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Ukraine: UNGA adopts humanitarian resolution, Italy among 140 ‘yes’

NEW YORK, MARCH 24 – Moscow was again isolated at the UN when the General Assembly today adopted with an overwhelming majority of 140 countries in favor a non-binding resolution on the “Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine”. The document calls for “the immediate halt of hostilities by Russia, in particular of possible attacks against civilians, and for the humanitarian access and the protection of civilians, medical personnel, journalists and humanitarian workers”. The draft, introduced by Ukraine, was prepared by the small group of countries, among them Mexico, France and Italy, that had called for resumption of the special session of the Assembly on the crisis a month after the invasion of the country.

“Italy has voted in favour and is grateful to all the Member States that did so. The majority of nations united around Ukraine again. Loud and clear”, commented the Italian mission to the UN after the vote.

The resolution is the second overwhelmingly approved by the General Assembly on the Ukrainian crisis. The first, in which the Russian attack was “deplored”, was adopted on March 2 by 141 votes. Today, the ‘yes’ were one less than last time, while Russia, Syria, Belarus, Eritrea and North Korea voted against and 38 others abstaining.

At the end of a second morning of deliberations on competing draft resolutions addressing Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis, 67 States voted not to take action and vote on a second text penned by South Africa, Humanitarian situation emanating out of the conflict in Ukraine, which made no reference to Russia or its role originating the conflict. Despite that, 50 countries gathered in the General Assembly Hall, did favour moving to a vote on the Russian-backed South African draft, and 36 abstained, but the resolution did not garner enough support to proceed to a full vote.

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya spoke passionately against the South African draft, as having “inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, or course of actions,” which he maintained, only bolstered a commonly-held sceptical view of “how the General Assembly is already perceived by the peoples of the world.” In a forceful speech, he said Ukraine had had nothing to do with the text, written without any cross-regional consultations, and “promoted unilaterally by one country.”

Mr. Kyslytsya made the analogy of a “child dying in your arms and instead of administering to him the proper medicine…you opt for a placebo.”

“Will you opt for it? Will you leave the dying child with no chance whatsoever? Just because…[it] was so easy to get and to swallow?”

France’s UN envoy Nicolas de Rivière, speaking on behalf of the European Union, praised the resolution as a “very strong signal” sent by the General Assembly which “recalls the urgency of putting an end to the humanitarian catastrophe” and which asks Russia to halt its aggression without delay. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, welcomed the “strong majority” supporting the resolution. The countries made clear that “Russia bears sole responsibility for the grave humanitarian crisis and violence in Ukraine,” she said: “As President Biden has stated clearly, (Russia’s president) Vladimir Putin will not see victory in Ukraine. And we heard today that he will not see it here in New York either.”

Action in Assembly hall followed the stalemate in the Security Council where a resolution drafted by Russia, in which Moscow was not put on the stand for the humanitarian tragedy of the last four weeks, was rejected today with 13 abstentions out of 15. China was the only other country voting in favor of the Russian draft. Without the imposition of a veto, Council resolutions must obtain at least nine yes to be adopted.


Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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