Ministry Statements & Speeches:
Mr President, Mr Secretary-General,
Today our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine as they continue to fight Russia’s large-scale invasion.
Innocent lives lost. Everyday lives in turmoil. Young and old lives that will never be the same as innocent people suddenly find themselves as refugees. The worst part of the trauma we see unfolding in front of us is knowing that it was completely avoidable.
New Zealand is in no doubt that the conflict in Ukraine is a direct result of the unprovoked and unjustified actions of Russia, and its decision to flagrantly ignore international law. Russia is escalating its aggression by its decision to increase the readiness of its nuclear weapons. Russia’s actions are nothing short of the acts of a bully.
New Zealand supports the Secretary-General’s assessment that these acts represent a clear violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and are inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
In standing in support of Ukraine, we are also standing in defence of the UN Charter. We cannot pick and choose when to espouse the centrality of the Charter.
This emergency special session of the General Assembly is taking place as a direct result of Russia’s actions alone. Its ongoing military aggressions threaten not only the peace and security of Ukraine, but that of Europe, and of the international community.
We are here today because the United Nations Security Council failed to act last Friday to condemn Russia’s actions to invade Ukraine. Russia’s use of the veto, when it is not only a party to this conflict, but the direct cause of it, is a disgrace.
New Zealand, along with a group of small states, opposed the granting of the veto to the P5. We have continued to oppose the veto since its inception. And we remain strong in our conviction that there is no place for the veto in the UN Security Council.
With the Security Council failing to deliver against its responsibilities, we the General Assembly must now stand up to play our part. New Zealand is a primary co-sponsor of the General Assembly resolution, and we encourage all Member States to vote in favour of the resolution, in support of Ukraine, in support of international peace and security and in support of our treasured UN Charter.
New Zealand has consistently expressed our strong support for international efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis diplomatically. Having turned away from diplomacy, Russia must now face the consequences of that decision.
New Zealand has joined other Member States in implementing measures to respond to Russia’s actions, including introducing targeted travel bans against Russian Government officials and other individuals associated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine; and prohibiting the export of goods to Russian military and security forces.
Our thoughts today must be with the people of Ukraine who are now facing a humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict.
We echo the President of the General Assembly’s call that all Member States must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law.
Further, we, the international community, must act now to prevent further pointless loss of innocent life and to support those who now find themselves displaced through no fault of their own.
We commend Ukraine’s neighbours for their selfless acts of taking in large numbers of Ukrainians and other nationalities who seek refuge from this conflict.
We acknowledge with a grim sense of horror, but sadly with little surprise, the role of accomplice and facilitator that Belarus has played in support of Russia's invasion.
New Zealand has also extended its travel ban to key members of the Belarusian Government.
New Zealand is contributing financially to the humanitarian response and will consider all humanitarian options available to support the international humanitarian response.
We welcome France and Mexico’s tabling of a humanitarian resolution in the United Nations Security Council today.
Finally, Aotearoa New Zealand is a proponent of peace and reconciliation. In this vein, we say to Russia:
Act consistently with your international obligations;
Cease military operations in Ukraine;
Permanently withdraw to avoid a catastrophic and pointless loss of innocent life;
Take all possible steps to protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law; and
Return to diplomatic negotiations as a pathway to resolve this conflict.