UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution on Monday calling for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine, including by paying reparations for widespread damage to the country and for Ukrainians killed and who was injured during the war.
The vote in the world body with 193 members was 94-14 with 73 abstaining. It was close to the lowest level of support received by any of the five Ukraine-related resolutions adopted by the General Assembly since Russia’s February 24 invasion of its smaller neighbor.
The resolution recognizes the need to establish an “international mechanism for compensation for damage, loss or injury” arising from Russia’s “wrongful actions” against Ukraine.
It recommends that member countries of the assembly, in cooperation with Ukraine, create an “international register” to document claims and information about damage, loss or injury to Ukrainians and the government caused by Russia.
Before the vote, the UN Ambassador to Ukraine, Sergiy Kyslytsya, told the gathering that “Russia has done its best to destroy Ukraine – in a very literal sense.”
He cited the bombing and shelling of cities and villages in Russia, “targeting everything from plants and factories to residential buildings, schools, hospitals and kindergartens” as well as roads, bridges, railways and nearly half of Ukraine’s power and utility grid during the last month alone. . He also referred to stories of atrocities committed by Russians in the territory they occupied, including murder, rape, torture, forced deportation and looting.
“Ukraine will have the daunting task of rebuilding the country and recovering from this war,” Kyslytsya said. “But that recovery will never be complete without a sense of justice for the victims of the Russian war.”
Establishing a mechanism to document allegations, he said, “Ukraine is committed to a transparent, impartial and objective process that will be managed and supervised by the international community to avoid even the slightest perception of bias.”
“It’s time to hold Russia accountable,” Kyslytsya said, calling the decision “a sign of hope for justice.”
The UN Ambassador in Russia, Vassily Nebenzia, urged members of the assembly to vote against the resolution, calling it “an attempt to legalize something that, from the point of view of current international law, cannot be legalized.” It is “legally void,” he said.
Nebenzia accused the West of “doing everything it could to provide a veneer of legitimacy” to begin frozen spending – or in fact “stole Russian assets worth billions of dollars.” And he accused the West of seeking a resolution from the General Assembly “as a screen to hide this open theft” whose “ultimate beneficiaries will be Western military corporations.”
He warned that approving the resolution “can only increase tension and instability in the whole world,” and said that supporters of the resolution “will become involved in the illegal expropriation of sovereign assets of a third country.”
Sixteen countries and the Palestinians echoed Russia, saying in a joint statement that the decision “lacked an adequate legal basis.”
Its signatories, including China, Iran, Angola and Venezuela, said that countries suffering from foreign interference, colonialism, slavery, oppression, unilateral sanctions “and other international wrongful acts, also deserve the right to a remedy, reparation and justice, which should be addressed through robust legal processes.”
The Palestinians sent a letter to all countries late on Monday saying they did not join the declaration.
Canada’s UN Ambassador Robert Rae shot back that the resolution does not mention the forcible seizure of assets or the destruction of the powers of sovereign states, and said that Russia is only because it does not want to concede the resolution’s call for an international register to document make the allegations. evidence of damage, loss and injuries.
“The assembly is not required to act as judge or jury,” he said. And Russian claims that “this is some systematic, Western conspiracy to steal the assets of sovereign states — It’s just complete baldness.” It’s nonsense, and we have to have the courage to say it.”
Russia’s veto power in the 15-member Security Council has blocked the most powerful UN body from taking any action since President Vladimir Putin ordered the attack. But there is no veto in the General Assembly, which had previously adopted four resolutions criticizing the Russian invasion.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they reflect world opinion and have shown widespread opposition to Russian military action.
The resolution adopted on Monday was sponsored by Canada, Guatemala, the Netherlands and Ukraine and co-sponsored by dozens of others.
It reaffirms the General Assembly’s commitment to Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity” and reiterates its call for Russia to “immediately cease the use of force against Ukraine” and withdraw all its forces from the territory of Ukraine.
It also expresses “serious concern over the loss of life, displacement of civilians, destruction of infrastructure and natural resources, loss of public and private property, and economic distress caused by the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.”
The resolution recalls that Article 14 of the United Nations Charter authorizes the General Assembly to “recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation … which it considers likely to impair the general welfare of friendly relations between nations” including breaches of the Charter.
Shortly after the Russian invasion, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution on March 2 demanding an immediate Russian ceasefire, the withdrawal of all its troops and the protection of all civilians by a vote of 141-5 with 35 abstentions.
On March 24, the assembly voted 140-5 with 38 abstentions on a resolution blaming Russia for Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis and urging a ceasefire and immediate protection for millions of civilians and the homes, schools and hospitals vital to w survival.
Monday’s vote was close to the lowest vote on the Ukraine resolution: The assembly voted 93-24 with 58 abstentions on April 7 to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva over allegations that Russian troops in Ukraine are involved in rights violations that the United States and Ukraine have called war crimes.
The assembly voted overwhelmingly by its highest margin — 143-5 with 35 abstentions — on October 12 to condemn Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions and demand its immediate reversal.