Resolution on reparations for Ukraine. What the UN General Assembly adopted

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UN General Assembly approves resolution to compensate Ukraine for damage caused by Russian invasion
Photo by UNICEF/E.Gilbertson A destroyed school in Kharkiv

A draft resolution on setting up an international mechanism to compensate Ukraine for the damage caused by Russia's aggression has been put to a vote at the UN General Assembly. The document was adopted with the support of 94 countries, 14 delegations voted against it and 73 states abstained.

Almost 50 countries co-sponsored a resolution to establish an international mechanism for compensation for damage, loss and injury and a register to document evidence and claims

The General Assembly is the most representative body of the UN, comprising all 193 member states

94 countries voted for the resolution, 14 voted against it and 73 abstained

The vote took place in the morning and countries returned in the afternoon to explain their decisions

The authors of the document suggest that members of the General Assembly recognize that the Russian Federation should be held accountable for any violations of international law committed by it during the "aggression" and be obliged to compensate for the damage it caused. To this end, the document envisions the creation of an international mechanism and recommends establishing an international register to record documented evidence of "damage, loss or harm caused to all individuals and legal entities concerned, as well as the state of Ukraine

The authors of the draft refer to a number of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly this year, in which the GA delegates demand a halt to "aggression against Ukraine", condemn the humanitarian consequences of the invasion and reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.The document also recalls the International Court of Justice ruling of 16 March 2022 that required Russia to stop military actions in Ukraine as interim measures.

Ukraine: Hold Russia accountable

Introducing the resolution, Ukrainian Ambassador Serhiy Kyslytsya used the biblical proverb that "there is nothing new under the sun" as a motif in all his speeches

He insisted that Russia must be held accountable for violating international law

"Russia has done everything to destroy Ukraine - in the most literal sense of the word," said the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, Serhiy Kyslytsya, "Since the first day of the full-scale invasion, Russia has dropped bombs, launched missiles and shelled Ukrainian towns and villages with all kinds of weapons, striking factories and plants, residential buildings, schools, hospitals and kindergartens. We all saw footage from Butch, Irpen, Borodyanka, Mariupol and Izium. Russia destroys roads, bridges and railways in Ukraine. Just in the last month Russia has rightfully

He recalled that in 1991 the USSR had voted to oblige Iraq to compensate for the damage that country had caused to Kuwait.

Seventy-seven years ago, the Soviet Union demanded and received reparations, calling it the moral right of a country that had survived war and occupation," he said

Today, Russia, which claims to be the successor to the tyranny of the 20th century, is doing everything possible to avoid paying the price for its own war and occupation by trying to avoid responsibility for its crimes

The ambassador outlined the impact of the Russian war on his country, including the bombing of homes and infrastructure, the destruction of nearly half the energy grid and utilities, the mass displacement of people, as well as atrocities such as murder, rape, torture and forced deportations.

This proposal is not just for Russia. It would work for the benefit of all those who are currently threatened or could be threatened in the future with the use of force", he said.

Russia criticises the draft

Speaking before the vote, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia described the draft resolution as a "classic example" of a narrow group of states not acting on the basis of international law but trying to sanctify what is illegal.

According to him, "the countries that supported the resolution are trying to present the General Assembly as a judicial body, which it is not.

These countries boast that they are committed to the rule of law, but at the same time they trample on its very semblance," he added, speaking in Russian.

Nebenzia said that the authors of the resolution want to be able to use frozen Russian assets to finance arms supplies to Kiev and pay off debts for weapons already transferred.

Western countries have never considered "reparations" as a way to atone for their own sins. For two decades they blocked any discussion of this topic in the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the development of any multilateral instrument on state responsibility for internationally wrongful acts," he said, "They have only recalled this concept now, when "reparations" appealed to them as a convenient tool for robbing another state.

Nebenzi said such a resolution would have "systemic consequences for the UN's work".

We urge member states to realize this and vote against the draft," he concluded.

Nebenzi said the proposed reparations mechanism would be set up by a group of countries who would decide how it would function.

The UN will have no role in this process because the proposed mechanism is proposed to be set up outside the UN, and no one plans to report to the General Assembly for its operation," he continued.

Furthermore, he "has no doubt" that the funding would come from frozen Russian assets, which run into billions.

Western countries have long wanted to unfreeze those assets, he said, but not to return them to their owner or spend them to help Ukraine, "but to finance their own ever-growing arms supplies to Kiev and to cover debts for weapons already delivered"

On the emergency special session

The special session, it will be recalled, is held pursuant to a Security Council decision based on the 1950 "Uniting for Peace" resolution. This procedure allows a veto bypass of a permanent member of the Security Council, in this case Russia. The eleventh special session of the General Assembly has resumed its work several times this year at the request of member countries.

The emergency special session of the General Assembly began on 28 February, just days after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine

This is only the 11th time such a meeting has been held since 1950, under the resolution commonly known as "Uniting for Peace"

Resolution 377A(V) empowers the General Assembly to consider international peace and security issues when the Security Council cannot act because of lack of unanimity among its five permanent members - China, France, Britain, the United States and Russia, which have veto power

The current special session was convened after the Council voted to hold a meeting of the General Assembly following Russia's veto of a resolution deploring the attack on Ukraine

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