November 14, 2022
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, as well Georgia, Monaco and San Marino align themselves with this statement.
The General Assembly is called today to take action on the draft resolution entitled ‘Furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine’. While the title of the resolution explains its purpose and what it intends to achieve, some more background may be useful.
With that in mind, I will explain why we believe the resolution is necessary, what it does, and what it does not – in order to dispel any misconstructions, including some that we have just heard from this podium.
First, why do we support this resolution?
The answer is straight forward. Aggression has occurred. On 2nd of March this year, the General Assembly, with an overwhelming majority confirmed that the Russian Federation committed an aggression against Ukraine in violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter. An internationally wrongful act that hits at the core of the UN system.
People around the world are watching helplessly as innocent civilians are killed as a result of deliberate targeting, as infrastructure, hospitals, schools, homes are destroyed every day. Destruction is overwhelming. Damage inflicted on Ukraine is huge. And it is only growing bigger with every day the war rages on.
Under international law, the responsible State is under an obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by its internationally wrongful act. In order to prepare an orderly process, such damage needs to be properly registered in the first place. Accountability means that such costs move from the victims to the aggressor. There is no question of whether Russia should pay, but rather of when it will pay and what amount.
Second, what does this resolution do?
The resolution merely recommends the creation by Member States and Ukraine of a Register of Damage. That Register will serve as a repository of evidence of all types of damage. There are precedents for this, as we all know.
The resolution also recognizes the need for the establishment, in cooperation with Ukraine, of an international claims mechanism for reparation for damage as a second step. Rather than charging the domestic legal system of Ukraine and other States with a potentially very high number of individual litigation, a centralized and specialized system would be more appropriate. In our view, an international claims mechanism would provide for legal certainty and procedural fairness.
Russia must be held to account for its wrongful acts and wanton destruction. This is key if we are to uphold a rules-based international order. This is not about the West against the rest, but about respect for international rules.
Third, what does the resolution not do?
The resolution does not establish the Register of damage. Nor does it create the reparation mechanism. These instruments will be created at a later stage by Member States, in cooperation with Ukraine. There are no costs for the UN system stemming from this resolution. And no costs for anyone else, apart from Russia itself, who must bear responsibility for its wrongful acts.
We must stay the course in order to shape history. Russia’s denial of taking responsibility for destruction and damage adds insult to injury.
Let me conclude by saying that every country, regardless of its size, might or location on the globe, enjoys the right to document crimes committed against its population, territory, environment or cultural property in order to secure their proper investigation. Each State can also work together with other States or the international community to set up an efficient international mechanism to deal with reparation claims arising of such crimes.
Accordingly, the resolution essentially supports the path to justice. Today it is Ukraine, tomorrow it could be someone else.
We therefore call on everyone to vote in favour of this resolution.