Statement delivered by H.E. Juan Ramón de la Fuente, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN, at the Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on Russia’s Veto regarding the Annexation of Ukrainian Territories

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10 October 2022

Mr. Presidency, Excellences.

We welcome the special report submitted by the Security Council in light of General Assembly resolution 76/262, which remains applicable to the case under consideration.

Once again, a veto in the Security Council has convened us today in this Assembly.

As already mentioned, it is the veto of the Russian Federation on 30 September on draft resolution S/2022/720, concerning the referenda recently held on the territory of Ukraine, in the localities of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, with a view to its subsequent annexation.

Mexico voted in favor of draft resolution S/2022/720 as an elected member of the Security Council, and will do the same in this Assembly, based on its unwavering support and adherence to international law, in particular to the prohibition of territorial expansion through the use of force or other actions that contravene the UN Charter.

As we stated since the day the Russian invasion of Ukraine was confirmed last February: Mexico, as an independent country, has been the victim of four military invasions and, as a consequence of one of them, lost nearly half of its territory.

Therefore, Mexico cannot, under any circumstance, accept for another country to also be a victim of this type of aggression.

In recent weeks, the idea of apparent tension between the right to self-determination of peoples and the right to the territorial integrity of States has been raised. As if these were contrary notions with respect to which the international community should give priority to one over the other. For my country, there is no such dilemma.

If we understand international law as a system in which these principles are applied under certain criteria and conditions of specific situations, there is no room for false dichotomies, much less for interpretations that allow one of these principles to be invoked in open violation of the UN Charter.

This was clearly established in General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV), which states that the enjoyment and exercise of the right to self-determination of peoples cannot be understood “as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States”.

In sum, this rule of international law, which derives from the UN Charter itself, and which has been endorsed by the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice, renders the so-called referenda held in the occupied territories of Ukraine legally invalid. Moreover, the fact that this exercise was carried out in territory under a military invasion renders nugatory any expression of popular will.

Mexico upholds the sovereignty, national unity, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders. That has been the case since the beginning of the war.

Any attempt of territorial annexation represents an escalation of the armed conflict, including a nuclear threat or a nuclear accident, and as long as a safe perimeter around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is not established and the safety of any other nuclear facility is guaranteed.

Recent attacks on civilian infrastructure, contrary to international humanitarian law, deepen day by day the severity of the conflict and the costs of war on society.

In this context, the efforts of the Secretary-General and other possible international actors capable of calling a truce, promoting dialogue, and resuming diplomacy, to find political ways to put an end to the war, as my country has repeatedly proposed, are urgent.

I conclude by agreeing, certainly with the majority of the States present here, on the importance that the General Assembly addresses the cause of this Emergency Special Session. A veto cannot be used to eliminate or undermine the framework of rules and legal institutions that we all have built in the heart of our Organization, whose sole purpose is the peaceful coexistence between nations.

The wrongly named right of veto has been present in the discussions of this General Assembly since the founding of the UN. It is time to find a collective and systematic solution to restrict its use under specific criteria. We invite delegations that have not done so to consider the Franco-Mexican initiative for the voluntary restriction of the veto in situations of mass atrocities and to subscribe it. The initiative already has 106 signatories. The real dilemma before us in the context of this Emergency Session is whether or not we want to do something more effective to prevent this regrettable circumstance from its continued recurrence.

I thank you.

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