'No winners at war': UNGA calls for immediate ceasefire at Ukraine, full return to diplomacy, dialogue

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.

Published: 28th February 2022 09:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th February 2022 09:32 PM   |  A+A-

Refugees fleeing conflict from neighboring Ukraine arrive to Zahony, Hungary. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

UNITED NATIONS: 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.

Russian nuclear forces being put on high alert is a "chilling development" and the mere idea of a nuclear conflict is simply inconceivable, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Monday, voicing hope that direct talks between Ukraine and Russia will produce an immediate halt to the fighting.

"The fighting in Ukraine must stop. It is raging across the country, from air, land and sea. It must stop now," Guterres told a rare emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Ukraine.

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 aggression against Ukraine.

President of the 76th session of the General Assembly Abdulla Shahid presided over the unprecedented session, 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.

Escalating tensions, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear forces be put on high alert, a development that drastically raised fears and concerns the crisis could lead to a nuclear war.

"We are facing a tragedy for Ukraine, but also a major regional crisis with potentially disastrous implications for us all. Yesterday, Russian nuclear forces were put on high alert. This is a chilling development," Guterres said.

"The mere idea of a nuclear conflict is simply inconceivable. Nothing can justify the use of nuclear weapons," he 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, Guterres hoped that the direct talks between the two sides "will produce not only an immediate halt to the fighting, but also a path towards a diplomatic solution."

"The guns are talking now, but the path of dialogue must always remain open. It is never too late to engage in good-faith negotiations and to address all issues peacefully," he said.

Guterres said that the escalating violence, resulting in civilian deaths, including children, is totally unacceptable.

"Enough is enough. Soldiers need to move back to their barracks. Leaders need to move to peace. Civilians must be protected," he said.

He asserted that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, must be respected.

"The attack on Ukraine challenges international law and the multilateral system rooted in the UN Charter. Some of the possible consequences of a worsening conflict are terrifying to contemplate. Regional tensions are rising," he said.

Guterres told the General Assembly that although Russian strikes are reportedly largely targeting Ukrainian military facilities, the UN has "credible accounts" of residential buildings, critical civilian infrastructure and other non-military targets sustaining heavy damage.

He also voiced concern that the world faces what could easily become Europe's "worst humanitarian and refugee crisis" in decades, with the numbers of refugees and internally displaced people multiplying by the minute.

While expressing gratitude for the compassion, generosity and solidarity of Ukraine's neighbors who are taking in those seeking safety, Guterres appealed that this solidarity is extended without any discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity.

Highlighting the actions being taken to combat the crisis, Guterres said he has allocated USD 20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to support emergency operations along the contact line in the eastern oblasts of Donetska and Luhanska and in other parts of the country.

This measure will allow the organisation to help more vulnerable people get the basics -- shelter, food, water and health care.

Guterres also appointed Amin Awad as the UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, who liaise with the Government and all relevant actors on the ground -- supported by the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Country Team.

The UN will launch two coordinated emergency appeals for Ukraine and the region, one that addresses escalating humanitarian needs inside the country, including rising internal displacement and another that responds to the needs of people crossing international borders to seek refuge in countries neighboring Ukraine.

"We need to focus on solving problems, not making them worse. In cities around the world, people are taking to the streets and demanding an end to war. People in Ukraine want and need peace.



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