Speech/statement | Date: 22/09/2022 | Office of the Prime Minister
By Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (New York, USA)
President, Secretary-General and Prosecutor Karim Khan, thank you for your briefings.
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As a global community we face dire consequences from war, climate change, energy shortage, food insecurity and inequality. It is ordinary people who pay the heaviest price.
It is our responsibility as members of the United Nations, and in particular we, the 15 members of the Security Council, to chart a different path, one of hope and belief in what we can achieve together - for our citizens, for humanity.
The Secretary-General underlined this eloquently in his address on Tuesday, and yet again today: We have the values and principles necessary to chart that course. They are all enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
The UN Charter sets out clear principles for a rules-based international order. Sadly, this order is under attack.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine constitutes a gross violation of international law, including the UN Charter. A violation of the core principle on which this organisation is built – the sovereign equality of all its Members.
I listened carefully to President Putin’s speech yesterday, announcing a major escalation of the war - explained by a long list of allegations that Russia is being threatened from the west.
Speaking for Norway - an elected member of this Council, a European state, a NATO member and a neighbour to Russia, let me say as clearly as I can:
These allegations are simply not true. There is no military threat against Russia. There is no legitimate reason whatsoever to underpin a massive mobilisation of Russian troops. This escalation will only lead to increased suffering for Ukrainians and Russians alike.
Russia must abide by the order of the International Court of Justice and immediately suspend its military operations in the territory of Ukraine.
Russia chose to start this war. It must now choose to stop it. None of the differences there may be between Russia and Ukraine can be solved by the ongoing military onslaught.
This General Assembly of the United Nations has reminded us of the global consequences of this war. Surging energy prices and increasing food insecurity are exacerbating the suffering of those who are most vulnerable.
Not to mention the potential effects of a nuclear accident in Ukraine, which could have far-reaching consequences. The presence of Russian forces at Zaphorizhzhia nuclear power plant severely compromises nuclear safety and security. We commend the IAEA for its efforts in helping to stabilise the situation.
But Russia’s destructive behaviour is also hurting multilateral cooperation, at a time when we need it more than ever.
The Black Sea Grain initiative is an important step to bring Ukrainian foodstuffs back to the world market. As the Secretary-General has said, it is multilateral diplomacy in action and we commend his efforts to facilitate this initiative.
Norway also expresses its full support for the Secretary-General’s good offices. When the time comes, and it must come, we will stand firmly with the UN in the efforts to build and sustain peace.
In Ukraine, thousands of civilians, including children, have been killed. Millions have fled their homes, often separated from their loved ones. Many thousands have been welcomed in my country. May the day come, sooner rather than later, when they can return home safely to rebuild their country.
The recent escalation of attacks on civilian targets is utterly unacceptable. Russia’s indiscriminate use of heavy explosive weapons is destroying homes, schools and hospitals.
Unspeakable horrors were revealed in Bucha in March, and now in Izium, and other places previously under occupation. Civilians have been forcibly transferred to Russia and Russian-occupied territory. And there are disturbing reports of sexual violence being used as a tactic of war. This must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
We also condemn the planned so-called referendums in the occupied regions of Ukraine. They would be contrary to international law and the UN charter, they would have no legal standing and no legitimacy. They would in no way affect Ukraine’s sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders. Let that be clear.
International law is not optional.
All reports of atrocities and human rights violations must be properly investigated, and those responsible brought to justice. There can be no impunity.
Accountability is key. Both to ensure justice for the victims, and to deter future violations. Perpetrators must be held to account, through national or international criminal justice mechanisms.
This is why we welcome the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine established by the Human Rights Council.
And Norway continues to fully support the International Criminal Court. The ICC’s mission is crucial, both in the context of Ukraine and globally.
Let me end on this note: This war is a catastrophe for Ukraine and its people. It’s ramifications have serious consequences for vulnerable people and communities all over the world.
But it is also detrimental to Russia itself, our neighbour.
Thousands of Russian soldiers have been sent to their deaths in an unnecessary and illegal war.
Russian citizens are increasingly being denied human rights and fundamental freedoms in a society ruled with an authoritarian fist.
If the Russian people, and we know them, could freely express their views, would they have chosen war? I doubt it.
Democracy, rule of law and human rights are essential: They are our best tools for promoting peace between states, and accountability at all levels. They are also what we have to build on when we turn our back on war and destruction.
We must defend these norms and standards, and the values that underpin them; again, the core principles are enshrined in the UN Charter for us to use.
Preventing and ending acts of aggression is a direct responsibility of the Security Council. Norway will continue to use its role in this Council to promote dialogue, and a peaceful settlement and fair resolution of this meaningless war.
But we will also stand up for Ukraine’s right to defend itself against onslaught and aggression. As we will defend our right to support Ukraine in its self defence.
We will speak up for international law, for the values of the United Nations, and take action for all people in need who are affected by this war, no matter where they are. Because this war of aggression is an attack not just against Ukraine, but against the principles and values of the UN Charter.
The Ukrainian people are giving their lives to defend these universal values – and their own independence.
Ukraine can count on Norway's continued support in this struggle.