MR. MIROSLAV JENČA
ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR
EUROPE, CENTRAL ASIA AND THE AMERICAS
DEPARTMENTS FOR POLITICAL & PEACEBUILDING AFFAIRS
AND PEACE OPERATIONS
Remarks at the Security Council on International Peace and Security
17 February 2023
We are meeting today exactly one week ahead of the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While we witnessed immense suffering and destruction over the past year, today is also a reminder that the armed conflict in Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014.
Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, briefed the Council on this same topic exactly one year ago. She warned about the increasing tensions around Ukraine and reminded all concerned on the urgent need to make full use of the existing frameworks to prevent an escalation.
The members of the Security Council are aware that the United Nations in the previous eight years has not been formally part of any mechanism related to the peace process in Ukraine, such as the Normandy Format. The United Nations was not invited to be a participant in the various negotiations in Minsk, or to the 2014 and 2015 agreements themselves. Nor was the United Nations involved in the implementation efforts led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Trilateral Contact Group.
Those directly involved in the process and its implementation are better placed to assess the achievements and challenges in managing this process. Its intensity was reflected by the efforts entailed in numerous meetings and discussions, including at the leader’s level in the Normandy Format, as well as regular meetings of the working groups of the Trilateral Contact Group covering political, security, humanitarian and economic issues that fell under the agreements.
Despite not having any formal role in the Minsk framework, over the years the United Nations has consistently and fully supported the implementation of the Minsk agreements and related measures, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2202 and the Presidential Statement of 6 June 2018.
The United Nations has repeatedly expressed its full political support to all involved in the Normandy Format and other diplomatic efforts. In line with Chapter VIII of the Charter, the UN has offered support, when requested and where appropriate, to some of the Working Groups under the OSCE-led Trilateral Contact Group.
Similarly, the United Nations has shared its global practices and provided expert support to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission in eastern Ukraine, including with regards to issues related to ceasefire monitoring, women peace and security as well as other areas. On the ground, the UN Country Team has continuously coordinated with the Special Monitoring Mission on security, humanitarian and human rights access-related issues in non-Government-controlled areas in order to provide assistance to all communities in need. We remain grateful for the OSCE’s cooperation in this regard.
At the same time, throughout this entire period and to date, the United Nations has remained consistent in its principled support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, in line with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.
The outbreak of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014 was, up to February of last year, the biggest test the OSCE had faced in its existence. Similarly, the response of the Organization was unprecedented and deserves recognition.
Since its establishment, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, through its team of more than one thousand monitors, provided critical information on ceasefire violations on the ground in accordance with its mandate, to maintain dialogue, reduce tensions and prevent further escalation. I wish to pay tribute to the important work, often under very challenging conditions, of the SMM’s leadership and staff before it discontinued its operations.
Despite the even bigger challenges brought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and the worsening of tensions across the region, the OSCE remains an essential actor for European security. In this regard, I would like to recall that in its resolution ES-11/4 of 12 October 2022, the General Assembly called upon Member States, and international organizations, including the OSCE, to support the de-escalation of the current situation and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, with respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter, the United Nations continues to work in a complementary way with all regional organizations and mechanisms that were created to deal with security challenges, including the OSCE across the Eurasia region.
Long before the situation in Ukraine evolved into the present tragedy, the United Nations stressed the importance of political will by all sides and at the same time cautioned all relevant actors about the dangers of complacency regarding the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and the risks of keeping the conflict unresolved.
The United Nations has also used all opportunities, including before this Council, to urge all sides to avoid any unilateral steps that could deepen the divide or depart from the spirit and letter of the Agreements.
In his remarks to the Security Council open debate on Conflicts in Europe, the Secretary-General warned against taking European peace and prosperity for granted. He also stated that “Until peace agreements are signed and implemented, the risk of renewed violence remains.”
This is also what we have learned from the experience of the Minsk process: Peace is not just about signing an agreement. We need sustainable and implementable peace that addresses the root causes of the conflict and is in line with the UN Charter and international law. This is particularly important given the complexity of the current context in Ukraine, but also with regards to its implications for the future of the European security architecture and indeed, the international order itself.
Achieving sustainable peace requires an inclusive, transparent and meaningful process, supported by a viable framework which is currently missing. Any genuine process should come with the full and equal participation of women and take into consideration the views of the broader population and civil society.
As the Secretary-General has reiterated, the United Nations is ready to support all meaningful efforts to bring peace to Ukraine, in line with the Charter and international law.