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Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Ukraine


Thank you very much, Madam President.


I would like to welcome back the Secretary-General and thank him for his briefing this afternoon and also to extend a particularly warm welcome to Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner Bachelet, and also thanks to USG Griffiths and a big thank you to Tetiana Luzan for updating us today, both of you, on the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine. Your briefings highlight yet again the sheer, the utter, senselessness of this unlawful war.



Madam President,




11 weeks into this unjustified, unjustifiable war, we continue to witness widespread destruction, indiscriminate attacks and unconscionable human suffering. As each day passes reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by Russia grow. And, as we have heard from colleagues around this table, the consequences are being felt far beyond Ukraine and Europe. Russia must end its war now.


We salute the courageous decision by the Secretary General to visit Moscow and Kyiv last week. The founders of these United Nations were clear on their primary objective – to prevent the human suffering wrought from war.


The Secretary General speaks for all of us in deploring this war and calling for its end. The cynical timing of further attacks on civilian infrastructure during your time in Kyiv, Secretary-General, and following your visit to Moscow, is further evidence of the disdain that has been shown towards the UN.


It is more than regrettable that we should have to recall that the Secretary-General of the UN is appointed by all members of the UN. He is mandated by all members of the UN. We have a responsibility towards our Secretary-General.



Secretary-General, what you witnessed in Bucha, in Irpin and in Borodianka follows the devastation wrought on Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol as well as elsewhere. Civilians, as you said, are paying the highest price for this conflict.


We commend the work of the UN agencies in Ukraine and the organisations with whom they are working to alleviate the suffering there. They have our support. They have our appreciation.


We welcome your work to put in place arrangements for the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol. We welcome the ongoing life-saving work of the UN and the ICRC there. We believe that thousands still remain trapped and under siege. We encourage all parties to ensure that these safe passage operations continue and let humanitarian aid reach all those in need. 



Parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to limit attacks to military objects. That also includes the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in attack. Compliance is not optional.


Madam President,


We have heard today from High Commissioner Bachelet of how civilians continue to bear the brunt of this unconscionable war. We condemn the horrific violations documented by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine – unlawful killings including summary executions; conflict-related sexual violence; arbitrary detentions and deportations, including of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists, enforced disappearances and torture of prisoners of war. 


All allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law must continue to be investigated and those responsible held to account. The people of Ukraine deserve nothing less.



Let’s be clear, Madam President.



Daily, we see the devastating impact of the use of explosive weapons, including prohibited cluster munitions, by Russian forces in populated areas without regard for civilians. We see the toll of destruction of homes, hospitals and schools.


We know what we are dealing with: it cannot be dismissed as fake news.


The sheer scale of destruction in itself belies the Russian Federation’s attempt to dissemble and distort reality. We condemn indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in all circumstances. We reject all efforts to question reality.


We are resolved to ensuring accountability for the atrocious crimes taking place in Ukraine. We recognise the important role of the ongoing investigation of the International Criminal Court in helping to pursue this.


We must not, we cannot, accept impunity for those inflicting such horrors - not in Ukraine, not anywhere else in the world. As you said last week, High Commissioner, “accountability is a cornerstone of upholding human rights.” We will never shirk our responsibility in upholding human rights.


We once again call on the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations under international law.


To allow full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for humanitarian personnel.


To allow all those seeking to leave Ukraine to do so safely, and to destinations of their choosing. 


Civilians who choose to remain in Ukraine are not combatants. That is a fact. Pure and simple. They must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law.


Madam President,


The international community and this Council must not be numb to the devastation and tragedy that continues in Ukraine. 


I am marked by the horror of the death of a 91-year old holocaust survivor who froze to death in a basement in Mariupol – her life ending, under our watch, in a shameful reflection of how, as a child, she had hidden to save her own life during the war she called the Great Patriotic War.


Stopping this war today could not undo what has been done.  It could not bring back those lost, nor erase the horrors that those who have been forced to flee have endured. It could not undo the human suffering already caused around the world.


But it would stop the slaughter, it would save lives. Russia must end its aggression, comply with its obligations under international law, and withdraw all forces unconditionally from the entirety of the sovereign territory of Ukraine.


We call again on the Russian Federation to end its war. It is never too late to do the right thing.


Thank you.



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