Statement at the UNGA Emergency Special Session on Ukraine
Statement28 February 2022
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General,
For weeks, the spectre of war has haunted all of Europe. Despite strenuous diplomatic efforts to avert disaster, efforts which Ireland has strongly supported, our worst fears have come to pass. Through its decision to launch an invasion, violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the Russian Federation has brought war to European soil.
Ireland strongly condemns the Russian Federation’s further invasion of Ukraine, in flagrant violation of the UN Charter and its core principles.
The Russian Federation’s use of the veto at the Security Council was a reprehensible attempt to excuse its own military aggression against Ukraine, a fellow member of our United Nations. It will not prevent the international community from responding to Russia’s blatant breaches of international law, nor will it deter us from holding Russia accountable for its actions.
Ireland calls on this General Assembly to step up where the Council has failed, to uphold the principles of the UN Charter, to condemn aggression, and to support a return to the path of diplomacy and peace.
Let us be clear where the responsibility for war lies. This outbreak of hostilities was not inevitable. Responsibility rests with those who chose conflict over dialogue, and war over peace. They made their fateful choice in contravention of the UN Charter, and the principles to which all Member States of the UN are committed.
The Russian government’s decision to go to war leaves an indelible stain on the country’s reputation. We refuse to believe that the people of Russia want war, and we commend those who are bravely making their voices heard.
These United Nations rose from the ashes of two world wars. The senseless destruction of that era was born of a ruinous belief that military might makes right.
In face of this outdated philosophy, Ireland recalls that the rights and obligations embodied in the UN Charter protect us all, big or small. The commitments that we make as members of the UN are binding on every one of us.
This includes Belarus. Russia has not acted alone. Ireland also condemns Belarus’ involvement and reminds it of its responsibility to abide by international law. In this regard, the deletion of the reference to Belarus’s non-nuclear status in its constitution is of deep concern.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seriously undermined the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Its threat of nuclear weapons is utterly unacceptable and presents a dangerous and irresponsible escalation in tensions, and considerably heightens the risk of catastrophic miscalculation.
Russia’s continued aggression is causing mounting hardship and suffering for the people of Ukraine who have shown remarkable courage and resilience.
Russia’s invasion has triggered a new humanitarian crisis, compounding the suffering of millions, with many hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
In addition, hundreds of homes have been damaged and significant damage to civilian infrastructure has left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity or water, with some communities cut off from access to food markets and other basic supplies.
All parties must adhere to obligations under international humanitarian law, including in the selection of weapons and the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. In this regard, we are deeply concerned by reports of use by Russia of cluster munitions and other indiscriminate systems.
The Russian Federation must allow the safe and unhindered passage of humanitarian assistance to those in need. It must protect all civilians in Ukraine, allow them unfettered passage to destinations outside the country, and respect international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
As we are all too aware, women and girls face heightened risks and are particularly vulnerable in conflict, especially when displaced. This assembly must resolutely condemn any abuse or violation of the rights of women and girls.
Ireland has begun providing humanitarian support, announcing a €10 million humanitarian package, and we stand ready to do more. Together with our EU partners, we are responding to Russia’s illegal actions with firmness, determination and unity of purpose.
The horrific events in Ukraine have evoked old nightmares from the blood stained pages of European history. We must remember the bitter lessons of that history and reject outright the use of military aggression in international affairs today. We join others in calling on the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities, unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine, and refrain from further threats or the use of force of any kind against Ukraine or any other Member State, which could have serious implications beyond the region.
In sum, Russia must turn away from war and choose the path of dialogue and diplomacy. This is the right path, and the time to take it is now.
Thank you, Mr. President.