United Nations General Assembly: Eleventh Emergency Special Session

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger.

New Zealand thanks the President of the General Assembly for resuming the Emergency Special Session to consider the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. 

New Zealand associates ourselves with the Pacific Island Forum statement delivered earlier this morning.

We are saddened by the urgent and sombre circumstances under which we meet. 

We are alarmed to see the thousands of civilian casualties, and the millions who have been displaced by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine. 

We are deeply concerned by the disproportionate effects that this conflict is having on women and girls, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

The scale of this crisis demands a strong and effective response from the General Assembly. 

For this reason, New Zealand co-sponsored the resolution introduced by Ukraine this morning. We welcome the resolution’s highlighting of the impact of the conflict on women and children. We also welcome that the resolution clearly identifies Russia’s invasion as the cause of the severe spike in humanitarian need. It is a matter of fact.

Russia ignored international law when it invaded Ukraine. 

Russia is violating international humanitarian law every day this conflict continues.  

Civilians are not targets. Civilian infrastructure is not a target. Medical facilities and personnel are not legitimate targets. Cluster munitions and chemical weapons are banned. Threats to use nuclear weapons are morally reprehensible. 

As Russia’s accomplice, Belarus shares responsibility for this humanitarian crisis.  

We commend those who have stepped up to provide humanitarian support. 

Ukrainian and international humanitarian organisations are providing life-saving humanitarian assistance. 

Ukraine’s neighbours have generously welcomed millions of civilians that have been forced to flee. 

The UN system has quickly scaled up its response.

Aotearoa New Zealand is assisting international humanitarian efforts. We have made an initial contribution of six million New Zealand dollars to the humanitarian response and we expect to provide further contributions. 

However, we are concerned that Russia’s actions are stretching the global humanitarian system to its limit. 

Resources and attention are being diverted away from other crises.

Russia’s choice, and yes it was a choice, to invade Ukraine is reverberating far beyond the immediate region.  

Production and distribution of basic foodstuffs is already being disrupted, bringing acute stress to countries already on the brink. Higher food, fuel and fertiliser prices will exacerbate already vulnerable situations. 

No country, big or small, with or without a veto, should be allowed to act with impunity when it violates the basic tenets of international humanitarian law.

President Putin’s actions represent a grave breach of international law and the UN charter. Russia must be held accountable.

As a long-standing proponent of peace and reconciliation, New Zealand calls on Russia to: 
Act consistently with your international obligations; 
Urgently de-escalate the conflict by ceasing military operations in Ukraine; 
Take all possible steps to protect civilians; 
Provide humanitarian actors with access and guarantees of safety that they need and; 
Engage sincerely in diplomatic negotiations as a pathway to resolve this conflict.

Ultimately, the grave humanitarian situation in, and around, Ukraine will be resolved only by a full cessation of hostilities.

New Zealand encourages Member States to act together and vote in support of the resolution, 'Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine' to show what we stand for as a community – a community of United Nations. 

Thank you.


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