Briefing by Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, to the UN Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security.

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22 March 2024

Madam President,

Distinguished members of the Security Council,


Ladies and gentlemen,

This Council once again meets against the devastating backdrop of war in Ukraine with peace very clearly continuing to elude us.

Just this morning, reports emerged of a massive wave of missile and drone attacks targeting power facilities in Ukraine, including in the country’s secondlargest city Kharkiv, leaving more than one million people without power.

There are also reports of impacts on water supply.

The scale and scope of this devastation are appalling.

The targeting of energy infrastructure providing essential public services is a black-and -white issue—it is simply unacceptable.

Civilians and civilian infrastructure must not be targets of indiscriminate attacks. All parties to any armed conflict have a duty to protect civilians in armed conflict, and to ensure compliance with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.

This large-scale destruction and human suffering cannot continue.

Turning now to the subject of this briefing, since the last discussion of this topic in January this year, the provision of military assistance and transfers of arms and ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces have continued in the context of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, launched by the Russian Federation in violation of the UN Charter and international law.

Much of the information from governments about their transfers of weapons systems and ammunition to Ukraine is available through open sources. These transfers have reportedly included heavy conventional weapons such as battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, combat aircraft, helicopters, large-calibre artillery systems, missile systems and uncrewed combat aerial vehicles, as well as remotely operated munitions, small arms and light weapons and their ammunition.

There have also been reports of States transferring, or planning to transfer, weapons such as uncrewed aerial vehicles, ballistic missiles and ammunition to the Russian armed forces and that these weapons have been used in Ukraine. I strongly reiterate that any transfer of weapons must take place within the applicable international legal framework, including of course, relevant Security Council resolutions.

Reports related to the use of anti-personnel landmines and the transfer and use of cluster munitions in Ukraine are deeply concerning. Anti-personnel mines, with their inherently indiscriminate nature, have no place in our world; their eradication is imperative, and their use must be unequivocally condemned. In addition, unexploded cluster munitions have stalled socio-economic development in affected countries and impacted entire communities already traumatized by war. There must be an immediate end to the use of these inhumane weapons which have severe and lasting humanitarian impacts.

Madam President,

The supply of weapons and ammunition into any armed conflict raises significant concerns about the potential escalation of violence and the risks of diversion of arms and ammunition. Importing and exporting States must act responsibly at every step along the arms and ammunition transfer chain to prevent diversion, illicit trafficking and misuse. In this regard, pre-transfer risk assessments, marking and record-keeping practices, as well as tracing capabilities, are of utmost importance.

The Secretary-General’s policy brief “A New Agenda for Peace” places arms control measures at the centre of preventing conflict, violence and sustaining peace. He called on States to take action to reduce “the human cost of weapons”. The full and effective implementation of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the International Tracing Instrument and the Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management must be part of the answer to that call.

Furthermore, to effectively combat diversion, illicit trafficking and misuse of arms and ammunition, compliance with, and the effective implementation of, legally binding instruments such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the Firearms Protocol, are necessary. Accordingly, their universalization must remain a priority.

I also urge States to consider the risk of transferred weapons and ammunition being used to facilitate and perpetrate gender-based violence, noting the continuing and concerning allegations of sexual violence related to the conflict in Ukraine.

Madam President,

The Secretary-General has unequivocally urged all States to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in all wars and conflicts, as such use is highly likely to result in devastating and indiscriminate impact on civilians.

The Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, adopted in November 2022, sits at the very core of humancentered disarmament efforts. It falls upon Member States to implement this Declaration in a broad and meaningful manner.

Madam President,

From 24 February 2022 to 19 March 2024, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has verified 10,756 civilians killed and 20,320 injured in Ukraine. The actual figures are likely to be considerably higher.

As has been briefed previously, the use of armed uncrewed aerial vehicles and missiles continues to negatively impact civilians, including deaths and injuries, and causing damage to civilian infrastructure. Just like any other weapons or weapons systems, armed uncrewed aerial vehicles and missiles must not be used in a manner inconsistent with international humanitarian law.

Madam President,

Distinguished members of the Security Council,

Almost twenty-five months have passed since the Russian Federation launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in violation of the UN Charter. There has been more than two years of death, destruction and suffering.

In the words of the Secretary-General, it is time to recommit to the UN Charter and renew respect for international law. That is the path to peace and security – in Ukraine and around the world.

I wish to reiterate the United Nations commitment to support all meaningful efforts to bring a just and sustainable peace to Ukraine guided by the UN Charter, and international law, including the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

I thank you very much for your attention.

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