Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Belarus H.E. Valentyn Rybakov at UN Security Council Open Debate on Conflict and Food Security

H.E. Valentyn Rybakov, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Belarus at the UN.

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New York, 19 May 2022


Mr. President,

The Republic of Belarus has always been attentively and responsibly approached the issue of food security both at the national level and in the international context.

Modern Belarus is completely self-sufficient in food production and makes a significant contribution to international food security.

Obstacles to solving food security problems have long been known – food waste, which in developed countries reaches 40%, inefficient food distribution systems and aggressive trade policies.

The first two categories are complex issues that require significant time and coordinated efforts to correct them, while trade policy issues in the context of food security are a quick and effective mechanism. A mechanism that some countries, unfortunately, often abuse by imposing various kinds of sanctions and prohibitions.

The UN Secretary General, as well as competent international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, all speak with one voice about the detrimental effect of unilateral restrictive measures and sanctions on international food security.

Back in November 2021, the World Bank reported on the negative effects of sanctions imposed by the EU, US, UK and Canada on Belarusian potash fertilizers.

President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko has repeatedly warned the world community about the perniciousness of imposing sanctions against the Belarusian potash industry and food products. We conveyed these warnings of the Head of the Belarusian State to the General Assembly and the UN Security Council.

But the authors of such sanctions were not ready to listen then and are not listening now to either international institutions, or experts, or representatives of countries where hunger and malnutrition threaten the survival of nations. As a result, according to the World Bank, the agricultural price index increased by 43% by May 2022 compared to last year, and each additional percentage point of food price increases will lead to an additional 10 million people who will fall into extreme poverty. Today, the UN Secretary General noted a 30 percent increase in the price of staple foods, which poses a direct threat to people in Africa and the Middle East.

We regret that even in the current conditions, the authors of the restrictions are busy looking for reasons to impose new sanctions, while at the same time hiding behind the conflict in Ukraine as the source of all human ills, forgetting about the numerous conflicts in other regions of the world.

Long before the events in Ukraine, when sanctions were imposed on Belarus, because the West did not like the results of our presidential elections, one of the reasons for them was supposedly a request for sanctions by the people of Belarus. It was presented that sanctions would bring freedom to the people of Belarus, that sanctions are freedom, sanctions liberate.

We have heard something similar before, however, instead of the word “sanctions” the word “labor” was used. Labor frees. I am sure that this phrase, written at the entrance to the concentration camps organized by the Nazis, has not yet been forgotten by those sitting in this hall. And we will never forget her either.

It is high time for the authors of unilateral restrictions to seriously think over their policy, to approach its correction in a comprehensive and flexible manner, abandoning political prejudices. It’s not too late to make the right decisions.

We agree with the UN Secretary-General’s call for the lifting of sanctions and the reintegration of Belarus’ food and fertilizer production into global markets. This will be an important step towards ensuring international food security. For its part, Belarus is ready to work with all interested parties and consider any constructive proposals also without any political prejudices.

Belarus will continue to do everything possible to maintain the dialogue initiated by the efforts of the President of Belarus to end the conflict in Ukraine as soon as possible and is ready to contribute to ensuring global food security. We once again call on the authors of the sanctions to hear the voice of the international community and stop using this destructive mechanism.

Thank you for your attention.

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