Emergency Special Session on Ukraine | General Assembly of the United Nations

Remarks by UN PGA76 H. E. Abdulla Shahid

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Publisher’s note:

Ukraine: Not since the founding of the United Nations in 1945 has there been such a moment as today – when 193 member states will, or ought, re-energize Hope while under threat of nuclear annihilation.

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,

We are all gravely concerned about the fast-deteriorating situation and ongoing military action in Ukraine.

As I emphasized last week, the military offensive by the Russian Federation is a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and is inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

Today, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire; for all parties to exercise maximum restraint; and for a full return to diplomacy and dialogue.

The convening of this 11th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, rooted in the Charter and mandated in resolution 377 A (V) entitled “Uniting for peace”, is a new opportunity to ensure that the leadership of the United Nations is up to the expectation of the people we serve on matters related to peace and security.

It is imperative that we act on behalf of the women, children and men caught in the crossfire. It is imperative that we pursue all available channels to contain the situation, to de-escalate tensions, and to seek peaceful resolution, in accordance with international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.

I welcome the announcement by the Secretary-General, on Friday, that $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund will be allocated to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

The humanitarian consequences on civilian populations, in particular women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups, will be devastating.

The mass exodus of refugees including foreign nationals, numbering over half a million, from Ukraine to the eastern edge of the European Union has showed no signs of stopping.

Checkpoints at the borders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and non-EU member Moldova have turned into choke points.

I encourage Member States to support humanitarian initiatives as they become available.

There are no winners in war, but countless lives are torn apart.

To that effect, security and access for humanitarian efforts must be guaranteed.

Excellencies,

The United Nations Charter, drafted so soon after the Second World War, is based on the principle of sovereign equality. It outlines a world where Member States settle their international disputes by peaceful means, without the threat or use of force.

The ongoing military offensive is inconsistent with this.

It is an affront to the founders of this organization and everything it stands for.

The violence must stop.

Humanitarian law and international humanitarian law must be respected.

And diplomacy and dialogue must prevail.

Excellencies,
Dear Colleagues,

In April 1946, the League of Nations dissolved, ending 26 years of the existence of an organization which ultimately had proven incapable of preventing the outbreak of the most destructive war in human history.

It was the League’s failure to provide a mechanism for the enforcement of international collective security that exposed its most fatal flaws.

The Right Honorable Viscount Robert Cecil, one of the original architects behind the League of Nations, in his final eulogy to the League said, “The League is dead. Long live the United Nations”.

We are now in the 76th year of the existence of the United Nations.

Let’s remind ourselves that we founded the United Nations to maintain international peace and security.

And to that end to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace.

And to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations.

Yesterday, a rare window of opportunity opened up for dialogue. As we convene here in the General Assembly, negotiators from both sides are holding talks in Belarus. This offers a ray of hope. We pray that these talks will calm down tempers and pave way to peace.

Excellencies,
Dear Colleagues,

The General Assembly with its 193 Member States represents the collective conscience of humanity.

The strength of this Assembly is rooted in its moral authority.

Let’s demonstrate that moral courage and use today’s debate not to whip up war rhetoric, but to give peace a chance.

Let’s ignite the fire of love, humanity and compassion.

Guns are better off when knotted.

Let peace prevail

I thank you.

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