Russia’s military offensive is a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, President of the UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid said on Monday as he called for an immediate ceasefire and full return to diplomacy and dialogue.
Shahid, presiding over a rare emergency special session of the 193-member UN body on Ukraine, voiced grave concern about the fast-deteriorating situation and ongoing military action in Ukraine.
“The military offensive by the Russian Federation is a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and is inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. Today, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire; for all parties to exercise maximum restraint; and for a full return to diplomacy and dialogue, Shahid, President of the 76th session of the UNGA, said.
As Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko hosted the first face-to-face talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegation since Russia’s special military operation in eastern Ukraine, Shahid said this rare window of opportunity has opened up for dialogue. Let’s use this opportunity to meaningfully and rapidly de-escalate the situation.
A day after the 15-nation UN Security Council voted to refer the Russia-Ukraine crisis to an emergency session of the General Assembly, the most representative body of the United Nations convened the rare emergency session on Russia’s military operation against Ukraine, only the 11th such emergency session of the General Assembly since 1950.
With the adoption of the UNSC resolution on Sunday, it was for the first time in 40 years that the Council decided to call for an emergency special session in the General Assembly.
Shahid said the convening of the 11th Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, rooted in the Charter and mandated in resolution entitled Uniting for peace’, is a new opportunity to ensure that the leadership of the United Nations is up to the expectation of the people we serve on matters related to peace and security.
He called for diplomacy and dialogue to prevail and the violence to stop, emphasising that the ongoing military offensive is inconsistent with the United Nations Charter, which is based on the principle of sovereign equality and outlines a world where Member States settle their international disputes by peaceful means, without the threat or use of force.
Underlining that there are no winners in war, but countless lives are torn apart, Shahid stressed that security and access for humanitarian efforts must be guaranteed.
The Security Council Friday evening failed to adopt a resolution that would have deplored Russia’s aggression against Ukraine after Moscow used its veto. India, China and the UAE abstained, Russia used its veto and 11 Council members voted in favour.
India abstained again, along with China and UAE, when the Council voted on Sunday on the procedural resolution to refer the Ukraine crisis to an emergency session of the General Assembly. Russia voted against and 11 Council members in favour.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield had said on Friday after the failed UNSC vote that “we will be taking this matter to the General Assembly, where the Russian veto does not apply and the nations of the world will continue to hold Russia accountable.
While a UNSC resolution would have been legally binding and the UN General Assembly resolutions are not, a vote in the 193-member UN body is symbolic of world opinion on the crisis.
Shahid said the General Assembly with its 193 Member States represents the collective conscience of humanity.
The strength of this Assembly is rooted in its moral authority. Let’s demonstrate that moral courage and use today’s debate not to whip up war rhetoric, but to give peace a chance, he added.
Guns are better off when knotted. Let peace prevail, he said.
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