The statement was delivered by Martin Bille Hermann, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations
I thank Under-Secretary Martin Griffiths for his briefing.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Denmark.
Last month an overwhelming majority of Member States from all regions of the world adopted a resolution for peace in Ukraine and once again demanded that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw from the territory of Ukraine. The General Assembly underscored the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in line with the principles of the UN Charter. And we reaffirmed our commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, which we echo today.
The Nordics would like to highlight the following three areas of concern: (1) The disruptive global consequences of Russia’s war of aggression, and the importance of the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for global food security. (2) Russia’s ongoing violations of international law and the obligation to provide full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors, and (3) the impacts of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.
Russia’s illegal invasion has not only had shattering consequences for the people of Ukraine. It has also worsened the humanitarian situation globally. Russia’s war of aggression has hampered Ukraine’s ability to produce and export grain and other agricultural products that are much needed in communities around the world.
We, the Nordics, are determined to be at the forefront of mitigating the disruptive, global consequences of the war. We have continued our efforts to assist where the needs are greatest. This includes countries in Africa, where existing food insecurity has been made worse by the decline in exports from Ukraine.
The continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is imperative to mitigating food insecurity caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine, especially in developing countries. The initiative has ensured exports of more than 23.5 million tonnes grain and other foodstuff from Ukraine since August 2022. It has helped stabilize global food markets and food prices and ensured delivery of food to countries in need. We urge Russia to be part of a solution to ensure a 120-day rollover of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, in line with the Istanbul agreement.
In Ukraine, the violence and destruction show no signs of abating. Russia has resumed its deadly and destructive missile attacks. The latest report by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry published yesterday concludes that Russia has committed numerous violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in addition to a wide range of war crimes. The findings are shocking – including sexual violence, torture, as well as the forced transfer and deportation of children from Ukraine and their illegal adoptions in Russia. Such acts are in violation of IHL and may amount to a war crime.
The Commission has further documented indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in populated areas, causing excessive suffering and harm to civilians and civilian objects, including hospitals and schools. Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the systematic targeting of energy-related infrastructure may amount to crimes against humanity. For instance, it means that pregnant women are denied prenatal care, and forced to give birth under dangerous circumstances. We call on all parties to protect healthcare and the provision of reproductive health services. Not only in accordance with international humanitarian law – but as a human right.
The need to ensure protection for all civilians is a key humanitarian prerogative. However, Russia continues to violate our agreed norms and rules of armed conflict. We call on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, and to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure as well as to enable full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors.
Lastly, we would like to draw attention to the alarming reports of sexual and gender-based violence in Ukraine. The violence is perpetrated, overwhelmingly, by Russian military personnel on Ukrainian women, girls, men and boys. Conflict related sexual violence is a clear violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
We must listen to the survivors of violence. They demand justice, but also dignity and support to continue their lives. Investing in the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of survivors is not only an investment in their recovery, but also an investment in sustainable peace and national resilience.
The Nordics will continue to stand with Ukraine and its people. We commend Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace, and support the various initiatives established to secure accountability for atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine.
I thank you, President.