Mainstream

Home > 2022 > Remarks by UN Sec. Gen to the Security Council meeting on Ukraine, in New (...)

Mainstream, VOL LX No 16, New Delhi, April 9, 2022

Remarks by UN Sec. Gen to the Security Council meeting on Ukraine, in New York on 5 April

Friday 8 April 2022

6 April 2022

UNIC/PRESS RELEASE/066-2022

FROM THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL

UKRAINE

Secretary-General Expressing Deep Regret over Inaction on Suffering Ukraine

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council meeting on Ukraine, in New York on 5 April:

The war in Ukraine is one of the greatest challenges ever to the international order and the global peace architecture founded on the United Nations Charter. Because of its nature, intensity and consequences.

We are dealing with the full-fledged invasion, on several fronts, of one Member State of the United Nations, Ukraine, by another, the Russian Federation — a permanent member of the Security Council — in violation of the United Nations Charter, and with several aims, including redrawing the internationally recognized borders between the two countries.

The war has led to senseless loss of life, massive devastation in urban centres and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. I will never forget the horrifying images of civilians killed in Bucha. I immediately called for an independent investigation to guarantee effective accountability.

I am also deeply shocked by the personal testimony of rapes and sexual violence that are now emerging. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken of possible war crimes, grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law. The war has displaced more than 10 million people in just one month — the fastest forced population movement since the Second World War.

Far beyond Ukraine’s borders, the war has led to massive increases in the prices of food, energy and fertilizers, because Russia and Ukraine are lynchpins of these markets. It has disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of transportation, putting even more pressure on the developing world. Many developing countries were already on the verge of debt collapse, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of adequate liquidity and debt relief, stemming ultimately from the unfair nature of our global economic and financial system. For all these reasons, it is more urgent by the day to silence the guns.

That is why I asked the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, to travel to Russia and Ukraine to press for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire. Under-Secretary-General Griffiths will update you on the humanitarian situation and the results of his contacts so far. Under-Secretary-General [Rosemary] DiCarlo will also brief you on the political dimensions. But, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, it is my duty to call the attention of the Council to the serious damage being done to the global economy, and particularly to vulnerable people and developing countries.

Our analysis indicates that 74 developing countries, with a total population of 1.2 billion people, are particularly vulnerable to spiking food, energy and fertilizer costs. Debt obligations take up some 16 per cent of developing countries’ export earnings. In small island developing States, the figure is 34 per cent and rising because of increased interest rates and the need to pay for expensive imports.

In the past month alone, wheat prices have increased by 22 per cent, maize by 21 per cent and barley by 31 per cent. Brent oil prices on 1 April were more than 60 per cent higher than at the same time last year. A series of events have led to that, not only the present situation. Natural gas and fertilizer prices more than doubled over the same period. We are already seeing some countries move from vulnerability into crisis, and signs of serious social unrest.

The flames of conflict are fuelled by inequality, deprivation and underfunding. With all the warning signals flashing red, we have a duty to act. The Global Crisis Response Group on food, energy and finance that I set up last month has formulated some initial recommendations for the consideration of Member States, international financial institutions and others.

On food, we are urging all countries to keep markets open, resist unjustified and unnecessary export restrictions and make reserves available to countries at risk of hunger and famine. This is not the time for protectionism. Humanitarian appeals must be fully funded. People caught up in crisis around the world cannot pay the price for this war. On energy, the use of strategic stockpiles and additional reserves could help to ease this energy crisis in the short term.

But the only medium- and long-term solution is to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, which is not impacted by market fluctuations. This will allow the progressive phase-out of coal and all other fossil fuels. Renewables are already cheaper in most cases.

And on finance, international financial institutions must go into emergency mode. We need urgent action by the G20 and international financial institutions to increase liquidity and fiscal space so that Governments can provide safety nets for the poorest and most vulnerable. The reform I have been calling for of the global financial system is long overdue. All these actions are closely linked with the prevention agenda and with building and sustaining peace.

The war in Ukraine must stop — now. We need serious negotiations for peace, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter. This Council is charged with maintaining peace — and doing so in solidarity. I deeply regret the divisions that have prevented the Security Council from acting not only on Ukraine, but on other threats to peace and security around the world.

I urge the Council to do everything in its power to end the war and to mitigate its impact, both on the suffering people of Ukraine, and on vulnerable people and developing countries around the world.

Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.