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Minister for Foreing Affairs of Ukraine

In the general debate of the 54th session Of the United Nations General Assembly
21 September 1999, New York


Allow me, first of all, to extend my most sincere congratulations on your election to the Presidency of the 54th session of the General Assembly and wish you every success in discharging this extremely responsible mission. This election is a well-deserved tribute to the personal qualities of the distinguished dean of African Foreign Ministers, as well as an evidence of the indisputable authority your country enjoys among the members of the international community. An active and responsible position of Namibia as a member of the Security Council serves as another confirmation of the right choice made by this General Assembly.

I would also like to express our gratitude to your predecessor Mr. Didier Opertti for his effective organization of the work of the 53rd session of the General Assembly.

In addition, I have a pleasure to greet three new UN members - Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru and the Kingdom of Tonga. Ukraine sincerely welcomes you into our family.

Mr. Secretary General,

Distinguished Delegates,

The 20th century will remain in the history of mankind as a century of unprecedented clashes of ideologies with subsequent division of the world. However, the last ten years have been marked rather by entente universelle to build this world on the basis of respect for cultural diversity and universally recognized values. This tumultuous period of transition from bloc rivalry to rapprochement and cooperation obviously lacks stability and clear vision. That is why the role of the United Nations, a firm anchor in these troubled waters, grows immensely for all of its Member States.

I would like to place a special emphasis on one fundamental factor that stipulates the significance of the United Nations, determines its universal meaningfulness. On the eve of the 21st century, we have to admit that the mankind is still far away from achieving the purposes proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations. But at the same time, we must recognize that this document, which has withstood the tests of time, remains the most ambitious, yet the most realistic code of world order for more than half a century. There exists no alternative to the order defined by the rules and principles of the United Nations. As no alternative exists to the Organization itself which is destined to be a center for coordinated actions of nations in achieving and maintaining such order.

This vision of the significance of the Organization in international life prompts active position of Ukraine in carrying out concerted efforts, aimed at strengthening the United Nations. Two years ago, we all welcomed the program of institutional reforms put forward by the Secretary-General, which were designed to adapt the Organization to the up-to-date requirements and to ensure its ability to promptly respond to the challenges of the time. A powerful start, however, turned into a slow pace, while our initial optimism and our readiness to go ahead with the programme of reforms of the UN remained largely unrealised.
This sort of criticism is furthermore pertinent when it comes to the reform of the principal UN organ entrusted with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. For years, all of us seem to be in agreement on the necessity to modernize the Security Council, replenish it with new energy and fresh ideas. I am confident that a new impetus should be given to the work of the Working Group on the Security Council reform to get the matter off the ground in the course of the current session.

What could be our response to the challenges that haunt the humankind for the last 55 years?

 1. The most important conclusion that we may draw from all deficiencies of the United Nations is this: if the Organization had managed to unite the nations around the basic universal values, it should have adequate tools to protect these values. Universal values must enjoy full support by means of legal, political, economic and military enforcement.

2. The age of a stable confrontation is giving way to the age of a stable cooperation. We should create such a world order whereby it would be in no-one`s self-interest to wage wars, oppress national minorities or exert economic pressure on other nations. A broad, rammified system of regional and subregional cooperation can serve this purpose, upholding the universal code of conduct.

In this context I wish to refer to the recent summit held in the Ukrainian city of Yalta called “Baltic-Black Sea Cooperation: towards united Europe of the 21st century without dividing lines”. Without any exaggeration, there is an unavoidable parallel with the Yalta-45. That post-war summit was an example of how three persons decided the fate of the world and divided Europe. The Yalta-99 to the contrary evidenced how 22 neighbouring nations found sufficient motivation to resolve their problems together and be unanimous in determining their future in a united Europe.

Mr. President,

We are particularly encouraged by the increased attention of the Security Council and the United Nations in general to the humanitarian issues. A major lesson learnt from the eruption of numerous local and regional conflicts was the recognition of obvious and urgent need to respond to the challenges posed by humanitarian crises, mass and flagrant violations of human rights.

The primary role of the Security Council in maintaining and restoring international peace has to be reiterated. This role is expressed in the clear and proud language of the Charter.
The past and continuing experience of the Council underscores the importance of the adoption of a holistic approach putting into prominence both security and humanitarian issues. As Secretary General Kofi Annan innovatively put it yesterday: a global era requires global engagement, and the collective interest is the national interest.
How could this ambitious goal be achieved?

The important step to move towards the goal of the protection of human life and dignity is, of course, the ongoing process of establishing the International Criminal Court.
Today, a year after the remarkable conclusion of the Rome Diplomatic Conference, we are pleased to observe that the significance of the adoption of the Court’s Statute is widely and rightly recognized not only in its relation to the codification and progressive development of the international law but also to the future system of international security for the next century.

It is this perception of the nature and the purposes of the future judicial institution that determines the position of the Government of Ukraine as regards the signing of the Rome Statute. I would like to use this opportunity to inform distinguished delegates that Ukraine intends to sign the Statute in the course of the current General Assembly session.

Mr. President,

Being guided by an approach that the UN and regional organizations should play a key role in conflict prevention, Ukraine was one of the first to come forward with peaceful proposals at the initial stage of the Kosovo crisis. The Peace Plan of the President L.Kuchma of Ukraine proved to be reaslistic, since most of its provisions were consonant with the provisions of Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council.

For years Ukraine has been active in UN peacekeeping operations. Last July the President and Parliament of Ukraine decided to send Ukraine’s 800-strong contingent to participate in KFOR. The Ukrainian military have gained a high positive profile, deserved earlier in UNPROFOR, and then in IFOR and SFOR in Bosnia. Their expertise and contribution outweigh by large the entailed financial costs. We fully recognize our share of responsibility for the common cause of restoring and strengthening peace in the Balkans.

Simultaneously, recent events in Kosovo or East Timor evidence that we should continue to increase the level of security for peacekeepers. Ukraine as a co-author of the Convention on Safety of UN and Associated Personnel appeals to elaborate further practical measures to implement its provisions.

A lesson of Kosovo proves that as long as human or national minorities rights and international law are ignored, the world will continue to be threatened by humanitarian disasters. Therefore, it is necessary to pay special attention to the regions with the so called “frozen” conflicts – potential  spots of new outbursts of violence, flows of refugees and economic recession. As a guarantor of peaceful settlement in Transdniestria (Moldova), active supporter of the peaceful process in Abkhazia (Georgia) and Nagorny Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Ukraine makes its utmost to translate the relevant agreements into real peace settlement.

In post-conflict rehabilitation joint efforts are also necessary. Therefore Ukraine welcomes both the idea and adoption of the Stability Pact for South East Europe and actively proposes specific projects in cooperation with its neighbors. The Pact is not only to help reconstruct the Balkans, but most important – to give these countries a clear European integration perspective.

Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures remains the key priority of Ukraine`s foreign policy. Membership in the family of European nations, sharing common values means economic growth, stable democratic development, consolidation of the European identity of Ukrainians.

At the regional level Ukraine is an active participant of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Council of the Baltic Sea States, Central European Initiative, GUUAM forum which stands for Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova.
 I have mentioned the Yalta Conference and summit of leaders from Baltic and Black Sea states. In addition, last May Ukraine hosted the summit of 8 Central European states. We are developing confidence-building measures on the bilateral basis with our neighbours and in the multilateral framework to reduce naval military activity in the Black Sea region. Pursuing the line that intensive cooperation is the best remedy for conflicts, Ukraine is engaged in various trilateral cooperative agreements promoting free economic areas and transborder projects.

Mr. President,

Ukraine as one of the founders of the United Nations continues to make its contribution to the UN efforts in strengthening international peace and security, non-proliferation regime, disarmament and arms control, crisis management, promotion of economic and social development, human rights and freedoms, compliance with fundamental principles of international law. By fostering internal harmony in the society, projecting stability on its environment, shaping a vast network of regional cooperation, Ukraine strives to make the fullest possible use of its rich experience and constructive potential for the benefit of the whole international community.
Over three years ago Ukraine has voluntarily renounced its world`s third largest nuclear stockpile and strictly abides by its commitments as a non-nuclear state.

We should multiply our efforts to enhance the efficiency and universality of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In this context, it is of utmost importance to break a stalemate in the preparatory process for the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

Ukraine has signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and is now successfully completing legislative procedures to bring into force her international obligations under this


Last February our country became a Party to the Ottawa Convention on the Banning of Anti-Personnel Mines (APM), while in March Ukraine’s Government decided to prolong the Moratorium on Exports of All Types of APM.

My country is ready to participate in the development of collective measures to fight proliferation and illegal trafficking of small arms and light weapons. We support the initiative of Canada and the Netherlands to establish international regime of control over light weapons and to start negotiations on working out a Convention on Prevention and Combating Illegal Transportation of Fire-Arms and Light Weapons.

Realizing the danger of uncontrolled circulation and accumulation of conventional weapons, Ukraine is strictly abiding by the UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions imposing restrictions on international arms trafficking.

All this explains Ukraine’s ambition to be elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. All the more so, since it is our first bid for this seat as an independent state.

If elected, Ukraine would formulate its position in the Security Council based on the following fundamental principles:
- to pay adequate attention to conflicts and tense situations in different parts of the world judging by real requirements of each particular case;
- to use all political and diplomatic means available to the Security Council to prevent or manage conflicts;
- to increase importance of the humanitarian dimension among the Council’s priorities;
- to enhance possibilities for non-members of the Security Council to influence the decision-making process in this body.
 Besides, there is a need to analyze the present mechanism of sanctions in terms of their balanced and well-grounded imposement, in particular taking into account eventual negative consequences for the “third countries”.

Mr. President,

Ukraine remains deeply concerned with the problems of Africa. Those concerns are nurtured by strong traditional ties of friendship uniting Ukraine with African nations. One will hardly disagree that Africa is a continent which has unlimited potential for economic and social development. At the same time, it is absolutely imperative that the international community takes very concrete and efficient steps in order to assist African states in developing that potential and responding to challenges facing their continent.

Nowadays, it is difficult to blame the United Nations for the lack of attention to Africa. For example, in just a few days the Security Council will hold an official meeting to reaffirm its commitment to the cause of peace and prosperity in Africa. Intending to make my delegation’s contribution to the deliberations in the Council, I will present more specific remarks on the matter in the course of that meeting. At the same time, Ukraine hopes very much that commitment to Africa on the part of the Security Council and the United Nations as a whole will be met with concrete deeds that benefit Africa.

Situation in the Middle East requires closer attention on the part of the Security Council. We believe that the Security Council should send stronger encouragement to all the parties of the Middle East peace process. It is time to come back to the negotiation table to find a final compromise solution to the pending problems on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions. In this context, Ukraine welcomes the recent signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on the 4th of September, which was brought about due to the constructive approach of the new Israeli Government and the position taken by the Palestinian leadership.
East Timor continues to be a hot spot on the planet. Ukraine welcomed the success of the “popular consultation” of the East Timorese people on 30 August 1999 which was possible due to the constructive position of the Government of Indonesia and active intermediary mission of the UN Secretary-General. Ukraine supported adoption by the Security Council of resolution 1264 which authorised establishment of a multinational force, pursuant to the request of the Government of Indonesia.

The past year was marked by an unprecedented outbreak of terrorist acts in different parts of the world. We are convinced that the intensification of international efforts in combating terrorism needs a more concentrated focus on the underlying causes of this extremely acute international phenomenon, its deep social roots and historical conditions, as well as on situations that may give rise to international terrorism and endanger international peace and security.

At the same time, whatever actions are being undertaken at international, regional or national levels, all of such actions must be in all conformity with the basic principles of international law and not run against the fundamental provisions of the United Nations Charter.

Mr. President,

Underdevelopment and impoverishment, threat of marginalization, burden of external debts, lack of resources, ecological disasters present a real danger for international peace and sustainable development. Such contingencies as the global financial crisis or the war in Kosovo considerably impeded economic progress in many parts of the world.
Ukraine managed to curb its losses and maintain macroeconomic stabilization since August 1998. On the other hand, terminated navigation on the Danube had paralyzed economic activity of Ukrainian shipping companies, ports and enterprises. The total accumulated losses of Ukraine amount today to more than $ 300 mln. Together with Romania, Bulgaria and other interested parties we are ready to clean the waterway for the soonest resumption of navigation as the best way to cope with humanitarian hardships of Balkan peoples.

Mr. President,

Speaking about global issues requiring joint efforts of the international community, I must again re-emphasize the problem of Chornobyl, so painful for Ukraine and its neighbours Belarus and Russia. Our country meets its commitments to decommission Chornobyl NPP as envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Ukraine and Governments of G7 and EU, and therefore has all grounds to expect the fulfillment of the obligations by the partners. We welcomed the G7 Statement in Cologne last June to convene the Second Pledging Conference for mobilization of financial resources to implement the Working Plan on the transformation of "Shelter" facility into ecologically safe system. We consider this fact as a confirmation by the partners of their commitment to the Memorandum.
 From this rostrum I call upon all potential donors to take part in the mentioned conference and to make pledges into filling the Chornobyl Shelter fund to the required amount of 770 mln. USD. According to the UN Report on human development, only in 1998 expenditures for cigarettes in Europe amounted to 50 bln. USD. Compared to this, the amount for Chornobyl looks quite small to save the environment of the vast region.

Mr President,

The present century gave the world such a notable document as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Still, we had witnessed the most brutal and massive violations of these rights. Famine, genocide, ethnic cleansing, tortures, various forms of discrimination continue to haunt the mankind.

That is why strengthening of international mechanisms of monitoring violations of human rights is especially urgent today. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should play a leading role. The cases of the most massive violations of human rights should be considered by the UN Security Council in order to take preventive or coercive measures.

Hence, it is imperative to strengthen the role of international law in international relations, to ensure strict observance of its main norms and principles, first of all respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes. Ukraine continues to support the International Court of Justice as the principal legal institution of the Organization.

Mr. President,

The establishment of a world system which would guarantee peace and security, prosperity and sustainable economic development, preservation of the environment for future generations requires decisive joint actions of the international community. This process should be led by the reformed and renovated United Nations, which has great experience and possibilities to solve the problems of global dimension.

For that purpose we have approved the comprehensive program of the UN reform, by the way initiated during the UN GA Presidency of Ukrainian representative Mr. Gennadiy Udovenko who is present with us here today. But while debating it we did not notice as two years had passed and we approached the brink of the millennium. Prominent Ukrainian philosopher of the 18th century Hryhoriy Skovoroda said: "Waste of time is the heaviest of all losses". Let us bring into life what we have conceived for the benefit of the United Nations.

I thank you for your attention.

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