On 9 January 2020, the UN Security Council held an open debate under the chairmanship of Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on the subject of “Upholding the UN Charter to Maintain International Peace and Security”. UN Secretary-General António Guterres and more than
100 delegations of the United Nations member-states participated in the debate.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Sergiy Kyslytsya, on behalf of Canada, Germany, Sweden and Ukraine, expressed gratitude to all who expressed condolences in connection with the crash of a passenger aircraft of Ukraine International Airlines near Tehran International Airport, which took lives of
176 citizens of Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany and the United Kingdom. He stressed the need to investigate the causes of the catastrophe and to this end to provide unconditional support for the work of respective experts.
In his statement Sergiy Kyslytsya also reaffirmed Ukraine’s unconditional support for the UN Charter and drew attention of UN member-states to the continuing aggression against Ukraine and temporary occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, which remain the most flagrant violations of the UN Charter of our times.
Speaking to the press at the UN headquarters, Sergiy Kyslytsya underlined that Ukraine and other countries, whose nationals lost lives in the crash of the Ukrainian passenger aircraft near Tehran, are taking steps to find answers to the question of what caused the catastrophe. For this end, Deputy Minister said, the experts must receive unconditional support in investigating this tragedy.
At the outset, allow me to congratulate you on assuming the Council’s membership and the Presidency for the current month. It is no small feat by all accounts; I am sure Viet Nam will excel in shouldering this important responsibility.
Also, on behalf of Canada, Germany, Sweden, and Ukraine, I would like to thank all, who expressed their condolences in connection with the crash of a passenger aircraft of Ukraine International Airlines near Tehran International Airport. We are grateful for words of support to the families and loved ones of the victims of the tragic catastrophe.
176 innocent lives have been lost: citizens of Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The circumstances of this catastrophe are still unclear. It is now up to the experts to investigate it and to find answers to the question of what caused the crash. To do so, our experts must receive unconditional support for their investigation into the incident.
Before proceeding, I would like to put on record that my delegation aligns itself with the statement to be delivered later on behalf of the European Union.
We appreciate, Mr. Minister, your timely initiative to launch the year marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations with the discussion of the importance of upholding its founding document — the UN Charter.
Let us recall that back in 1945 at the San Francisco Conference the very name of our Organization was a subject of intellectual debate, in particular the proposal by the prominent US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to name it the United Nations. Interestingly that those countries, which opposed such a name, were afraid that there might be a conflict among the nations in the future and the name “United Nations” would not correspond to the realities. I wish to repeat what the Ukrainian representative in San Francisco responded to such concerns (and I quote):
“Delegation of Ukraine believes that one should not have such a pessimistic look into the future of our Organization: it should be constructed in such a way, which would avoid the possibility of a division or conflict among nations” (End of quote).
He also insisted that every nation, which would become a member of this organization, would have to fully share the principles which united the nations during the war and to fight for them.
Today I fully subscribe to the worlds of the representative of Ukraine at the San Francisco conference.
Still can I say today, 75 years later, as a representative of the country which fought for the name of the United Nations and appealed for optimism, as a representative of the country, the victim of the ongoing armed aggression on the part of the UN Security Council permanent member, that we have made the right choice and have fulfilled the aspirations of the founding fathers of the United Nations?
Especially when there is no unity among nations, there are ongoing wars among UN Members and there are old and new democracies that work hard to ensure unity at the national level. The unity that is based on democracy, human rights, rule of law and social cohesion. In fact, this is a key message consistently promoted by my own President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Since 1945 there have been very many Security Council meetings and other events dedicated to the UN Charter and all sorts of anniversaries. Let us recall here the Security Council summit of 31 January 1992. If you read 146 pages of its verbatim records, you will see how good were the speechwriters of all the heads of state and government, who took part in it. And how euphonic and saturated with ideas were the speeches, still occasionally rather amusingly departed from reality.
Interestingly, many of those summits were taking place around anniversaries or against the backdrop of major regional conflicts. The very summit of 1992 was held following the start of the Balkan wars and soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
As we approach another milestone, we view Viet Nam’s initiate to convene today’s meeting as a useful opportunity to take stock of how UN Charter principles and purposes are honored (or not), yet another time against the background of escalation of regional conflicts and the ongoing war between UN members in Europe.
One thought that I would like to share with you is that among dozens of statements on the UN Charter, which I have read, there is quite a multitude, to which I would subscribe myself. As those statements with all the right words glorified the supremacy of international law and triumph of the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. If not for one thing. If these statements had not been pronounced by those, who upon becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council and joining the OSCE and the Council of Europe, unleashed in this century more than one war against their immediate neighbours.
So, let us not judge by the ornate style of their statements, but rather by concrete deeds and compliance with the UN Charter.
During the discussion about the UN Charter it is difficult to avoid one of the core principles to settle all international disputes by peaceful means in order not to endanger international peace, security and justice. My delegation is convinced that there is no alternative. Therefore, there is no doubt that the International Court of Justice remains one of the important parts of the mechanism established by the UN Charter for the peaceful settlement of disputes between states, and of the system for maintaining international peace and security in general.
Whatever and whoever says or writes in grand words to suit political considerations, the temporary occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea remains the most flagrant violation of the UN Charter of our time and it will remain so in the books of history.
In these books of history this international armed conflict will be recorded as having claimed in the past six years lives of nearly 14,000 persons, leaving at least 30,000 injured and millions of forcibly displaced.
I am a strong believer in the indispensable role that this Council can and must play in safeguarding the first purpose inscribed in the UN Charter — in maintaining international peace and security as well as in ensuring accountability for breaches of international law.
Despite the fact the drafters of the Charter envisioned in Article 27 the intent to remove a prospect for a Council member to cast a vote when a conflict of interest is clearly present, this integral part of the Charter is often overlooked for the sake of political expediency.
We regret that under such circumstances the Council was unable to take action on Ukraine’s request of March 2015 regarding the deployment of a robust UN mandated multinational peacekeeping force in the occupied Donbas. And after a couple of years of inaction the Russian Federation even expressed doubt that such a request even existed.
Let me remind you that two years later, when the Russian Federation put forward its own proposal, we have provided our partners in the Security Council with Ukraine’s vision of the major elements of the mandate of a possible peacekeeping operation. Now, five years later, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine points to the importance of the deployment of peacekeepers along the Ukrainian-Russian border, which could help bring long overdue peace to the Ukrainian land.
Certainly, the quality of work of the Security Council largely depends on the quality of its membership. At this point, I wish to commend the work of non-permanent members, who left the Council upon completion of their two-year term. Our good friend and neighbor Poland, which contributed significantly to the Council’s activities, will be particularly missed by us. We trust that new non-permanent members are fully dedicated to the fulfilment of their important mission.
“I come to this anniversary not to speak of futility or failure nor of doubt and despair — I come to raise a voice of confidence in both the future of the United Nations and the fate of the human race”. Not my words. They belong to the head of state, who pronounced them at the meeting dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the UN Charter in 1965.
Let me express the hope that by the time of the formal anniversary events in October we all, the truly united nations, by our actions and not words, by stopping the ongoing military aggression and deescalating regional conflicts, will have the moral right to joyfully celebrate and not somberly mark yet another anniversary. Anniversary of the Organization, which was created by the peoples and for the peoples, as the famous opening words of the UN Charter read: “We, the peoples of the United Nations”.
We must do our utmost not to fail our peoples.
I thank you.