Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Ukraine
Statement29 July 2022
On 22 July, Ireland welcomed the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which will, once implemented, help reduce pressure on those countries suffering as a result of food supply constraints and high prices.
We know that this agreement did not come easy. We commend Ukraine and Russia for overcoming the obstacles necessary to make it possible. We deeply appreciate the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General and his team. We also recognize the important contribution of President Erdoğan and the government of Türkiye, to bring the sides closer together.
In the words of the Secretary-General, the agreement is a ray of hope in a world darkened by global crises.
In the past year, global food prices have risen by nearly one-third and up to 95 million, that’s 95 million, more people, many of whom were already enduring hunger exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, conflict, disease and the global impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 95 million more could be plunged into acute food insecurity as a result.
We urge the full and immediate implementation of the initiative. Simply put, it could not be more urgent.
That is why the Russian attack on the port of Odesa less than 24 hours later was particularly cynical. We condemn this reprehensible act outright.
All parties made clear commitments to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain to global markets to help address the global food crisis, to help reduce pressure on high prices, and to help ease the suffering of millions, including in places already devastated by hunger like Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Lebanon.
We urge all sides to act in good faith and to implement their commitments without delay.
Ireland has been crystal clear since joining this Council on the irrefutable link between conflict and hunger. We encourage those who have been reluctant – I would say unwilling – to recognise this link, to think again, to reconsider their position, to look at this global crisis.
While we welcome last Friday’s agreement, we must not forget why this agreement was needed in the first place.
For more than five months, Russia has waged an unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine in violation of international law – a war that is an absolute affront to our UN Charter.
Most of here dedicate ourselves every day to protecting and promoting the Charter. The Charter is our touchstone. This war is a violation of that precious Charter.
With each passing day, new harrowing testimony emerges.
Innocent men and women targeted by gunfire while evacuating to save their own lives.
Children condemned for life to relive the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of their homes, their schools and their playgrounds.
Elderly Ukrainians speaking of being brutalized and starved in their own homes.
Across the country, civilians are being targeted, displaced and dying as a consequence of a war not in any way of their making.
Just this month, a Russian cruise missile hit civilian areas of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 100. Among those reported to have been killed was a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome. Absolute depravity.
This is not Russia’s first attack on Ukraine’s towns and cities, as we know too well. But it speaks to a worrying trend of attacks on civilian targets that appear to have just one goal in mind: to intimidate and terrorize the civilian population.
Let me be clear: those responsible for such attacks must be held to account.
Across Ukraine, attacks on civilian infrastructure have also left millions without access to basic health services, to water, to electricity, to gas and to adequate shelter.
We have all seen the images and we have read the reports. Women giving birth in bomb shelters and hospital basements, with no electricity for incubators. Unconscionable.
Children at imminent risk of being cut off from safe drinking water.
Families forced to flee due to fear of bombardment and war, or because the lack of electricity and heat in their homes has made them unlivable.
Needs are expected to grow as long as hostilities continue, promising to exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation as winter soon approaches.
We once again call on the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations under international law. Full stop.
Parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants and to attack only military objectives; the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks; and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in attack. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it one last time, compliance is not optional.
We urge the parties to facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need of life-saving assistance and medical support.
Russia alone bears responsibility for this war. Russia alone can end it. It is high time.
I call on the Russian Federation once again to put an end to this needless suffering, to comply with its obligations under international law, and to withdraw all its forces unconditionally from the entire sovereign territory of Ukraine.
Thank you, President.