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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2014

New Zealand Statement to UN Security Council Adoption of UNSC resolution on MH17 scheduled for 3pm Monday 21 July 2014

Statement by Ambassador Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 21 July 2014.

New Zealand welcomes the unanimous adoption of this Resolution by the Council. We were pleased to co-sponsor; and we compliment Australia on its leadership on this issue. 

It was imperative that this Council sent a strong and united message that the international investigation into the downing of Flight MH 17 must proceed without delay, that the integrity of the crash site be preserved, and that respect and dignity be accorded those who have died.  This is, as Minister Bishop has said, “a decisive step”.

New Zealand strongly supports the resolution’s call for an independent investigation, led by Ukraine in close coordination with ICAO and other international experts, not least the Netherlands, in the role just outlined by Minister Timmermans; and we stand ready to provide assistance if required. It now appears, Mr President – I emphasise, it appears – that we might be entering a period of cooperation; but we must still wait and see what cooperation actually eventuates.

Mr President:  There is increasing evidence that the crash of Flight MH 17 was no accident; that this was a criminal act, punishable at national or international law.  Those responsible must be brought to account; so we specifically call on all countries involved to act in accordance with their international legal obligations.

That means that the crash site is also a crime scene; but reports indicate that access has been denied by local separatists; that they have removed evidence (including the “black boxes”, so critical to any air accident investigation – it now appears that these been handed over, but they should never have been touched by unauthorised personnel) – and, even worse, that they have been removing bodies of victims.

We call on those people to cooperate with international authorities - immediately and unreservedly; particularly to allow a full corridor of safe and unfettered access to the site; and we also call on Russia to use its influence with these groups to ensure that progress is made – and is made immediately.

The integrity of the crash site must be preserved, and bodies must be accorded proper respect, as must personal effects, including passports. Those who loot dead bodies - those who play with toys recently fallen from the hands of children - are beneath contempt.

Mr President:  Victims have not been treated with appropriate dignity.   Such callousness is insulting to the victims, and brings further unnecessary suffering to their grieving families. It is utterly unacceptable.  Reports that bodies are now being moved to Amsterdam are welcome – but that’s only the dignified treatment that should have been accorded days ago.

Mr President:  This resolution demonstrates the international community’s resolve that things need to move, and they need to move now; and that the relevant authorities must be allowed to go about their appointed tasks. 

This Security Council must pay close and continuing attention on this crisis; and it must ensure that progress is swiftly made, that human dignity is respected, and that the perpetrators of this violent criminal act are brought to justice.

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Page last updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014 14:15 NZST