100 Votes in Favour, 11 against, 58 Abstentions for Text on Ukraine
27 March, 2014 The General Assembly affirmed its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, underscoring the invalidity of the 16 March referendum held in autonomous Crimea.
By a recorded vote of 100 in favour to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the Assembly adopted a resolution titled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”, calling on States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, and to refrain from actions or dealings that might be interpreted as such.
Also by the text, the Assembly called on States to “desist and refrain” from actions aimed at disrupting Ukraine’s national unity and territorial integrity, including by modifying its borders through the threat or use of force. It urged all parties immediately to pursue a peaceful resolution of the situation through direct political dialogue, to exercise restraint, and to refrain from unilateral actions and inflammatory rhetoric that could raise tensions.
Today’s debate preceding the vote offered the first opportunity for the broader United Nations membership to air their view on the Crimea question. Many said the referendum had contravened international law, the United Nations Charter and Ukraine’s Constitution, emphasizing that they would neither recognize it nor the Russian Federation’s subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea.
Presenting the non-binding text was Ukraine’s Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, who said that an integral part of his country had been forcibly annexed by a State that had previously committed itself to guaranteeing its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The draft resolution broke no new legal or normative ground, but sent an essential message that the international community would not allow events in Crimea to set a precedent for further challenges to the rules-based international framework.
Supporting those remarks, Georgia’s representative said the situation in mainland Ukraine was reminiscent of the Russian Federation’s seizure of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions in 2008, pointing out that 20 per cent of his country’s territory remained under illegal Russian occupation.
The representative of the Republic of Moldova said the Crimea referendum was not legal because it contravened Ukraine’s Constitution as well as international law. “The future of Ukraine can be considered and decided only upon the free will and aspirations of all Ukrainians themselves, without any outside influence,” he emphasized. Turkey’s representative stressed the need to ensure the security, well-being and rights of Crimean Tatar Turks, an integral part of the Crimean population.
The Russian Federation’s representative said, however, that the referendum had reunified Crimea with his country. “We call on everyone to respect that voluntary choice.” The Russian Government could not refuse Crimeans their right to self-determination, he said, blaming the political crisis in Ukraine on the “adventurous actions” of provocateurs whose actions had led to the reunification decision.
Several delegations explained their support for the text, with the Head of the European Union Delegation strongly condemning the illegal annexation, and the representative of the United States saying that today’s resolution made clear that “borders are not mere suggestions”. Coercion could not be the means by which self-determination was achieved.
Others took issue with the resolution’s motivations, expressing regret that the Assembly had failed to consider the historical context of the geopolitical dispute and the nature of the regime change that had occurred in Ukraine.
El Salvador’s representative, explaining his abstention, said the text neither reflected the difficulties of Ukrainians, nor helped to resolve the causes of the crisis. It neither called for dialogue, nor set a precedent for handling future inter- and intra-State tensions. Jamaica’s representative added that the adoption would only delay the quest for a peaceful resolution.
Also speaking today were representatives of Brazil, Cuba, Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, Canada, Japan, China, Iceland, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Norway, Cyprus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, Guatemala, Nigeria, Chile, Singapore, Argentina, Qatar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Viet Nam, Peru, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Ecuador, Belarus, Algeria, Honduras, Cabo Verde, Libya, Botswana, Paraguay and Armenia.
In other business today, the Assembly took note that Dominica had made the payment necessary to reduce its arrears to a level below the amount specified in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.
The General Assembly will reconvene at a date to be announced.
The General Assembly met this morning to take action on a draft resolution titled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
ANDRII DESHCHYTSIA, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, introduced the draft resolution (document A/68/L.39), saying that the reason for the presence of all delegations present today was an issue of paramount importance; of crucial importance for his country and of vital importance for every United Nations Member State, even more so for the United Nations and the world order it embodied. “What has happened in my country is a direct violation of the United Nations Charter,” he said. “Many struggle to grasp the reality — it happened in Ukraine, in the very heart of Europe. It happened in the twenty-first century,” he added.
After two weeks of military occupation, he recalled, an integral part of Ukraine had been forcibly annexed by a State that had previously committed itself to guarantee that country’s independence, sovereignty and territory integrity in accordance with the Budapest Memorandum; by a State which happened to be one of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, entrusted by the Organization’s membership with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Eight rounds of urgent Security Council discussions on the military intervention clearly demonstrated the extent of the Russian Federation’s isolation on the issue, he continued. “We have consistently called for the recognition of a polycentric world order, equal and indivisible security in full conformity with the United Nations Charter basic principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity of any State, inadmissibility of intervention in the domestic affair….”
That statement was not his own, but an excerpt from a Russian Government one delivered during the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly, he said, urging the Russian authorities to “practise what you preach”. The draft resolution was all about respect for territorial integrity and non-use of force to settle disputes, he emphasized. It broke no new legal or normative ground, but it sent an essential message that the international community would not allow what had happened in Crimea to set a precedent for further challenges to the rules-based international framework, he said.