General Assembly

General Assembly: Eleventh Emergency Special Session, 15th Plenary Meeting

General Assembly adopts text recommending creation of register to document damages caused by Russian Federation aggression against Ukraine, resuming Emergency Special Session.
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As part of its ongoing emergency special session on Ukraine, the General Assembly today recommended Member States create an international register of damage to serve as a record of evidence and claims information.

By the terms of the text, titled “Furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine” — adopted by a recorded vote of 94 in favour to 14 against, with 73 abstentions — the Assembly recognized that the Russian Federation must be held to account for any violations of international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law in or against Ukraine. nbsp;The Assembly further recognized the need for the establishment of an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury arising from the Russian Federation’s internationally wrongful acts.

The Assembly also reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine and demanded that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force and completely and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from that country’s territory.

Many delegates expressed their support for the establishment of a registry while others voiced their concern over the resolution’s divisiveness and dangerous precedent in allowing the establishment of a mechanism that is not accountable to the Assembly. nbsp;Several delegations spotlighted the hypocrisy and double standards of the resolution’s sponsors.

Introducing the text (document A/ES-11/L.6), the representative of Ukraine noted that the Soviet Union demanded and received reparations 77 years ago as the moral right of a country which has suffered war and occupation. nbsp;Ukraine’s recovery will never be complete without a sense of justice for the victims of the Russian Federation’s war, he underscored while emphasizing that the resolution is concerned with ensuring an appropriate response that averts any aggressor’s temptation to start a war. nbsp;A vote against this proposal will be a vote in favour of impunity and lawlessness, he cautioned.

As an important step towards peace and post-conflict recovery, the text is very carefully drafted and does not exceed the Assembly’s authority, Guatemala’s minister noted.

It is very straightforward, Albania’s speaker explained: nbsp;aggression has happened; extensive damage has been inflicted; and it must be documented for the purposes of reparation and accountability.nbsp;

“It is not enough if the perpetrators only admit their wrongdoings. nbsp;It is not enough if they express remorse. nbsp;Moral gestures are welcome but never enough. nbsp;It is material compensation which is needed to rebuild damages caused by wars,” Poland’s speaker stressed.

“The flawed nature of this initiative is obvious,” the Russian Federation’s delegate countered, noting that the United Nations would have no role in the establishment of a mechanism created by a group of States which will decide its functioning. nbsp;The West is attempting to use the Assembly as a smokescreen to conceal an act of open robbery intended to draw out the conflict. nbsp;He went on to say that most developing countries probably think it is ludicrous or insulting for Western countries to demand reparations.

Elaborating on the text’s flaws, the speaker for China noted that the invoked articles on the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts have no legally binding status as the research products of the International Law Commission. nbsp;The Assembly is not a judicial body, he stressed, while his colleague from Eritrea agreed on behalf of a group of like-minded countries. nbsp;Its resolutions cannot go beyond its mandate and responsibilities to serve as the legal basis for defining internationally wrongful acts, she emphasized. nbsp;States suffering from foreign interference, colonialism, slavery, oppression, unilateral coercive measures, illegal blockades and other internationally wrongful acts also deserve the right for remedy, reparation and justice, she added.

Will Cuba be compensated for the damage accumulated over six decades of an economic, commercial and financial blockade; the lives lost; and the illegal occupation of its national territory?, that country’s speaker asked. nbsp;What about Mexico, Viet Nam, the Pacific Islands, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria and the State of Palestine? he continued. nbsp;Creating a reparation mechanism for one specific conflict while ignoring many other historical, legitimate and well-documented demands is unjust, morally unacceptable and damaging to the Assembly’s credibility, he emphasized.

Echoing the concern over the “message of exceptionalism”, the representative for South Africa pointed out the lack of clarity on the mechanism’s composition and eventual legal status.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Latvia (on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries), Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council), United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Viet Nam, Australia, Canada, Slovakia, Italy, Ireland, Syria, Nicaragua, Romania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, Netherlands, Belarus, Iran, the United States and the European Union, in its capacity as observer.

An observer for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance also spoke.

The representatives of the Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Mexico, Venezuela, Egypt, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Pakistan, Kenya, Brunei Darussalam, Argentina, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Bahrain spoke in explanation of vote.

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