The UN General Assembly, meeting in a special session, approved this Thursday by a large majority the second non-binding resolution on the war in Ukraine. It is an initiative, described as humanitarian, which asks Russia for “the immediate cessation of hostilities against Ukraine and especially any attack against civilians and civilian targets”, as well as the end of the siege of the port city of Mariupol. Of the 193 members that make up the plenary, the resolution has been adopted by 140 and rejected by five (Russia, Syria, Eritrea, Belarus and North Korea), while 38 have abstained. The rest of the Member States have been absent. The text had been drafted for weeks by France and Mexico, with the full support of Ukraine.
The result of the vote has been practically the same as that registered on March 2, when the General Assembly, meeting in extraordinary session – the 11th in its 70-year history, and the first since Israel occupied the Syrian Golan, in 1982 —, ruled on the conflict to overcome the blockage derived from the Security Council’s veto system, whose resolutions do have a binding nature. The fact that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN executive forum, can block any initiative moved the Assembly the urgency to raise its voice on the Ukrainian war, which this Thursday enters its second month. The resolution of March 2 was a condemnation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, although nuanced: to garner more support, the final text replaced the word “condemn” with “deplore”. The same countries that today rejected the Franco-Mexican initiative voted against it. The day before, this Wednesday, Russia received another setback when it saw its own proposal for a “humanitarian resolution” rejected in the Security Council, where it only received the support of China, and 13 votes against.
Despite having a lower, purely declarative, range than the Security Council resolutions, it has not been easy for the organization’s plenary to carry out this “humanitarian resolution” either. South Africa presented its own draft on Wednesday, which did not cite Russia as an aggressor, and that is why it received the support of the Kremlin’s ambassador, Vasili Nebenzia. The argument put forward by the South African ambassador for not citing Russia in the text was the need to “depoliticize” humanitarian issues.
The Assembly has shown itself to be mired in procedural issues, rather than substance, in proposing a vote on whether to put to the vote the South African resolution, which Ukraine’s ambassador, Sergii Kislitsia, called a “placebo, generic drug, private label ( …) provided by a large supplier”, referring to Russia; “an attempt to confuse the Assembly.” The vote on the South African proposal resulted in a more divided opinion: 50 in favor, 67 against and 36 abstentions. There was no applause, unlike some rather timid applause who greeted the passage of the main resolution.
Installed in a frenzy of meetings since the first minutes of the war – the official announcement of the Kremlin of a “special military operation in Ukraine” occurred during a meeting of the Security Council -, the UN has not succeeded in promoting an executive resolution. If it has taken weeks to launch the “humanitarian resolution” of France and Mexico, the possibility of advancing in practice seems distant, despite the intense diplomatic activity “to resume the path of dialogue and negotiations”, once a ceasefire has been achieved. , according to the text of the resolution approved this Thursday. Secretary-General António Guterres “has been in frequent contact with the Russian envoy, but will not reveal details, except to say that the discussions focus on humanitarian aid in Ukraine,” according to a spokesman. Any siege of a city greatly complicates the provision of humanitarian aid, recalls the resolution.
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