Thank you for making this summit possible.
It is only fair that this seminal session falls within the Presidency of Ethiopia – a nation with an outstanding peacekeeping record.
It is truism that, to be up to speed with unpredictable world, UN peacekeeping endeavor badly needs reform – as does the whole UN system.
That is why it is exactly the high time to assess the current state of play, ongoing reform efforts and prospects of UN peacekeeping.
I sincerely hope that this debate, along with the resolution we have just adopted, and which Ukraine has cosponsored, will contribute to this vital exercise.
I have to admit that since the last discussion of the issue at the Leaders Summit in 2015, the world is getting less and less safe.
War and aggression are spreading.
Peace and goodwill are in retreat.
Our Organization, which was created to secure peace and stability in the world, cannot and must not afford to stand aside.
It must be proactive, as it was outlined in the reviews of UN Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding capabilities.
Reviews that regrettably remain under-implemented in practice.
In this light, we welcome and fully support the efforts of the Secretary-General to develop and implement a robust, comprehensive UN reform agenda.
Agenda with a focus being rightly placed on strengthening the UN peace and security architecture.
I see a number of essential ingredients for success here.
To begin with, it is the truly proactive role of the Secretary-General in carrying out his responsibilities in accordance with Article 99 of the UN Charter.
No less important is the task of protection of civilians that has evolved into an integral part of UN peacekeeping.
Due attention should also be given to securing proper funding and sufficient capabilities, including aviation assets, advanced intelligence and modern technologies.
Moving from traditional peacekeeping to cost-effective “smart peacekeeping” is long overdue.
Last but not least, I commend your initiative, Mr. Secretary-General, to eradicate the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse.
The scourge which continues to overshadow UN peacekeeping achievements.
Being a responsible UN member state, Ukraine has signed the relevant Compact with the Secretary-General.
We look forward to its early implementation across all UN operations.
I am proud that Ukraine has been a strong partner of this Organization in peacekeeping activities for many years.
Ukrainian blue helmets have participated in UN operations throughout the world.
In many cases, they indeed were instrumental in reaching peace – from the Balkans to Africa.
Ukraine’s involvement in UN peacekeeping did not halt even at the height of the armed attack on my country by the Russian Federation.
But, today we need the UN’s peacekeeping shoulder too.
As you are well aware, in 2014 Russia unleashed an armed aggression against Ukraine and occupied a part of its territory.
The Russia’s mantra that «we are not there» does not hold water.
There are undeniable facts that Russia creates, leads, controls and sponsors terrorists operating in Donbas.
This is another evidence - these are IDs of Russian officers and soldiers (the President has demonstrated the relevant documents), some of them are in Ukrainian prisons, for their illegal actions on the occupation of Ukrainian land.
A three-year-long Russia’s aggression has cost Ukraine over 10 thousand people killed, about 25,000 wounded and about 1.8 million internally displaced.
In order to restore peace in my country, back in spring 2015, I officially requested the President of the Security Council to initiate appropriate procedures for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation in Ukraine.
It has since gained additional urgency.
The situation is not getting better in the Donbas region.
Despite repeated cease-fire initiatives, ordinary people continue to suffer.
The Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine recorded 161 conflict-related civilian casualties in the period from mid-May to August 2017, with 26 deaths and 135 injuries. Just think of these numbers. And this is happening in the 21-th century, in the heart of Europe!
People’s rights to life, liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience continue to be violated on a daily basis.
They can be killed for going to a wrong church, speaking a wrong language – or just disagreeing.
If tragedy on this scale doesn’t warrant UN peace presence, than what does?!
In this regard, I would like to reaffirm my request to this Council to deploy peacekeepers in Donbas – we need to move forward on this track, the sooner – the better.
I therefore welcome the start of exchange among Council members on the way forward. Ukraine is ready to participate constructively.
I must, at the same time, reiterate that a road to effective peacekeeping – and, eventually, to the settlement – lies through unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military personnel, mercenaries, their weapons and equipment from Ukraine.
Moreover, reliable international control over the temporarily uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian state border should be secured.
This is the key, as there can be no success in bringing peace in Donbas without preventing Russian troops, arms, equipment and mercenaries to continue to infiltrate into Donbas.
Deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation should restore justice, rather than freeze the conflict and cement the occupation.
And the justice would be: to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty over its territory.
The justice would be: to make sure that no one can take away Ukraine’s freedom.
While designing this mission all UN peace-keeping principles should be observed.
And we will insist on this throughout the negotiation process, no matter how long will it take.
Let me also reaffirm the invitation to the Secretary-General to exercise his authority under the Charter and to send a Technical Assessment Mission to Ukraine.
Based on the mission’s analysis, possible options of the UN political and security presence in Donbas should be elaborated and presented for further consideration to the Security Council.
We expect such mission to analyze and assess the overall situation on the ground.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to underline that peacekeeping remains one of the effective instruments to make our world a safer and secure place.
In this regard, let me underscore Ukraine’s unwavering commitment to the UN peacekeeping endeavor.