Check Against Delivery
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Denmark.
We thank Albania and the United States for convening this meeting and the Under-Secretary General for her briefing.
The Nordic countries would like to express our grave concern over the grim humanitarian consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, as well as the war’s devastating global implications in areas already affected by humanitarian crisis and food insecurity, such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, Yemen and beyond. All demand our immediate attention and concerted efforts.
Today, the Nordics would like to share three messages on 1) the grave humanitarian situation in Ukraine, 2) the global implications of Russia’s aggression and the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and 3) our support to all meaningful initiatives towards a just peace.
Russian drone attacks and missile strikes continue in Ukraine, with devastating effects for civilians and civilian infrastructure. On 9 July several civilian casualties were reported, in yet another attack, at a humanitarian aid distribution site in the frontline town of Orikhiv. Not far from there, Russia’s illegal military seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continues to pose devastating and widespread risks, in an area already severely affected by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam.
Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The same applies to the use of weapons and methods of warfare that have indiscriminate effects. We strongly condemn Russia’s indiscriminate warfare and intentional attacks on civilians, as well as Iran’s provision of drones to Russia, in violation of Security Council resolution 2231 of 2015. All those responsible must be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights against Ukraine’s civilian population, including the forcible transfer and deportation of children and conflict-related sexual violence.
We also call on Russia to ensure full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to all areas under its temporary military control, as well as to persons detained by Russia or forcibly transferred by Russia, including children.
Second, we are concerned with the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Initiative has helped avoid a further deterioration of the global food crisis amplified by Russia’s war on Ukraine. We welcome the active engagement by the Secretary-General and Türkiye in facilitating the Initiative.
Since the launch of the Initiative, which has safely exported over 32 million tonnes of grain and food stuff, we have seen a lowering of global food prices. 56 percent of the exports have gone directly to developing countries. In May, exports dropped, however, to the lowest volume since the Initiative began, largely due to Russian obstructions in the inspection and registration of shipping vessels.
Let us not forget that the Black Sea Grain Initiative would not have been needed, had it not been for the Russian aggression - and Russia obviously bears a heavy responsibility for ensuring its continuation and smooth operation. We deeply deplore today’s news that Russia has suspended the initiative and urge Russia to ensure a long-term rollover and full implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, in line with the Istanbul agreement, and to urgently lift all impediments that delay operations of the Initiative.
The Nordics support all meaningful efforts to bring an end to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Such efforts must include Russia’s complete and unconditional withdrawal of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine, and respect for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We stand ready to support Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace and all initiatives seeking to advance peace in line with the UN Charter, international law and relevant General Assembly resolutions. And we welcome the G7 Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine and intend to build on that framework to ensure Ukraine’s long-term security.
In closing, the Nordics reaffirm our commitment to the UN founding principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. To the security and well-being of the people in Ukraine and everywhere. Our resolve is unwavering for as long as it takes.
Thank you, Mr. President.