Ukraine’s President, Volodymry Zelensky
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on Wednesday called for expansion of the UN Security Council and reform of the right of veto granted to its permanent members.
Zelenskyy spoke in his first in-person address around the iconic horseshoe table in a meeting in the Security Council chamber at the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Regardless of who you are, the current UN system still makes you less influential than the veto power possessed by a few and misused by one: Russia.
“That is to the detriment of all other UN Members,” he told Security Council.
World leaders and Foreign Ministers attending the annual debate at the UN General Assembly packed into the Security Council chamber for the meeting,
The meeting focused on upholding the UN Charter through effective multilateralism in the context of the war in Ukraine, now entering its 20th month.
The Charter is the UN’s founding document and codifies the major principles of international relations, including the sovereign equality of States and the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.
“We should recognise that the UN finds itself in a deadlock on the matters of aggression. Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN when it comes to the defense of the sovereign borders of nations,” Zelenskyy told the Council.
The Ukrainian President said he was confident that the UN Charter could work effectively for the sake of peace and security globally.
“However, for this to happen, the years-long discussions and projects on UN reform must be translated into a viable process of UN reform.
“And it should not be only about representation here in the Security Council. The use of veto power that is what requires reform,” he said.
He said that the right to veto “should not serve those who are obsessed with hatred and war” and that the General Assembly – which comprises all UN Member States – “should be given real power to overcome the veto.”
Zelenskyy said he welcomed proposals to expand the Security Council to reflect current realities.
Fifteen countries sit on the Council, five of which – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – are permanent members who have the right to veto any resolution or decision.
Ten non-permanent members are elected to serve for two-year terms.
“Ukraine considers it unjust, when billions of people do not have their permanent representation in the Security Council,” he said.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, underlined full commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine in his remarks to the meeting.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in clear violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, is aggravating geopolitical tensions and divisions.
“It is threatening regional stability, increasing the nuclear threat and creating deep fissures in our increasingly multipolar world.
“All this comes at a time when cooperation and compromise for multilateral solutions are needed more than ever, to tackle challenges from the climate crisis to unprecedented levels of inequality to disruptive technologies,” he said.
Guterres said that the UN had been clear in condemning the war, which began on 24 February.
He recalled that the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that Russia leave Ukraine, and another rejecting its efforts to annex Ukrainian territory.
The secretary-general also outlined the brutal toll of the conflict, including relentless attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure and the tens of thousands killed or injured.
He outlined the shocking human rights violations, and millions now in need of aid and protection.
“This war is already causing limitless suffering. Its continuation risks further perilous escalation.
“There is no alternative to dialogue, diplomacy, and a just peace,” he warned.
The meeting was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, as the country holds the rotating Council presidency this month.
Earlier, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, questioned why President Zelenskyy was allowed to speak ahead of representatives of countries that are on the Council.
He also questioned why North Macedonian Foreign Minister, Bujar Osmani, who is the chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), was invited.