is seeking peace. The preconditions for any negotiations, outlined by President Zelensky, are clear:

restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, compensation for damage caused by the war, prosecution of war criminals.

This resolution will bring us closer to this goal. And we must take this leap forward without delay.

This session is an opportunity to reflect on this and decide in which world we want to live.

Thank you.