United Nations General Assembly: The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

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

Mr. President,

Today’s annual UN General Assembly debate on Ukraine takes place at a critical time for Ukraine, for Europe, and for our international community.

Consistent with the UN Charter, and as members of the General Assembly, it is our responsibility to do all we can do avoid the deadly consequences of war.

We know only too well that the cost of conflict falls on civilians, with a disproportionate burden carried by women, children and the elderly - death, injury, displacement, loss of critical infrastructure, reduced access to healthcare and education, and the curtailment of human rights and freedoms.

This is why New Zealand stands so strongly opposed to Russia’s deliberate and provocative actions taken in the last few days. Russia’s actions represent a clear breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and a sharp violation of international law and the Minsk Agreements.

New Zealand strongly supports the sovereign right of any state to determine its own future, including in terms of its security relationships.

We have been consistent in expressing our strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and international diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution.

There is no basis under international law for the recognition of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic”.

Their recognition by Russia and deployment of Russian troops into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions undermines diplomatic efforts towards a de-escalation of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

New Zealand is deeply concerned that this is a calculated act by Russia to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.

Everyone in this chamber knows that a military invasion is an act of aggression, and a violation of one of the most fundamental principles of international law.

We join the Secretary-General in being deeply concerned about the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping. We agree that when troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not peacekeepers at all.

Recent increases in ceasefire violations and civilian casualties in the conflict zones in the Donbas region are of great concern.

Human rights violations in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed ‘republics’, and in Russian-occupied Crimea, are very troubling.

New Zealand joins the international community in calling for human rights violations in the Donbas region to cease.

We encourage Russia, Ukraine and other partners to intensify dialogue – including through a return to the Normandy format – with a focus on bringing about an urgent de-escalation of tension.

We call on Russia and all parties to respect international humanitarian law.

And we call on Russia to commit to dialogue to resolve its security concerns, to act in the interests of peace and the principles of the United Nations, and to act consistently with its responsibilities as a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council.

Mr President,

Russia’s continued efforts to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine represent one of the most significant risks to international peace and international security in decades.

The impacts of such a conflict will not be confined to Europe.

It will further destabilise the international community at a time when geostrategic uncertainty is already high, the international rules system is under pressure, and the global economy remains fragile, all compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a dangerous time. We are at a critical juncture. But it is one where we believe that diplomacy must prevail in preventing a conflict that would have tragic consequences for Ukraine, for Europe, for Russia, and the world.

New Zealand supports the Secretary-General’s rallying call to resolve this crisis without further bloodshed. We stand ready to support international diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine in any way we can.

Thank you.


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