UNGA agenda item 67: Situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine

Statement by Karel van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

New York, 20 February 2019

Image: ©PV New York

Madam President,

I would like to align with the statement just made by the EU delegation on behalf of the EU and its member states.

In addition I would like to make some remarks in my national capacity.

I thank the honorable delegation of Ukraine for its timely efforts to spotlight the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. This occupation must not be allowed to persist. Five years of conflict has inflicted a heavy toll, on many parties.

Firstly, on the people of Ukraine. In five years, more than twelve thousand lives have been lost.

Many innocent civilians have had their daily lives disrupted, lost their homes, became displaced.

We thank the Secretary General and all UN agencies for their continuous efforts to monitor the human right situation and provide assistance wherever possible.

As the OHCHR reports clearly show, the human rights situations on the Russian occupied Crimean peninsula and the non-government controlled area’s in Eastern Ukraine remain deeply concerning.

We urgently call on the Russian Federation to respect human rights on the Crimean peninsula and to allow full access of human rights monitors.

We furthermore call on all parties to the conflict in eastern Ukraine to fully implement their responsibilities under the Minsk agreements, to commit to the seize-fire and to allow full humanitarian access.

Russia must halt its military and financial support to the armed formations in these areas.

It is important that the OHCHR continues to remotely monitor the situation of human rights also in these areas not currently controlled by the Ukrainian government. The world needs to know what is happening.

The words spoken by ASG for Humanitarian Assistance, Ursula Mueller, to the people of Ukraine during the Security Council briefing on 12 February should echo in this Assembly as well: “we have not forgotten you”.

Let me also express compassion for the relatives and loved ones of the victims of MH17. As my minister Stef Blok has stated in the Security Council May 29th last year, the Kingdom of the Netherland will continue its work towards full implementation of Security Council resolution 2166.

My second point, the Ukrainian reform process is suffering from the ongoing conflict.

Ukraine has embarked on an ambitious and challenging path towards reforming its economy and society.

We admire the important progress that has been made so far towards attaining these goals, and we applaud the positive role played by Ukraine’s vibrant civil society in this process.

But the conflict has put pressure on Ukraine’s economy, on its institutions and on the reform process. A clear example is the economic damage inflicted by the restrictions placed on shipping in the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation since early last year, tensions culminated on November 25th. Russia must refrain from these negative practices.

We encourage the Ukrainian government to continue implementing its important reform process, for the prosperity and for the well-being of the Ukrainian people.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands will continue to support these reform efforts bilaterally, through the UN, and through other international institutions.

My third point, this conflict is taking a toll on the international legal order.

In Ukraine, our international rulebook is in jeopardy.

The illegal annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing, destabilising role of Russia in Donbass go directly against article 2, paragraph 4 of the UN Charter: the prohibition of the use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of any state.

I underline the words by my German colleague on the Budapest Memorandum.

Like others, I therefore reiterate our strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

It is high time the resolutions adopted by this General Assembly confirming the territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine are to be implemented.

Let me personally highlight the UNGA resolution 68/262 from 2014 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Let me end by reiterating that sustainable peace and stability in the region will only be possible if and when the Russian Federation returns to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

Thank you madame President.