National Statement Delivered by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Ukraine
Statement11 February 2021
Thank you very much indeed Madam President and I want to say a special thank you to Under Secretary-General DiCarlo and to Ambassadors Grau and Çevik today for their helpful and informative briefings.
Madam President, this is the first opportunity we have had to address these issues since we joined the Council, so I want to underline from the outset that Ireland is a strong and consistent supporter of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The full implementation of the Minsk Peace Agreements, and the related conflict resolution efforts in the Normandy Format and Trilateral Contact Group, are important priorities for us.
A number of commitments made under the Minsk Agreements are still outstanding. We therefore call on the sides to fully implement the Minsk agreements and to honour their commitments in full. We commend the tireless efforts of Ambassadors Grau and Çevik in the Trilateral Contact Group. We see the July 2020 additional measures to strengthen the ceasefire as a welcome breakthrough that has actually led to an improvement in the security situation. However, it is clear from what we just heard from the briefers this morning that the ceasefire cannot be taken for granted.
The importance of establishing a functioning mechanism for investigating ceasefire violations cannot be overstated. A first positive step would be the Russian Federation’s return to the Joint Control and Coordination Commission.
After almost seven years of conflict, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine remains deeply concerning, with millions of people still requiring humanitarian assistance. Civilians, who were already suffering hardships, now compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a fragile economy, have seen their freedom of movement severely constrained due to what is almost the complete closure of crossing points at the line of contact. This includes individuals being cut off from family, jobs, healthcare and pensions, as well as thousands of people with pressing humanitarian needs who remain unable to cross that contact line. As is too often the case in conflict situations, we know that women are disproportionately affected by these restrictions and remale-headed households often lack access to social benefits and support. We must do more to support them.
We call for an end to the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and critical civilian infrastructure and for the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law. Furthermore, we urge action to address the issues of mines and unexploded ordnances.
Ireland is concerned that there are continued violations of Trilateral Contact Group agreements, including the recent building and extension of trenches and the presence of heavy weapons near residential areas in the region.
We are also very concerned by the reduction of access for humanitarian organisations themselves to the non-government controlled areas.
Ireland therefore calls for the easing of movement restrictions, to avoid exacerbating what is already an acute humanitarian crisis. We urge the Russian Federation to implement its commitments made at the Normandy Summit in Paris as well as in the Trilateral Contact Group, so that the Shchastia and Zolote Entry-Exit Crossing Points become fully operational, and that all the currently closed EECPs are reopened.
Humanitarian operations in the non-government controlled areas must also be facilitated, in adherence with international humanitarian law and other international standards.
We also remain concerned about serious human rights violations and abuses linked to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as reported by the OHCHR Monitoring Mission.
We are deeply disturbed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s freedom of movement continues to be restricted. Let me recall that all the signatories of the Minsk Agreements agreed on the need for the Special Monitoring Mission’s safe and secure access to the entire territory of Ukraine. It is also imperative to stop the practice of small-arms fire and signal interference with the SMM’s Unmanned Arial Vehicles and technical assets. We underscore that those responsible for any willful damage to SMM assets should be held accountable, both politically and financially.
Finally, Madam President Ireland calls on all sides to create the necessary environment to enable the implementation of the Minsk agreements to achieve a sustainable political settlement of the conflict and we call on the parties to act constructively within the Trilateral Contact Group and the Normandy format. Women on the ground are leading the way in the peacebuilding work. Work that is ongoing on the frontlines to facilitate dialogue between communities. Making space for those women and civil society in the peace process will be key to creating effective and sustainable conflict resolution.