Tuesday, March 28, 2023

UN overwhelmingly votes against Russia; India abstains again

India has abstained in the UN General Assembly on a draft resolution that condemned Russia’s “illegal” referenda and attempts to annex parts of Ukraine, saying its decision is “consistent” with its “well thought out” national position and calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an urgent return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy.
The 193-member General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to condemn Russia’s “illegal so-called referendums in regions within the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine and the attempted illegal annexation of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, following the organisation of the above-mentioned referendums”.
The resolution ‘Territorial integrity of Ukraine: defending the principles of the Charter of the United Nations’ was adopted with 143 nations voting in favour, Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Nicaragua voting against, and 35 countries, including India, abstaining.
The UNGA hall erupted in applause after the resolution was adopted.
In the explanation of the vote after the action was taken on the draft resolution, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said India urged that all efforts be made for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an urgent return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy.
“The path to peace requires us to keep all channels of diplomacy open. We therefore sincerely hope for an early resumption of peace talks to bring about an immediate ceasefire and resolution of the conflict. India stands ready to support all such efforts aimed at de-escalation,” Kamboj said.
“There are other pressing issues at play, some of which have not been adequately addressed in the resolution voted today. Our decision to abstain is consistent with our well-thought-out national position,” she added.
Quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had last month told Russian President Vladimir Putin that this is not an era of war, Kamboj said that with this firm resolve to strive for a peaceful solution through dialogue and diplomacy, India has decided to abstain.
She emphasised it is unfortunate that as the trajectory of the Ukrainian conflict unfolds, the entire global South has suffered “substantial collateral damage”.
“As developing countries face the brunt of the conflict’s consequences on food, fuel and fertiliser supplies, it is critical that the voice of the global South be heard and their legitimate concerns duly addressed. We must therefore not initiate measures that further complicate a struggling global economy,” she said.
Among the nations abstaining were China, Cuba, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The resolution declared that the “unlawful actions” of Russia concerning the illegal so-called referendums held from September 23 to 27 in parts of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine and the subsequent attempted illegal annexation of these regions “have no validity under international law and do not form the basis for any alteration of the status of these regions of Ukraine”.
It called upon all States, international organisations, and United Nations specialised agencies not to recognise any alteration by Russia of the status of any or all of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk or Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, and demanded that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of the war-torn nation within its internationally recognised borders.
Kamboj said that India is deeply concerned about the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, including the targeting of civilian infrastructure and the deaths of civilians.
“We have consistently advocated that no solution can ever arrive at the cost of human lives. Escalation of hostilities and violence is in no one’s interest,” she said, adding that India has urged that all efforts be made for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an urgent return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy.
“We believe that the global order that we all subscribe to is based on international law, the UN Charter and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. These principles must be upheld without exception,” she said.
Underlining that dialogue is the only answer to settling differences and disputes, however daunting that may appear at this moment, Kamboj quoted External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s remarks to the high-level UN general debate last month that India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there.
“We are on the side that respects the UN Charter and its founding principles, we are on the side that calls for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out,” Jaishankar had said.
“We are on the side of those struggling to make ends meet, even as they stare at the escalating costs of food, fertilisers and of fuel. It is therefore in our collective interest to work constructively, both within the United Nations and outside in finding an early resolution to this conflict,” he had said.
Last month, India had abstained while Russia vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution tabled by the US and Albania that would have condemned Moscow’s “illegal referenda” and declared the annexation of four Ukrainian territories as invalid.
The 15-nation UN Security Council had voted on the draft resolution on “Illegal So-Called Referenda in Ukraine”, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a ceremony in the Kremlin, had signed treaties to annex the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.
The resolution failed to get adopted as permanent UNSC member Russia vetoed it.
Of the 15-nation Council, 10 nations voted for the resolution and China, Gabon, India and Brazil abstained.
Following Russia’s veto, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield vowed to continue to pursue accountability at the United Nations in the General Assembly, where every country has a vote.
President of the General Assembly Csaba Korosi reconvened the emergency special session on Ukraine.
Russia had demanded that the vote on the draft resolution be held through a secret ballot but its call was rejected after the general assembly this week voted on a procedural motion by Albania that action on the text be taken by a recorded vote.
India voted to reject Russia’s demand for the secret ballot, favouring a public vote on the text along with 106 nations.
Russia on Monday carried out strikes against multiple Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv.
Police said at least 10 people were killed and around 60 others were wounded in the attacks across Ukraine.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was deeply shocked by the large-scale missile attacks by Russia’s armed forces on cities across Ukraine.
“This constitutes another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians are paying the highest price,” he had said.
India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
India has abstained on votes on the Ukraine conflict in the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.


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