General Assembly Debate: agenda item 63: Situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine - PR UN New York

"General Assembly Debate: agenda item 63: Situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine”

Statement by Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations.

NEW YORK, 20 February 2020.

Mr President,

I would like to align myself 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 honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for his statement and for the timely efforts to put the spotlight on the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

Six years have passed since the start of the Russian Federation’s violation of international law in Ukraine. It has taken a heavy toll, on many parties.

Mr President,

I will make three points:

  1. Our concern for suffering of the people of Ukraine.
  2. Secondly, our concern for the international legal order.
  3. My third point Flight MH17.
  1. Suffering of the people of Ukraine

The human suffering as a result of this conflict must end. In six years, more than fourteen thousand lives have been lost. Many more innocent civilians have been wounded, 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 to provide assistance wherever possible. We also thank the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission for its important work .

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

Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly. Let me underline the point of our Estonian colleague on the special challenges LGTBI persons face there.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands urgently calls on the Russian Federation to respect human rights on the Crimean peninsula for all and to allow full access of human rights monitors.

It is important that the OHCHR continues to remotely monitor the human right situation also in those areas not currently controlled by the Ukrainian government. The world must know what is happening.

We have followed recent developments in the Normandy Four format closely. We underline the importance of continuing dialogue. This conflict can only be solved politically. The Kingdom of the Netherlands calls on all sides to fully implement their responsibilities under the Minsk agreements. All sides should show their full commitment to attaining a real political resolution of this conflict. We are deeply concerned by this Tuesday peak of violence from the side of the Russia-backed armed formations, that pose a clear violation of the ceasefire agreed upon 5 years ago in Minsk. The violations of the ceasefire – which continue to lead to the loss of lives - must stop.

In 2019 the people of Ukraine clearly confirmed their desire to strengthen the ongoing reform process. We welcome the strong commitment President’s Zelenskyy’s has shown in this regard. We commend the important progress that has been made and encourage further reforms. This is instrumental in making Ukraine prosperous and more resilient.

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

  1. International legal order

Secondly, I wish to underline our concern for the effects of this conflict on the international legal order; in Ukraine, our collective 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.

As others have done today, the Kingdom of the Netherlands reiterates its strong commitment to the sovereignty, the political independence, the unity and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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

  1. MH17

Thirdly and finally, I would like to address Flight MH17, that was shot down over the east of Ukraine on 17th July 2014. This terrible tragedy caused the death of 298 innocent civilians from 17 different countries, including 196 of my compatriots. Since that day the Netherlands has called for truth, justice and accountability, together with many international partners. The Security Council adopted Resolution 2166 on July 21st 2014. That is what the victims, their families and their loved ones deserve. That is what the world demands.

On 9 March this year the criminal trial against four suspects for their role in the downing of flight MH17 will start in the Netherlands. This follows years of investigation by the competent authorities of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, represented in the Joint Investigation Team. The start of the criminal trial is a very important step towards finding the truth, establishing justice and holding those responsible to account. 

At the same time the criminal investigation will continue. We call upon all countries, including the Russian Federation, to fully cooperate with the criminal investigation, in line with UNSC resolution 2166.

We will continue to inform the Security Council of relevant developments pertaining to MH17, as we did in the past.

Mr President,

let me reiterate 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 Mr President.