VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, President of Ukraine, said that if Member States want to reanimate the United Nations, they must start with its Charter, which does not contain the words “each shall fend for themselves”. While it is time for the international community to wake up, “Ukraine never slept — it’s hard to do that to the sound of explosions and gunfire”. Referring to the occupied Donbas territory, he noted 15,000 lives have been lost in the conflict. “That is the price of freedom,” he stated. The United Nations should become more mobile and agile, and present in places where it can witness global problems. Citing Ukrainian troop evacuations from Afghanistan, including of media representatives from Canada, he noted: “this is genuine commitment to the fundamental principles of the United Nations.”
With 46 States supporting Ukraine’s Crimean Platform initiative on de-occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula, he said that if Member States are to reform the United Nations, “there are no untouchables in this forum of 193 equal nations.” Stating that “national sovereignty is the freedom to choose a destiny for a people and nation,” he noted he was quoting in Russian from a speech by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin from 2007. He called for the release of a Tatar political scientist and journalist, detained in September by the Russian Federation and charged with an attempted gas pipeline explosion earlier, as well as the release of 450 Ukrainians unlawfully detained in the temporarily occupied territories. While expressing appreciation that the occupation has been included as an item on the General Assembly agenda, he asked: “How could it not be?”
Crimea hosted the Yalta Conference in 1946, he recalled, setting the foundation for world peace and the creation of the United Nations. He asked how the United Nations can be reanimated when the very cradle of its founding is occupied by a Member State. Referring to protection of the environment in the context of Crimea, he said the issue is addressing not flora and fauna but navy and soldiers. For Ukrainians, the biggest problem is not global warming but global devastation, while the international community acts not as leaders but politicians.
While the Russian Federation issues passports to Ukrainians, he stated the Crimea Platform should operate under the auspices of the United Nations, which “is not this building, but leaders”. “The United Nations is like a retired superhero who has forgotten how great they once were,” he stated. Recalling initiatives, including providing access to drinking water for 1 billion people, eradicating apartheid, the work of the “Blue Helmets”, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) — protecting 1154 unique world heritage sites — and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), he stressed: “It will never be banal or outdated to call for unity for their sake”.