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Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy tells UN either to reform or dissolve

Volodymyr Zelenskyy (on screen), President of Ukraine, addresses the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine on 5 April 2022. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

In a video speech delivered on Tuesday, 5 April 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy informed a meeting of the UN’s Security Council of mass atrocities committed by Russian forces against the civilian population of his country in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In particular, Zelenskyy told the council’s members of war crimes committed in Bucha, a town recently liberated from troops of the Russian Federation, which included executions, rape and torture. He pointed out that Russian troops are deliberately destroying Ukrainian cities with artillery and air strikes, creating mass starvation, shooting at civilians and targeting shelters.

“This is done by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council,” the President emphasized. As a permanent member, Russia used its veto right to block a resolution of the council condemning its actions. “We are dealing with a state that turns the right of veto in the UN Security Council into a right to kill. Which undermines the whole architecture of global security”, Zelenskyy pointed out in his speech. “The chain of mass killings from Syria to Somalia, from Afghanistan to Yemen and Libya should have been stopped a long time ago,” he said.

The chain of mass killings should have been stopped a long time ago

Zelenskyy urged the UN to reform its system of collective security “immediately”. He said that the goals underlying the UN’s foundation in 1945 were not achieved “and it is impossible to achieve them without reforms.” “If your current format is unalterable and there is simply no way out, then the only option would be to dissolve yourself altogether,” he told the Council’s members. Zelenskyy proposed that a global conference on how to reform the world security system should be held in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

The President stated that “we must do everything in our power to pass on to the next generations an effective UN with the ability to respond preventively to security challenges and thus guarantee peace. Prevent aggression and force aggressors to peace. Have the determination and ability to punish if the principles of peace are violated.”

On the same day the Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders, Andreas Bummel, was speaking virtually at a seminar of the School of Civic Education in Vienna which brought together citizens from Ukraine and Russia to discuss efforts to stop the war, among other things. In Russia, the school was labeled a “foreign agent” by Russian authorities and had to cease its operations in the Russian Federation.

Bummel said at the event that in 1945 the five big powers China, France, the Soviet Union, UK, and the United States had insisted on a privileged status at the UN and otherwise might not have helped establish and join the organization. However, he explained that at the time there was an agreement to review the arrangement within a period of ten years. “You can find this provision in Article 109 of the UN Charter and it is still valid,” Bummel said.

Due to the Cold War, the promise of reviewing the UN Charter was not kept and then forgotten according to Bummel. “Maybe now is a window of opportunity”, he told the audience as the UN’s failure once more was apparent in view of Russia’s war of aggression. “There is a dilemma because due to the Charter’s provisions, the veto powers legally would have to agree to abolish the veto power,” he pointed out.

According to Bummel, the UN should move from a state-centric to a people-centered model. In a discussion paper published previously on the design of a “renewed world organization for the 21st century”, he suggested, among other things, that today’s Security Council should be abolished and replaced by a “Joint Security Committee” elected by the General Assembly and a new World Parliamentary Assembly. In this model, there would be no permanent membership status and no single country would yield a veto right. 

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