The lives of 115 colleagues who lost their lives between the beginning of last year and the end of March, serving the United Nations, were honoured on Monday at the annual Memorial Service for Fallen Staff, in New York.
The lives of 115 colleagues who lost their lives between the beginning of last year and the end of March, serving the United Nations, were honoured on Monday at the annual Memorial Service for Fallen Staff, in New York.
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, is following with “deep concern” the latest developments across the Gaza-Israeli border and urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint. Over the weekend, hundreds of rockets were launched from the Occupied Palestinian Territory into southern Israel, and Israel retaliated with hundreds of airstrikes and tank fire.
The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, is “deeply concerned by yet another dangerous escalation in Gaza and the tragic loss of life”. According to news reports, approximately 200 rockets were fired on Saturday from the Occupied Palestinian Territory towards Israel, and various Israeli airstrikes and tank fire were carried out in retaliation.
"I am deeply concerned by yet another dangerous escalation in Gaza and the tragic loss of life. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all those who were killed, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured.
The United Nations is working with Egypt and all sides to calm the situation. I call on all parties to immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months. Those...
“The militia forbade me to cry otherwise they would behead me” - the sombre words of a ten-year-old girl caught up in the years’ long conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one story which features in a new UN photo exhibition in the United States, called Caught in Conflict.
This Friday, we cover: a worrying food crisis in the Democratic Republic of North Korea; attacks against civilians in DR Congo; outrage after the execution of child offenders in Iran; concerns over a super cereal distributed by the World Food Programme; and post-electoral violence in Benin.
This Thursday, top stories includes: the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day and World Tuna Day, events for inter-cultural dialogue in Azerbaijan and for Global Goals awards in Germany, and updates from Syria, Somalia and Mali.
The UN has said it is “gravely concerned” over reports of a worsening humanitarian situation facing civilians across northwest Syria, with rising casualties, and “waves of displacement” due to intensifying conflict.
With another day of mass protests taking place across Venezuela, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Wednesday it was “extremely worried by reports of the excessive use of force” by security forces, loyal to President Nicolás Maduro, a day after an opposition-led uprising appeared to stall.
With murderous attacks against religious institutions on the rise, leaders across the world need to do more to end “political opportunism” and policies which allow hate speech and violent extremism to flourish, said the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on Wednesday.
The United Nations security force for Abyei remains essential to stability in the border regions between Sudan and South Sudan, the UN peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday, proposing the creation of a civilian unit to support progress towards political resolution of the dispute between the neighboring countries, and requesting a six-month extension of its mandate.
Thank you for this opportunity to brief this Council for the second time. I have spent the last eight weeks shuttling between the Syrian Government and opposition and consulting key players.
I am doing everything I can to move forward on rebuilding trust and confidence, opening the door to a political process, in Geneva, between the Syrian government and the opposition– a process that can begin to build a new future for all Syrians - women and men - and between Syria and the international community.
After eight years of conflict, this process will be long and difficult – but I think it is possible to move forward step by step. To this end, I have been seeking to advance the five priorities I outlined to this Council in February. These are grounded in a comprehensive approach to my mandate in Security Council resolution 2254.
I remain absolutely committed to engaging the Syrian Government and the Syrian Negotiations Commission in a sustained comprehensive dialogue. This is the very foundation of a Syrian-led and owned process, in line with resolution 2254 and in full respect for Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity.
In March and April I engaged in positive shuttle consultations between them. Foreign Minister Moallem hosted me twice in Damascus. He showed positive spirit and we were able to move certain subjects along.
I also met twice with the Syrian Negotiations Commission leadership, in Riyadh and Geneva. They too showed positive spirit and this enabled us to advance the issues.
In both sets of interactions, I stressed the importance of working on the full range of issues in resolution 2254. I stressed the need to make a tangible difference to Syrians’ lives. Both the government and opposition remained open to discussing a broader range of issues.
It is my hope that this regular engagement can continue to build trust and confidence. I hope it can evolve into a sustained dialogue towards building a safe, calm and neutral environment and “win the peace”.
This has also been my message to international stakeholders in recent weeks.
But let me reiterate: action and tangible progress not just dialogue is needed. I need not remind you: the situation for Syrians remains dire.
We have seen a very troubling surge of violence in recent weeks, in and around the Idlib de-escalation zone, including causing civilian casualties and further displacement. I welcome the recommitment of the Astana players to fully implement the Idlib memorandum, including through coordinated patrols.
But more must be done. De-escalation must be cemented. Idlib is not the only part of Syria that remains heavily militarized, or where Syrians continue to suffer.
The situation in the north-east is calmer, for now, but underlying dynamics remain unresolved. We have also received reports of growing tensions and violence in the south-west.
Syria still contains many threats for renewed escalation or even threats to international peace and security. Let me recall that resolution 2254 speaks of a nationwide ceasefire.
Terrorist groups listed by this Council remain a major threat: only last week, ISIL claimed attacks on Syrian government forces in the desert. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham still controls large swathes of territory.
I stress, however, the Secretary-General’s reminder that counter-terrorism operations cannot override the responsibilities to protect civilians.
Even where violence has abated, the toll of suffering remains staggering. There is a desperate need to meet the humanitarian and protection needs of Syrians across the country.
And suffering is not limited to refugees and displaced people. Millions of Syrians inside face a critical lack of commodities, including fuel, approaching crisis-levels.
Let me highlight the terrible situation for the 73 000 people in al Hol, 92% of which are women and children. Humanitarian needs and protection concerns remain acute.
I remain deeply concerned about the situation in Rukban. We continue to pursue principled and durable solutions, in coordination with all stakeholders. Most civilians who have recently left have been able to relocate from temporary shelters.
Most residents of Rukban remain in the settlement and are, indeed, in dire need of assistance, including food and essential medicines.
The deployment of a third humanitarian convoy to Rukban remains urgent in order to avoid further suffering of more people in the camp.
As I have remarked to all stakeholders the more we can see steps to address these issues I speak of, in coordination with the United Nations, the more this can help to build confidence within Syria and internationally.
I have particularly raised the need, in-depth, for concrete action on the release of detainees/abductees and the clarification of the fate of missing persons, with the Syrian Government and indeed the opposition.
Meaningful progress on this key humanitarian file would send a positive signal to Syrians. It would be an important confidence building measure. I appreciated the openness to consider more meaningful action.
In parallel with my bilateral engagements, my office participated in Moscow and Nur-Sultan in two further meetings of the Working Group on the subject, the Working Group consisting of Iran, Russia, Turkey and the UN, with the ICRC also in attendance. I am ready to host the next meeting of the Working Group in Geneva.
The Working Group was able to bring about the release of a small group of detainees and abductees in northern Syria on 22 April. For the first time, members of my team were present on the ground as observers. This enabled us to make an assessment of how the operation was conducted and to share recommendations with the Working Group.
My team’s observations contained some positive elements. However, there is considerable room for improvement in terms of procedures to be followed during future release operations, consistent with International Humanitarian Law.
We need to scale up and speed up the release of detainees/abductees, particularly vulnerable ones such as women, children, elderly, and sick. The Syrian Government and opposition should ensure the detainees/abductees’ protection prior to and following their release. They should move away from the one-for-one exchange framework. They should address this issue at scale.
The fate of tens of thousands of persons who have gone missing since the beginning of the conflict must be clarified. My Office, in close coordination with the ICRC, is elaborating procedures for compiling, consolidating, safeguarding, and exchanging information, as well as undertaking searches for missing persons.
The scale of this issue is of unprecedented proportions. It obliges us to continue our collective attempt to make progress. It will require months, if not years of meticulous and committed work.
For any political solution to be durable it must meet the aspirations of the Syrian people. I have made it a priority to engage a wide spectrum of Syrians in recent weeks. In calling for concrete action, I have in mind these many Syrian voices - from refugees in neighbouring countries, to people living in shelters in Homs.
The terrible scale of Syrians’ suffering and the uncertain future of millions, weighs heavily on me, as it should on us all. And I believe that most will judge a political process on its ability to deliver improvements on the ground and take into consideration the needs and priorities of all Syrians, men and women.
I strongly believe in the importance of engaging a wide range of Syrian interlocutors. I intend to further my outreach and engagement with Syrian refugees, civil society, women organisations and other Syrian actors, including through the Civil Society Support Room.
The Women’s Advisory Board continues to remind us of the specific security, economic and human rights concerns of Syrian women - women who bring diverse experiences and views to the table and share the right to have a voice at the table.
Clearly, much hope is placed on finally convening a constitutional committee. It could be a first sign of real movement. It could, if approached in the right spirit, help unlock a broader political process - towards UN-supervised elections, in a safe calm and neutral environment.
I continue to work towards a final agreement on the composition and terms of reference of a credible, balanced, inclusive and viable constitutional committee. Many earlier differences have indeed been narrowed down.
While nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, we have a clear understanding on: balanced co-chairing arrangements; a formula for decision-making; a shared acceptance of the UN facilitation role; and a political commitment to the safety and security of all who will be involved.
Both the Syrian Government and opposition have been constructive on these points, and I thank them. I believe the final terms of the mandate can be agreed with a modicum of goodwill.
It is now agreed that six specific names, on the earlier so-called civil society list, need to be removed. Work continues to identify a set of names that, when viewed in totality, can have the support of all concerned, that can enhance the quality and credibility of the list, while striving to achieve the objective of at least 30% female participants.
These are all elements that I believe are now possible. I have expended a lot of effort to build buy in for the way forward on this. If everyone is prepared to compromise just a little, this can move.
For my fifth priority, I spoke of deepening international dialogue on Syria. Yes, a credible and sustainable political settlement must be Syrian-led and owned. Yet the process and its outcome must enjoy international support and legitimacy.
And this conflict is highly internationalized. External intervention is a hard reality of the conflict. Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, must be respected and restored – but saying so will not make it so.
In this context, let me reiterate, that the UN’s position regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, will continue to be determined by the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on this issue. I will discharge my mandate in full respect for Syria’s sovereignty unity, independence and territorial integrity, as per resolution 2254.
External intervention poses real threats to international peace and security. Five international armies operate across Syria’s land and airspace, in tension or even in conflict, generating risks for dangerous escalation. These risks must be contained and ultimately removed.
Different formats exist at present, as expressions of international cooperation, on resolving the Syrian conflict. I had useful conversations with the Astana guarantors in Nur-Sultan on 25-26 April. I will hold formal consultations with them in May in Geneva. This Friday I will also consult with the members of the Small Group in Geneva.
I remain convinced that key international players agree on far more than it might seem. I believe that all understand the need for international cooperation on Syria. I will continue to use my good offices to help the key players with influence to join in one active conversation, to provide a common support to a Syrian-led and owned political process under UN facilitation.
As we approach agreement on the constitutional committee, I want to use the opportunity to see revitalized broad-based international cooperation. To realise my mandate, a common forum supporting Geneva must be found.
I believe we are making progress. I hope that next time I brief you, I will be able to report tangible achievements on the long road to a political settlement of the conflict in Syria.
It will take “action and tangible progress” between Syrian Government and opposition leaders, not just dialogue, to bring about lasting peace said the UN Special Envoy for the war-torn country on Tuesday, stressing that Syria “contains many threats for renewed escalation”.
Strengthening both security and the Ebola response effort is essential to contain the growing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UN health agency’s officials said on Tuesday, following a visit to the epicentre of what is already the worst outbreak in the country’s history.
Since fighting broke out on the edge of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, earlier this month, over 42,000 people have been displaced and thousands are believed trapped in the city’s southern outskirts. As UN humanitarian teams work around the clock to provide life-saving assistance, human rights chief Michelle Bachelet stressed on Tuesday the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, and humanitarian corridor for civilians.
The United Nations has launched its second annual report for the year 2018 on the implementation of the UN Strategic Framework for Lebanon...
The UN is “continuing to address the humanitarian, economic and political crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” but efforts are continually undermined by the lack of any political progress towards a two-State solution, said the head of UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) on Monday.
A “disturbing groundswell” of hate-based violence and intolerance aimed at religious devotees across all faiths, must be countered soon before it’s too late, the United Nations Secretary-General said on Monday, noting murderous attacks in just the past few days on a synagogue in California, and a church in Burkina Faso.
A “disturbing groundswell” of hate-based violence and intolerance aimed at worshippers across all faiths, must be countered soon before it’s too late, the United Nations Secretary-General said on Monday, noting murderous attacks in just the past few days on a synagogue in California, and a church in Burkina Faso.
Top stories this Monday includes: 10 million people could die every year due to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria; 300,000 Venezuelan children in Colombia need humanitarian aid; civilians continue to be under fire in Libya; and a summit to tackle hate speech.
I would like to begin by paying tribute, on behalf of the entire UN family, to Major General Francis Vib-Sanziri, the UNDOF Head of Mission and Force Commander, who passed away suddenly on 19 April. His leadership, dedication and enthusiasm were invaluable in commanding UNDOF under difficult circumstances. He will be remembered for his exemplary career in the service of UN peacekeeping.
We meet today as the United Nations continues to advance efforts to address the continued humanitarian, economic and political crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Yet the continuing absence of a political solution to the broader conflict undermines and compounds our efforts.
Under the pressure of violence, settlement expansion, unilateral measures, intra-Palestinian divisions and deepening mutual mistrust, the prospects for a just and lasting peace remains ever more elusive.
Hopes for the realization of a two-state solution continue to be replaced by the rising fears of future annexation. The possibility of establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian state continues to be eroded by facts on the ground.
The United Nations has repeatedly warned that the conflict cannot be managed in perpetuity. The status quo will only lead to further deterioration of the situation, radicalization on all sides, more suffering and conflict.
Before addressing recent developments on the ground, I would like to congratulate Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh on the formation of a new Palestinian government. I wish him every success and urge all Palestinian factions and political leaders to work together, in good faith, to unify Gaza and the West Bank under a single, legitimate Palestinian government.
I also want to congratulate the Israeli people for their democratic general election on 9 April. On 17 April President Rivlin asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to form a new government. We stand ready to continue working with the new government when it is formed.
The prolonged absence of a political solution to the conflict has coincided with the steady deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
During the reporting period, Israeli authorities advanced at least 2,100 housing units in Area C settlements and issued tenders for some 950 additional units. One of the plans advanced would retroactively regularize, under Israeli law, the illegal outpost of Haresha by incorporating it into the existing Talmon settlement.
Settlements have no legal effect and constitute a violation of international law.
Demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures also continued across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Israeli authorities demolished or seized 37 structures, displacing 49 people, on the grounds of lacking Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
In addition, on 31 March, the Israeli District Court rejected three appeals challenging demolition orders submitted by Palestinian residents of the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
The situation at Jerusalem’s Holy Sites has remained relatively calm in the past month. I would like to take the opportunity of the overlapping holidays of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to wish peace and prosperity for the peoples of Palestine and Israel, but also to urge sustained calm, particularly in the Holy Sites, which can only be achieved by respecting the status quo and relevant agreements.
Regrettably, the cycle of violence continues.
On 30 March, Palestinians in Gaza marked the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” protests, which was commemorated by 50,000 Palestinians demonstrating at the perimeter fence. While the vast majority of protesters remained peaceful, a small number ignored the calls for restraint and engaged in acts of violence against Israel and attempted to breach the fence.
During the reporting period, 7 Palestinians, including 4 children, were killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and 1,316 were injured.
I reiterate the previous calls by the UN that children should never be the target of violence nor should they be put at risk of violence or encouraged to participate in violence. I also reiterate the call on Israel that lethal force should only be used in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury and as a last resort.
During the reporting period, Palestinian militants fired 30 rockets and mortars from Gaza towards Israel. The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli civilian populations is prohibited by international humanitarian law and must immediately cease. Several incendiary balloons were also launched from Gaza into Southern Israel. These must stop. Hamas must also ensure that protests remain peaceful and prevent provocations near the fence, including attempts to breach it.
Meanwhile in the West Bank, 2 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces, and 64 were injured, including 18 children.
On 27 March, a 17-year old Palestinian paramedic was shot by the ISF near al-Duheisha Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, and later died of his wounds. The shooting occurred during clashes following two ISF arrest operations in the camp earlier that day.
Settler-related violence also continued during the reporting period. According to OCHA one Palestinian was killed, and 16 were injured or had their property damaged by settlers. On 3 April, two Israeli civilians opened fire in Nablus, injuring two Palestinians, including a 23-year-old man who died later in hospital.
On 24 April, following the arrest, tying and blindfolding of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy for allegations of stone-throwing, IDF soldiers shot him twice in his lower body as he attempted to escape while still blindfolded. The IDF stated it was responding to "massive stone throwing" and one of the “the rioters” was shot as he tried to flee after being arrested.
In the same period, OCHA recorded 14 Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers and other Israeli civilians in the West Bank, where Palestinians threw stones at vehicles traveling on roads near Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah. One injury and damage to 13 vehicles were reported.
The reporting period also saw a worsening Palestinian financial crisis. Despite the austerity measures announced and the recent pledges of support by Arab States, the risk of a financial collapse of the Palestinian Authority is growing.
A sustainable resolution of the PA’s funding crisis is urgently required. Both parties should address the causes of the crisis through dialogue, implement their bilateral agreements and avoid taking unilateral actions that undermine stability and security for both Palestinians and Israelis alike.
I urge the members of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) to use its meeting tomorrow in Brussels to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resolve this crisis that threatens the viability of the PA.
I would like to turn to the ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis in Gaza and begin by highlighting the plight of women. 70% of all women in Gaza today are unemployed. As a result, female-headed households are more likely to face poverty and food insecurity. Moreover, we know that poverty and lack of economic opportunities are key drivers behind violence against women in Gaza. The United Nations continues to provide assistance to Palestinian women and girls across a broad range of areas but much more needs to be done to ensure that their needs are addressed.
The United Nations is also making important progress on the implementation of a package of urgent humanitarian and economic interventions in order to stabilize the situation in Gaza, prevent an escalation, lift the closures, and support Egyptian-led reconciliation efforts.
Over the past year, nearly USD 110 million for fuel, health, water, sanitation and temporary employment programmes has been raised. The UN and its partners have mobilized nearly USD 45 million that will allow for the creation of approximately 20,000 temporary jobs in 2019.
Since September, approximately USD 4.6 million in support to the Humanitarian Response Plan has contributed to the delivery of essential drugs and the performance of some 9,500 emergency surgeries.
I also welcome Qatar’s extension of funding for the UN to procure and deliver fuel to the Gaza Power Plant until June.
In a positive development, on 1 April, Israel extended some areas of the Gaza fishing zone up to 15 nautical miles. I welcome this decision and strongly urge that the rest of the fishing zone, which remains limited to 6 to 12 nautical miles, also be expanded.
As we consistently reiterate, at its core the crisis in Gaza is political. Significant progress on the lifting of the closures and advancing intra-Palestinian reconciliation remain essential.
I reiterate my call on all Palestinian factions to engage in earnest with Egypt on reconciliation efforts. I also take this opportunity to thank Member States that have supported the implementation of the AHLC projects to date and urge others to contribute to this important effort, including through critical financial support to the Programme Management Unit, as well as for the Humanitarian Response Plan.
Turning to the situation in the region, Lebanon remains stable, with continued commitment of political actors to dialogue leading to Parliamentary approval of its long-awaited plan to reform the electricity sector. Discussions continue on the 2019 budget, as proposed public sector pay cuts spark protests. Significantly, Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander General Joseph Aoun visited UNIFIL and southern Lebanon on 24 April, with Minister Bou Saab stating that the Lebanese Armed Forces would increase troop deployment in southern Lebanon.
The situation in southern Lebanon and along the Blue Line remained calm. On 2 April, UNIFIL chaired a regular Tripartite meeting attended by senior delegations from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
On 17 April, a UNIFIL team of technical experts assessed the tunnel located south of the Blue Line near the Israeli town of Zarit, the discovery of which had been announced by the IDF on 13 January. UNIFIL concluded that the tunnel crossed the Blue Line and thereby constituted a violation of resolution 1701. The following day, the UNIFIL Force Commander informed the Commander of Lebanese Armed Forces and Minister of Defence Elias Bou Saab, of UNIFIL’s findings and requested urgent follow-up.
UNIFIL has now confirmed the existence of five tunnels, three of which it has confirmed cross the Blue Line and constitute a violation of resolution 1701.
Turning to the Golan, on 25 March, US President Donald Trump signed an official proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan. As previously noted by the Secretary-General, the UN position on the Golan is clear: it is reflected in the relevant UN resolutions, notably Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 497 (1981).
The ceasefire between Israel and Syria has been maintained with relative calm and low levels of military activity in the areas of separation and limitation on the Bravo side.
UNDOF continued to observe and hear a relatively low level of small arms firing in the areas of separation and limitation on the Bravo side. UNDOF assessed that the firing was due to training activities conducted by Syrian security forces. UNDOF also continued to observe the presence of Syrian Arab Armed Forces in different locations in the area of separation, including in the vicinity of UN positions.
Yesterday, UNDOF assisted by the ICRC facilitated the transfer of two Syrian men who had been detained in Israel for a number of years. Also, the remains of an IDF soldier, missing since 1982, were repatriated from Syria to Israel after being located with the assistance of Russian forces.
Regarding the conflict in Syria, the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, continues his efforts to find a negotiated political solution to the conflict. He is working with all sides and is making steady progress on launching a credible, balanced and inclusive constitutional committee as a door opener to a wider political process, which embraces the full implementation of all elements of resolution 2254. He will brief the Council on these efforts tomorrow.
As we mobilize in each crisis to address the critical needs of the Palestinian population, be it in Gaza or the West Bank, we shall not lose sight of the core political issue, namely the prospect of two peaceful and secure states living side by side in harmony. This imperative compels us all to work with the parties, bring them back to the negotiation table and urge them to avoid unilateral actions that undermine the prospect for peace. Only determined action by the parties themselves can salvage the two-state solution.
Otherwise, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to live their lives knowing only conflict, mistrust and fear, rather than the infinite possibilities that would come with a just and lasting peace.
Finally, I would like to thank EcoPeace for joining us for today’s debate. Their commendable efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian collaboration around shared environmental challenges are exemplary. I welcome the ongoing commitment by Member States to generously support and bring attention to such initiatives.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Justice can be hard to come by in countries hit by conflict. To ensure that communities can settle disputes, and see criminals lawfully punished, UN peacekeeping missions support mobile courts, which travel to places where no regular court exists.
The UN’s political affairs chief has urged all parties to the peace plan protocol for eastern Ukraine known as the Minsk Agreements, to avoid “any unilateral steps” that could undermine efforts to demilitarize the eastern conflict zone.
On 21 April, millions of Ukrainians exercised their democratic right to choose their next President. We commend the Ukrainian people on the peaceful conduct of the election and take note of the assessment of the electoral process by the international and domestic observer groups, including OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
The United Nations, including through its presence in Ukraine, is committed to continue working with the Ukrainian authorities and the people of Ukraine, in particular to support the provision of humanitarian assistance, the promotion and safeguarding of human rights, and the country’s critical reform process.
Both the recent election and today’s Council meeting have been taking place in the shadow of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, many of whose residents were unable to exercise their democratic rights and continue to face the daily challenges associated with an active conflict.
A lasting and durable ceasefire remains an urgent priority. In this regard, we regret the inconclusive discussions on a new ceasefire recommitment on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter, during yesterday’s meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk. We commend the efforts of the OSCE representatives and join their calls for agreement on this important issue, without delay. We also recall that the implementation of a lasting ceasefire should be accompanied by withdrawal of heavy weapons from populated areas, disengagement of forces and protection of civilians and of critical civilian infrastructure.
ASG Mueller will brief in detail on the current humanitarian needs and the UN’s ongoing efforts on the ground. As a matter of principle, I wish to reiterate that it is essential that the UN’s humanitarian work is not politicized or instrumentalized by any party.
Today’s Council meeting also takes place in the context of the Russian presidential decree of 24 April, which reportedly makes it possible for residents of certain regions of Eastern Ukraine to obtain Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. According to the decree, the decision has been made, and I quote, "with a view to protecting human and citizens’ rights and freedoms, and guided by the universally recognized principles and norms of international lawWith a view to protecting human and citizens’ rights and freedoms, and guided by the universally recognised principles and norms of international law”. It was welcomed by the entities in control in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
Reacting to this latest development, the Ukrainian authorities strongly protested the decree as an unprecedented interference by the Russian Federation in the country’s internal affairs and a violation of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, contrary to the Minsk agreements.
In its resolution 2202, unanimously adopted on 17 February 2015, this Council endorsed the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, calling on all parties to fully implement the Measures. In its Presidential statement of 6 June 2018, this Council again unanimously reaffirmed the centrality of the Minsk Agreements.
The United Nations expects that the spirit and the letter of the Minsk agreements will be respected by all concerned. To that end, we urge all parties to avoid any unilateral steps that may potentially undermine the implementation of these agreements and to address concerns through constructive dialogue in the existing negotiation formats.
Most recently, on 12 February 2019, this Council held a special session focusing on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and on the ongoing conflict.
As was noted during our last Council briefing, the United Nations continues to fully support the lead efforts of the Normandy Four, Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE to reach a peaceful solution to this five-year conflict.
Since their signing, the Normandy Four and participants in the Trilateral Contact Group, as well as this Council, have devoted considerable attention to promote the need for full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Regrettably, progress has stalled.
Following the recent election in Ukraine, these efforts need to continue with greater resolve and urgency. We expect all concerned to act in accordance with the Minsk Agreements and once again reiterate the need for revitalizing diplomatic efforts.
It remains incumbent on all parties to demonstrate the necessary political will and to undertake steps that would decrease the current tensions and allow the resumption of constructive dialogue using existing mechanisms and at all levels.
The United Nations underlines its commitment to the sovereignty, independency and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.
Against the prevailing dangerous trajectory over the past five years, it is our sincere hope that at long-last a new positive dynamic can emerge to enable an end to the conflict and prevent it from becoming protracted.
This is essential for fostering national cohesion and lasting stability in Ukraine, and critical to the maintenance of peace and security in Europe.
In a newly published report, the United Nations noted that despite the relative temporary calm between Gaza and Israel since the end of March, the scope of the challenges facing the Palestinian people and government is unprecedented. A major fiscal crisis, coupled with growing humanitarian needs and the lack of a political prospect for a negotiated solution, threatens the stability of the West Bank and the very survival of the Palestinian state-...
Bogotá, 24 April 2019 - The UN Verification Mission in Colombia expresses its regrets for the death of former FARC-EP combatant, Dimar Torres, which took place on 22 April in the municipality of Convención in the department of Norte de Santander.
The Mission reiterates its concern, consistent with concerns also expressed by the Secretary-General and the United Nations Security Council, for the killing of former...
The UN Security Council was told on Wednesday that people with disabilities “can’t wait any longer” for more of a say in how the world’s top diplomatic forum for peace and security, factors their needs into its work.
Here are our top stories for this Tuesday: a focus on conflict-related sexual violence at the Security Council, a groundbreaking trial for a malaria vaccine in Malawi, thousands seeking shelter in Libya’s capital as fighting continues, concerns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the attack of an Ebola treatment centre, an update on the death toll of the Sri Lanka attacks, and the Security Council’s condemnation of the killing of peacekeepers in Mali.
Over the course of the past decade, there has been “a paradigm shift” in understanding the devastating impact of sexual violence in conflict on international peace and security, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council during a high-level debate on Tuesday.