Mr. Adedeji Ebo, Deputy to the High Representative of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, briefed the Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security

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January 22, 2023

Mr. Adedeji Ebo, briefing the Council on behalf of the High Representative, noted that 23 months of death, destruction and unbearable suffering have passed since the Russian Federation launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Over the last months, the provision of military assistance and transfers of arms and ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces have continued.  Such transfers have included heavy conventional weapons such as battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, combat aircraft, helicopters, large-calibre artillery systems, missile systems and uncrewed aerial combat vehicles, as well as remotely operated munitions, small arms and light weapons and their ammunition.  In addition, there have been reports of States transferring — or planning to transfer — weapons such as uncrewed aerial vehicles, ballistic missiles and ammunition to the Russian Federation Armed Forces.  There are also reports that these weapons have been used in Ukraine.

However, he emphasized that any transfer of weapons must occur within the applicable international legal framework, including relevant Council resolutions.

Expressing concern over reports related to the transfer and use of cluster munitions throughout the conflict, he stressed that “these weapons must be rendered inoperable and consigned to history”.  Moreover, mines and explosive remnants of war have resulted in widespread land contamination, rendering land unusable for agriculture and impeding the movement of people in Ukraine.

“The large-scale influx of weapons and ammunition into any armed conflict raises significant concerns for peace, security and stability,” he warned, underscoring the need to address challenges related to the diversion, proliferation and misuse of conventional weapons.

Noting that a significant reduction in illicit arms flows can only be effectively achieved through strong international cooperation, he spotlighted instruments — such as the Arms Trade Treaty — that should be fully leveraged to address the risks of diversion and illicit trafficking.

Accordingly, he called on all States to join relevant agreements, and fully implement their legal obligations under conventional-arms-control instruments to which they are party, to minimize the risk of diversion, illicit trafficking and misuse of arms and ammunition.

Further, States must avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as such use is highly likely to result in indiscriminate harm to civilians — including in both Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

He also called on all Member States to endorse and implement the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.

Describing the steady stream of attacks against civilian populations and infrastructure as “seriously distressing”, he highlighted the “unambiguous obligation” of parties to any armed conflict to protect civilians and ensure compliance with applicable international law.

He went on to report that, from 24 February 2022 to 21 January 2024, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has verified 29,731 civilian casualties in Ukraine, with 10,287 killed and 19,444 injured.  The actual figures are likely to be considerably higher.  Regrettably, the use of armed uncrewed aerial vehicles and missiles impacting civilian populations and infrastructure continues, resulting in deaths and injuries.  Just like any other weapon systems, armed uncrewed aerial vehicles and missiles must not be used in a manner inconsistent with international humanitarian law, he asserted, adding that “the only way to end the suffering and devastation is by ending this war”.

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