Delivered by H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to thank Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo for her detailed briefing. We acknowledge President Zelensky’s address to the Council and his first-hand account of the latest developments in Ukraine.

We meet today following concerning reports of intensified missile strikes across Ukraine in urban areas including Kyiv and Kharkiv. In particular, the images in Kremenchuk of a shopping mall—something familiar to all of us in our everyday life—engulfed in flames are horrifying. This incident has added to the war’s immensely high human toll and should be properly investigated. Incidents like this are a clear demonstration of why civilian objects are protected under international law. The UAE reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of attacks on civilians and civilian objects and infrastructure.

With the conflict now entering its fifth month, women and children and the elderly are disproportionately impacted. More than half of Ukraine’s children are now displaced from home, and women, children, and the elderly are suffering from ongoing violence and trauma, and seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

It is well past time that we find parameters for ceasefire negotiations as a starting point to end this war. If the conflict continues unabated, we can expect the tsunami of global ramifications to worsen. People around the world are already suffering, both directly and from the conflict’s wider repercussions, including distorted global trade, the effects of sanctions, and increased food prices—threatening a global recession. The most vulnerable, as always, are the worst affected.

In this context, I would like to make the following points:

First, the application of international humanitarian law is fundamental to preserving human life. Compliance is both a moral and a legal obligation. And we reiterate the importance of respecting the principles of necessity, distinction, and proportionality that are paramount in conflict, as well as the importance of ensuring accountability. Any military operation must be limited to exclusively military objectives, and all precautionary measures must be taken to avoid the direct or indirect targeting of civilians.

The fact that the war in Ukraine has so greatly affected heavily urbanized areas, with high-density civilian populations, only underlines the imperative of applying the principles outlined in the Council’s framework on the protection of civilians and civilian objects.

Second, the international community should intensify efforts to
de-escalate and engage proactively to end this conflict. Almost two months have passed since this Council adopted a Presidential Statement expressing deep concern regarding the maintenance of international peace and security in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine, however, has continued to escalate. The UN Charter outlines many of the tools that can be deployed to reach a peaceful settlement. But knowing that the tools exist, or that they are at the disposal of the parties, is not enough. The talk needs to be walked. And now is the time to have an actual dialogue on the humanitarian challenges, and to prioritize an immediate cessation of hostilities, laying out the contours of a sustainable solution that ends this conflict and ends it on a foundation upon which peace can be built. We encourage the parties to seize this opportunity, and we urge the Secretary-General and others to bring together the parties for good faith negotiations to this end.

Third, helping ease global food insecurity must be a priority. This cannot wait. We must avoid a food catastrophe. We are already facing what David Beasley so vividly described as having to take food from the hungry to feed the starving. Specifically, there needs to be a solution to export the grain and fertilizer that are so critical to food systems around the world. We are encouraged by ongoing efforts aimed at allowing ships safe passage to and from key seaports, including Odessa. The Security Council must do everything within its power to support these negotiations and we look forward to the Council addressing this in more detail.

Finally, Mr. President, the devastation in Ukraine from this war is undeniable. We risk a lost generation of children denied education and opportunity. We need to redouble our efforts to achieve peace and end this human suffering. This Council must exhaust all avenues and spare no efforts for this objective.

Thank you, Mr. President.