Joint Nordic statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Delivered by Martin Bille Hermann, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations
First, let me congratulate Malta on assuming the Presidency of the Security Council. I also thank Under-Secretary-General Griffiths for his briefing.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Denmark.
I join others in expressing our condolences to the people in Türkiye and Syria affected by the recent devastating earthquake.
Today marks 347 days of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. 347 days of destruction and suffering for Ukraine’s population, as Russia continues its relentless attacks.
The unjustified and unprovoked attack by a permanent member of this Council is in blatant violation of international law and the UN Charter in particular. And in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion, we have witnessed systematic and widespread violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
This war is of grave concern to us all. Its consequences are felt far and wide – not only by the Ukrainian people, or Europe, but in all corners of the world. The most vulnerable have suffered the most.
The Nordics would like to highlight the following three areas of concern: (1) Russia’s ongoing blatant violations of IHL and the need to provide full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors. (2) The negative consequences of Russia’s war of aggression for global food prices and the important contribution of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to mitigating global food insecurity; and (3) the importance of accountability.
Russia’s illegal war has imposed widespread human suffering on the Ukrainian people. It has led to extensive destruction of critical civilian infrastructure and shattered essential services. The human and economic costs are immeasurable, as is the destruction of the environment.
Currently, the greatest needs are felt in areas under the temporary military control of Russia. We call on Russia to respect its obligations as an occupying power.
We also call on Russia to enable full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to the people living in these territories, including through the frontline. Obligations under international humanitarian law must be complied with by all.
We strongly commend international and national humanitarian responders for their bravery in delivering humanitarian protection and assistance to those in need. This includes aid delivery to newly liberated areas and areas close to the frontline, amidst constant shelling.
As Russia’s illegal war rages on, the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis induced by the war are felt across the world. Countries that were already struggling to recover from the negative economic effects of the pandemic now face severe challenges to food and energy security, commodity prices and public finances.
And we risk seeing the effects lasting far into the future. Last week, FAO reported that severe war-induced impacts in Ukraine are estimated to reduce winter wheat area plantings by about 40 percent.
As a glimmer of hope, grain exports from Ukraine and Russia have increased substantially since the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Following the agreement, we have seen lower food prices globally and improved access to food for humanitarian actors.
As we approach the agreement’s renewal date in March, it is of utmost importance to see a smooth extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
And while we must come together to prevent famine in the immediate term, the war has brutally underlined the need to also accelerate the transition to more sustainable and resilient food systems.
Lastly, we would like to underline the critical role of accountability for crimes committed in the context of the aggression.
All reports of atrocities and human rights violations must be properly investigated, and perpetrators held to account, through national or international justice mechanisms.
We are alarmed by the very large number of war crimes reported since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukrainian territory. We are highly concerned about the appalling reports of conflict related sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine. The true scale of this violence is not yet known. Russia’s attacks on civilian centers and civilian infrastructure may also constitute war crimes.
Ensuring accountability does not only contribute to justice and reparation for crimes committed. It is also key to prevention through the deterrence of future atrocities.
This is why we, the Nordics, welcome important initiatives such as the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine established by the Human Rights Council. And why we continue to fully support the International Criminal Court. The work of the ICC is crucial for justice everywhere.
The current situation is very bleak. But the picture is also very clear:
Russia must cease its aggression against Ukraine and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its troops from Ukraine. Russia must comply with the order on provisional measures, rendered by the International Court of Justice on 16 March to suspend its military operations. We call on Russia to respect the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.
Only Russia can end the war.
The Nordics will continue to stand with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and we commend Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace.
I thank you, Madam President.