Statement to UN Security Council high-level open debate on maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine

  • Speech, check against delivery
New York

Thank you, President, and thank you for convening this important high-level open debate.

And I acknowledge all distinguished colleagues, in particular the Ukrainian representative.

The Security Council has a singular responsibility to the people of the world for the maintenance of international peace and security.

And the establishment was a clear statement of intent by the nations of the world.

That the sovereignty of all Member States must be respected.

That larger countries should not be able to determine the fate of smaller countries.

That disagreement should not spiral into war.

When the Council was established, its members took on a serious obligation.

Most especially its five permanent members, who were granted a power to veto the will of the Chamber.

Having this power demands of the P5 an obligation to prevent conflict, to not act as an aggressor, to lead by example in upholding the rules.

The veto was never intended to empower a country to abuse the UN Charter; to be above the law.

But it has been more than 570 days since Russia launched its illegal and immoral full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

A flagrant violation of the UN Charter by a Permanent Member of this body, the UN Security Council.

An attack on every Member State, on everyone at this table. 

Russia’s actions are driving the global crisis in food and energy security.

Its termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and its attacks on Ukrainian food infrastructure, have kept food from those who need it most.

But President, while the cost of Russia’s war is being paid by the world’s most vulnerable people, Ukraine suffers the most.

Russia has inflicted tragic loss of life and catastrophic damage across Ukraine. It has placed Ukraine’s very existence under threat.

It has torn apart families, abducting thousands of children – in an effort to re-educate those children to disavow their loved ones and hate their homeland.

This conflict has seen great cruelty – but removing a child from family to such ends is nothing short of abhorrent.

So Australia stands steadfast with the people of Ukraine, who continue to show extraordinary courage.

And we join with all those in calling for the return of Ukraine’s abducted children.

We contribute defence, economic and emergency humanitarian assistance – some 890 million Australian dollars so far – and we support Ukraine’s efforts to hold Russia to account.

And our objective, like so many others, is to help empower Ukraine to end this war on its own terms.

President, as UN Member States we all have a responsibility to call out Russia’s egregious behaviour.

And the rest of the permanent members must be utterly unyielding in their pressure on Russia to end this war.

Russia’s abuse of its veto is mocking us all.

It underlines the need for urgent reform of the Security Council, including constraints on the use of the veto.

It has never been more necessary for this Security Council to uphold the principle of the sovereign equality of all members of these United Nations.

That is the first principle of the UN Charter, and the very rationale for the United Nations itself.

Thank you.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555