Urgency now: Urgent UN action needed for Ukraine

Many find it hard to understand the world powers’ refusal to impose a no-fly zone (NFZ), at least over the western rest of Ukraine not (yet) occupied by Russia. It has been demanded several times by its democratically elected president Volodymyr Zelensky for the whole of his country. Ukraine is a founding member of the United Nations and the largest country entirely in Europe, at its geographical heart. Russia has no right to it. Its unprovoked and unjustified invasion was repudiated by the whole world in the United Nations General Assembly.

The precedents for an NFZ exist, amply. The NFZ can be justified as performing R2P (the “Responsibility to Protect”). The latest confusion between the Pentagon and Poland over the deployment of MiGs has not helped, but it does not have to be NATO officially enforcing it. An “allied coalition” for R2P/Ukraine, comprising neutral countries, preferably under a UN mandate, is urgently needed and should be the top priority of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Enforcing an NFZ and enacting R2P should maintain a ceasefire, which is essential.

The establishment of a cordon sanitaire protecting Ukrainian nuclear power plants should also be a priority. The urgency of this situation is highlighted today by the dramatic risks of Chernobyl overheating due to the power cut necessary for cooling. But also for the humanitarian corridors which must be more intended for the delivery of aid and the protection of civilians than for their forced evacuation which only allows depopulation or ethnic cleansing.

Time is running out for Ukraine and world peace. We are facing the abyss.

Under the precedent of unite for peace modality (United Nations General Assembly resolution 377 A in 1950, resulting from the Soviet veto during the Korean War), the United Nations General Assembly held an emergency special session, aware of the inability of the Security Council to discharge its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security due to the Russian veto, and adopted its resolution A/RES/ES-11/1 on March 2, 2022. Remarkably, the resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority of 141 Member States, well above the required two-thirds, and with only 35 abstentions. The Five Very Few Voices vs came from Russia itself, as well as other dictatorships, co-responsible and sanctioned Belarus, as well as North Korea, Eritrea and Syria.

The resolution is a resounding rebuke to the Russian Federation, its regime under President Vladimir Putin and its accomplice Belarus. The resolution deplores in the strongest terms the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations. It obliges Russia to take measures, namely that it immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and refrain from any further threat or unlawful use of force against any Member State; and that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

It also calls on all parties to allow the safe and unhindered passage of civilians to destinations outside Ukraine and to facilitate rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine, to protect civilians, including humanitarian personnel and people in vulnerable situations, including women, the elderly, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants and children, and to respect the rights of the ‘man.

Despite resounding global condemnation and injunctions to abstain and stand down, Russia and its rogue president brazenly continue. Their escalation of this notoriously unjustified war is glaring proof of the utter contempt with which he and his government hold the world community, already evidenced by his rejection, in deed if not in words, of the multiple moves that leaders such as French President Macron and others set out to persuade him otherwise.

It is, more importantly, proof of the systemic disregard that he, and through him, the Russian Federation, and even Belarus, have for the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the rule of law, in particular international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions and their manifest treaty obligations.

The repeated non-respect, for the umpteenth time, of the ceasefires for the humanitarian corridors that Putin’s own commanders agreed to, is testimony that Russia cannot be trusted today. There is little or no basis of trust required to conduct negotiations of any kind – trust in Russia has completely evaporated. Yet the world needs Russia as a vital partner for progress, not regression.

While, according to the International Court of Justice, “enforcement action” remains the exclusive domain of the UN Security Council, the General Assembly has the power to establish a peacekeeping force.

The UN must act immediately to do just that. It should bring together a “coalition of the willing” and design, build and deploy a robust and adequately armed peacekeeping force or peacekeeping operation (PKO in the jargon), using lessons learned and best practices. past PKOs. It wouldn’t necessarily be a NATO operation in itselfbut NATO members could indeed participate.

Whether they do so or not, other neutral European countries (Austria, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, for example) and non-European states such as Australia, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, South Africa, or others could. The PKO should include adequate air cover to protect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the protection of civilians, as well as the peaceful movement/evacuation and eventual repatriation of those most at risk.

Air cover should have a more robust protection mandate than the previous “UN Protection Force” (UNPROFOR) deployed during the Bosnian war, whose rules of engagement were limited to the protection of relief convoys but not besieged civilian populations.

Indeed, the PKO, given the scope of the UNGA resolution, encompassing Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, should also have the power to eventually cover the Donbass regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, and even Crimea. It should also be tasked with acting as an interposition force to gradually increase the physical separation of belligerent forces allowing for the complete withdrawal of all invading Russian military units. It should be a catalyst for the achievement of the Minsk agreements, insofar as they remain important, and assist the parties to work constructively within the relevant international frameworks, including the Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group, towards their full implementation.

It takes time to deploy a multilateral UN PKO, but as a short-term interim measure, an advanced deployment by the OSCE around nuclear power plants should be activated by its Permanent Council as part of an urgent overhaul of its special monitoring mission in Ukraine. Russia must be obliged to respect a sanitary cordon around nuclear power plants, as an overriding global humanitarian obligation.

Beyond the immediate danger of degradation of nuclear power plants, the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly condemns the decision of the Russian Federation to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces, and the world as a whole has rejected as totally inadmissible the doomsday nuclear threats of President Vladimir Putin, who now ranks among an outcast and a suspected and corrupt war criminal.

Ukraine, through its heroic President Zelensky, has called for a no-fly zone. NATO’s rejection of such a notion should be seen as a rejection of its own collective involvement, not of the idea as such. Indeed, for other countries, non-NATO states, and even the United Nations itself, to succumb to such threats would be a flagrant breach of moral and legal duty. On the contrary, the R2P principle (responsibility to protect) invokes the At first glance case for its application.

While humanitarian interventions have historically been justified in the context of varying situations, R2P focuses only on the four mass atrocity crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and cleaningof which Russia is accused, with mounting evidence that it is clearly engaged in massive bombing of civilian targets (downtowns, administrative buildings, power plants, ports, civilian factories, schools, hospitals, residential compounds, malls and other infrastructure), as President Putin has repeatedly demonstrated and threatened.

So far, this war, started by one man, led by thousands of invaders, has forced the flight to safety abroad of more than 2 million Ukrainian civilians, mostly women and half of them million children. The UNHCR estimates that it could soon reach 4 million.

This is a decisive situation for the UN. Either he saves world peace or he dies in World War III. Armed with this recent strongly condemnatory and prescriptive General Assembly resolution, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should feel empowered to imperatively forge a global coalition to enforce a no-fly zone, through a robust peacekeeping operation, enabling a ceasefire and enacting the responsibility to protect.

Otherwise, there is no chance of succeeding in addressing global challenges ranging from gender equality to food security, from human rights to inclusive governance, and from climate change and disaster recovery. pandemic to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Much of the answer lies in a fundamental change in Moscow, and Russia’s exit from foreign lands, the return to the rule of law and the fulfillment of all its international obligations – this is also the greatest guarantee of Russia’s security and progress.