Remarks by Csaba Kőrösi, President of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, to General Assembly debate on item 59: “The situation in the temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine”

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18 July 2023

Honorable Ministers,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

We gather today for a “regular and scheduled” debate.

But this situation is far from regular.

509 days of war, tens of thousands of deaths, scores of thousands of injured, almost 6 million refugees scattered across Europe, and over 6 million internally displaced people facing uncertainty,  an uncertain future.

Is this what it means “to uphold” the UN Charter?

Is this what it means to – let me quote – “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”?

For 17 months now, the fundamental principles we all agreed to cherish are being violated daily.

To speak of principles may sound theoretical or even philosophical, but these are far from abstract.

They are concrete and when we tolerate their erosion, these are the symptoms:

the targeting of critical civilian infrastructure;

the use of ecological warfare;

threatening the world with nuclear warfare;

consistent and systematic violations of international law; and

the widespread and well-documented violation of human rights law.

These relentless acts of warfare severely undermine trust within and in our institution.

Позвольте мне выразиться чётко, как в Уставе ООН.

Мы не можем допустить, чтобы развязывание войн стало нормой.

Агрессия против соседней страны незаконна.

Аннексия незаконна.

Нанесение ударов по гражданским объектам является незаконным.

Так было в 1945 (тысяча девятьсот сорок пятом) году, так было в 2014 (две тысячи четырнадцатом) году, и это остаётся актуальным сегодня.

[Russian translation: Let me be as clear as the Charter.

We can’t let unleashing wars become the norm.

Aggression against a neighbouring country is illegal.

Annexation is illegal.

Attacking civilian targets is illegal.

This was true in 1945, it was true in 2014, and it continues to be true today.]

We must remember that behind every number lies a mother, a father, a child, a grandparent.

To turn a blind eye would be an affront to the memory of those who have already perished.

While the Security Council has failed to adopt a single resolution related to the conflict, the General Assembly, resolute and active, has not let the international community become numb to this war.

We have convened Emergency Special Sessions and passed six resolutions, condemning aggression and annexation, and affirming our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

بِالرَّغْمِ مِنْ ذَلِكَ، يَجِبَ عَلَيْنَا اَلإعْتِرَافُ بِحَقِيقَةِ أَنَّ آثَارَ هَذِهِ اَلْحَرْبِ تَتَجَاوَزُ حُدُودَهَا بِكَثِيرٍ.

هَذِهِ اَلْحَرْبِ مُرْتَبِطَةً اِرْتِبَاطًا وَثِيقًا بِأَجِنْدَتِنَا لِلِاسْتِدَامَةِ وَأَهْدَافِ اَلتَّنْمِيَةِ اَلْمُسْتَدَامَةِ .

أَنَّهَا تُشَكِّلُ تَهْدِيدًا كَبِيرًا لِإِمْكَانِيَّةِ حُصُولِنَا عَلَى مُسْتَقْبَلٍ مُسْتَدَامٍ لِلْبَشَرِ وَالْكَوْكَبَ .

[Arabic translation: Yet, we must acknowledge the fact that the effects of this war extend far beyond its borders.

This war is deeply connected to our sustainability agenda and to the SDGs.

It threatens the very prospect of a sustainable future for people and the planet.]

How can we expect to effectively address food and energy insecurity, climate change, water security, and biodiversity loss when conflicts have ripple effects across the globe?

Pour faire simple, cette guerre est fondamentalement inconciliable avec la réalisation de nos objectifs communs – ceux que nous espérons accomplir pour assurer la survie de l’humanité.

Nous n’avons pas besoin que les nations se battent les unes contre les autres lorsque nous avons un ennemi commun : les “crises en cascade” à travers le monde.

[French translation: Simply put, this war is fundamentally unreconcilable with the achievement of our shared Goals – the ones we hope to secure humanity’s survival.

We do not need nations fighting each other when we have a common enemy: the cascading crises all over the world.]

On this note, let me acknowledge the critical importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative – a lifeline to millions of people around the globe.

I applaud the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General and Türkiye over the past 12 months.

I deeply regret the decision by the Russian Federation to not extend this vital instrument.

I implore all parties to come together in dialogue and diplomacy to restart negotiations, for it is always the most vulnerable who suffer the consequences.

Let them not pay the price of political games.

Amidst this turmoil, the threat of a nuclear catastrophe looms ominously over our heads – with Europe’s largest nuclear power plant located in an active conflict zone, posing grave, imminent danger far beyond the region.

The risk of a cataclysmic disaster or accident rises every day this war goes on.

I strongly support the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and urge Member States to recommit to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Nuclear rhetoric must be stopped.

I must repeat what I have said before: Nuclear arms will not solve a conflict.

We cannot play with a nuclear Armageddon.

Let us be reminded that we cannot expect military solutions to end this war.

But leadership, diplomacy, and political commitments from all sides will.

A political solution, founded on the UN Charter and international law, that restores Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, will.

The General Assembly has consistently called for political dialogue, negotiations, mediation, and other peaceful means.

But, let me appeal directly to Russia and its leaders:

Я, как и многие другие, с уважением отношусь к вашей нации, культуре.

Вы начали эту войну.

В ваших силах положить этому конец.

И, как одна из самых влиятельных, принимающих решения стран в мире, вы можете это сделать – eсли есть желание.

[Russian translation: I, as many others, have great respect to your nation, culture.

You initiated this war.

You have the power to end it.

And, as one of the most influential decision-makers in the world, you can do it – if you want to.]

Too many lives have been lost, families torn apart, and communities across Ukraine shattered.

It is imperative that all recognize and accept what the General Assembly and the international community know to be true: That this war, like all wars, will end.

That it will end with a sovereign and independent Ukraine, and a sovereign and independent Russia.

And that the Russian Federation and Ukraine will coexist as neighbours, as Member States within the same multilateral system.

This war must be ended.

And everybody should recommit to the values and principles of the UN Charter.

I urge Member States to redouble their efforts to help achieve peace.

I thank you.

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