By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL- In a joint statement on Monday, France and Mexico, co-sponsors of a draft resolution on the humanitarian crisis, said it is of “absolute priority” to have an immediate end to all hostilities to protect Ukraine’s civilian population and to let humanitarian aid proceed for delivery to millions of those in dire need in Ukraine. The resolution was moved from the 15-member Security Council where Russia has veto power to the 193-member General Assembly where no vetoes can be made. Both French and Mexican officials said there are a large number of countries not on the Security Council that want to promote the resolution.
France’s UN Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere said: “We are witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II” while Mexican Ambassador Juan Ramon De La Fuente said: “The humanitarian situation in Ukraine keeps deteriorating hour by hour.” Both envoys pointed out: “In order to allow for a vigorous, united message to be sent by the international community, we have to take our initiative to the General Assembly.”
Meanwhile, Council diplomats commented that after two weeks of closed-door discussions, the draft resolution would have faced a veto by Russia in the Security Council if it called for an immediate end to Russian aggression which is what the U.S. and its Western allies want. De Riviere told the press: “Obviously, it would have been difficult in the Security Council.” By moving the draft resolution to the General Assembly, its co-sponsors lose the prospect of the resolution being legally binding as Security Council resolutions are. On the other hand, they are likely to gain strong support for the call to halt the violence and for language that deplores the dire state of Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis. De Riviere said France and Mexico are hopeful that all U.N. members will support an assembly resolution on access for humanitarian aid, cessation of hostilities and respect for international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions. The UN ambassador to France added: “The sooner, the better.”