A year after the start of the war, Guterres pleads for peace

The United Nations General Assembly has been holding an emergency special session since Wednesday, for the 1st anniversary of the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. For the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, this offensive, launched a year ago, is “an affront to the collective conscience”.

This conflict, which “has dramatic humanitarian and human rights consequences”, East “a violation of the UN Charter and international law” and its “effects are felt far beyond Ukraine”noted the head of the UN in front of the member states.

And to add: “As I said on day one, Russia’s attack on Ukraine challenges the fundamental principles and values ​​of our multilateral system.“.

In the face of Russia’s attempt “unlawfully annex” four regions of Ukraine (Kherson, Zapporizhya, Donetsk and Luhansk), Guterres recalled “the unequivocal position” United Nations : “We are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.”

Humanitarian aid

While four out of ten Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance and vital infrastructure has been targeted, the UN has remained on the ground, working with humanitarian partners.

UN agencies are also cooperating with host countries, which have received more than 8 million Ukrainians – the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The Secretary-General recalled that last week the United Nations appealed for $5.6 billion in humanitarian assistance for the people of Ukraine, and urged Member States “to provide unwavering support”.

As for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, UN SG Guterres underlined that the UN is determined to uphold justice and accountability.

According to Guterres, a year after the start of the war, he becomes “increasingly obvious” how the conflict could get even worse, citing in particular “irresponsible military operations” which continue around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant – the largest nuclear installation in Europe.

He praised the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure that the area remains safe and considered it necessary that the security and safety of all Ukrainian nuclear power plants be guaranteed.

World dissensions

The UN chief also noted that war stokes regional instability and fuels global tensions and dissension, while diverting attention and resources from other crises and pressing global issues.

He judged “absolutely unacceptable” job threat says “tactic” of nuclear weapon. “It is high time to move away from the precipice”did he declare.

The Ukrainian population is suffering enormously. Ukrainians, Russians and many other peoples need peace. The longer the fighting lasts, the more difficult our task will be. We don’t have a moment to lose.” concluded the Secretary General.

A morally and legally indefensible war

For his part, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, recalled that the General Assembly “condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s offensive against Ukraine and its morally and legally indefensible war against its sovereign neighbour”.

For a whole year, the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and the international community have been constant and vocal in our calls to end this war and to adhere to the Charter of the United Nations and to international law. But it bears repeating today: It is illegal. Invading a neighbor is illegal. Annexation of the territory of another country is illegal“, hammered Kőrösi.

According to him, the international community is faced with difficult choices, particularly regarding the reconstruction of ” lost confidence. “These choices will put us either on the path of solidarity and collective determination to defend the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, or on the path of aggression, war, normalized violations of international law and ‘collapse of global action’he said.

While the threat of nuclear war still looms, as do the dangers of a nuclear accident, he considered this to be a “unacceptable threat, with potentially catastrophic global implications”.

“Nuclear war can never be won and should never be fought.he argued, expressing his strong support for the work of the IAEA to ensure nuclear safety and security in Ukraine and stressing “the urgent need to renew our commitment to global disarmament and the non-proliferation regime”.

Russia can end the war

The President of the General Assembly addressed “to all those who suffer the consequences of this war“, asserting that they were not forgotten. “Across the United Nations system, we are working tirelessly to find solutions to your plight and support you on the path to reconstruction,” he promised.

After wartime “The time will come for reconstruction, reconciliation and transformation. We know it won’t be easy. We know the scars run deep,” he further emphasized.

In the meantime, he wished to send a message to the leaders and people of the Russian Federation, calling on them to return “on the path to establishing and safeguarding peace, to contribute to shared stability and prosperity. Russia can end its aggression. Russia can end the war it started. Russia must put an end to this hell of bloodshed,” he concluded.

The deliberate destruction of culture must stop

For their part, independent UN experts on Wednesday launched an urgent appeal for an end to the deliberate destruction of Ukraine’s cultural treasures by Russian forces.

Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education and Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, also expressed their concern at the “continuous denigration of the history and identity of the Ukrainian people as a justification for war and hatred”.

The experts cited reports that culturally significant sites in Ukraine had been intentionally targeted, when they should be protected, in accordance with international law, in particular the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict.

“The indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on densely populated areas, and the damage done to civilian infrastructure in the process, are of such magnitude that they suggest a deliberate campaign of destruction”the experts said in a statement.

It is estimated that more than 240 Ukrainian heritage sites have been damaged since the conflict began on February 24 last year, according to the United Nations cultural, educational and scientific agency UNESCO. But the actual number of attacks could be over 1,000, the three experts said.

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