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Russia vetoed a resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine presented to the UN Security Council in New York on Friday. Russia, which is one of five members of the Security Council with veto power, was the only delegation in the country to vote against the resolution which demanded that the Kremlin halt its assault and withdraw all its troops.
Despite being the only one of the council’s fifteen members to reject the resolution, Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN body meant the resolution was dropped.
Unlike other UN bodies, the Security Council has the power to authorize sanctions and even military force on behalf of the UN.
All 193 UN members must abide by its legally binding rulings, which could potentially deal a blow to Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
But as Russia holds one of the most powerful seats on the council – alongside the UK, US, China and France – experts warn it will be rendered futile in the dispute with the EU. ‘Ukraine.
Richard Gowan of the New York-based International Crisis Group, which monitors the UN, said the Security Council had “very limited leverage in this situation”.
Mr Gowan told Express.co.uk: “The harsh reality is that Russia’s right of veto means the Council cannot play a decisive role here. And if Putin cared about the UN Charter or diplomatic debates in New York, he wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine in the first place.
“Russia likes to have power in the Security Council, but does not feel obliged to respect it.”
He added, “I think the Council will primarily be a platform for the United States and its allies to trade rhetorical barbs with Russia as the war continues.”
The body has a rotating presidency which is currently held by Russia.
Moscow Ambassador Vasily Alekseevich Nebenzya was chairing an emergency Security Council meeting called to prevent a war in Ukraine on Wednesday when Putin announced the Russian offensive had begun.
Although Western powers such as the US, UK and European countries knew that Friday’s resolution would not pass due to Russia’s grip on the body, they greeted the vote as a a sign of Moscow’s isolation on the international scene.
Demonstrations in support of Ukraine took place outside the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.
The Security Council was holding an emergency session on Wednesday when the Russian invasion began.
China, India and the United Arab Emirates all abstained in the vote, another sign of the growing division between West and East following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Although the result did not indicate full condemnation of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, China’s abstention in particular was seen as a blow to the Kremlin, as Beijing refrained from supporting Putin’s aggression, although the Chinese delegation watered down the text before it was submitted to the council.
Mr Gowan said: “Russia will regret that China did not join it in vetoing this resolution. But Moscow will be glad the Chinese helped water down the resolution at the last minute by pushing for changes to water down the text.
“We now know that Beijing is unlikely to use its diplomatic clout to resolve this crisis, at least in public. It is to be hoped that the Chinese will be firmer with the Russians in private than in public.
The failure of the resolution paved the way for Council members to call for an urgent vote on a similar measure at the United Nations General Assembly, which brings together all 193 member states at the organization’s headquarters in New York.
The meeting began on Monday with a rare minute of silence for Ukraine before General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives renewed his calls for an immediate ceasefire.
It was the body’s first emergency meeting since 1982.
Mr Shahid called on the parties to seize a “rare” opportunity for dialogue to “significantly and quickly de-escalate” the situation, referring to peace talks between delegates from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus.
Although a statement condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine is more likely to pass in the general assembly, where Russia has no veto power, it will not be legally binding.
Its main purpose would be to send a message to Putin that he will not find support from world powers.
Mr Gowan said: “A majority of UN members sympathize with Ukraine and will support a resolution condemning Moscow’s actions. This may boost Ukraine’s morale, but the actual powers of the Assembly are quite limited.
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Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya addressed the UN General Assembly on Monday.
Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia announced that 11 diplomats from Moscow had been expelled from the United States.
Phil Lynch of the International Service for Human Rights, which monitors the UN in New York and its European headquarters in Geneva, agreed that the General Assembly must intervene while the Security Council is paralyzed.
Lynch also said the Human Rights Council, which is due to hold an urgent meeting on Ukraine this week, should pass a resolution condemning Russia’s actions and setting up an independent mechanism to monitor violations. in Ukraine.
He told Express.co.uk: “With the UN Security Council crippled by Russia’s right to veto as a permanent member, it is imperative that the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council United Nations Human Rights Committees intensify and fulfill their vital mandates to promote and protect human rights and international peace and security.
There have been growing calls in the international community for Russia to be expelled from the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council, as its power in the body undermines its power.
Efforts are underway to challenge Russia’s right to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council on the grounds that it took the seat from the Soviet Union after its collapse in 1991 without proper authorization.
Diplomats are reportedly investigating whether this warrants Russia being removed from the corps.
NGOs are also calling for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council, which is authorized by UN mechanisms.
Mr. Lynch explained: “States should also push for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council, with the General Assembly conferring the power to suspend when a member is responsible for widespread and systematic violations.
“This threshold has been reached by Russia and it is essential for the integrity of the Council that it is not allowed to sit at the High Table of Human Rights.”
He added: “Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine is a flagrant violation of international law and is already leading to massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
Majority of UN member states have made it clear they support Ukraine in the face of Russia’s onslaught, with secretary-general decrying Putin’s invasion at general assembly opening in New York York Monday.
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UN chief António Guterres told the UNGA meeting that the fighting in Ukraine must end.
Protesters gathered outside the UN as the Russian invasion continued for a fifth day.
António Guterres declared that “the fighting in Ukraine must stop”, adding: “Enough is enough”.
The top UN leader also called the alerting of Russian nuclear defenses a “frightening development” after President Putin announced the move on Sunday.
Mr Guterres said: “The mere idea of nuclear development is simply inconceivable.
“Nothing can justify the use of nuclear weapons.”
Mr. Gowan warned that while Mr. Guterres’ words were welcomed by countries around the world, his strong condemnation of Russia could weaken the power of the UN as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine. .
He explained: “Guterres spoke out strongly against Russia’s actions last week. But in doing so, he has damaged his ties with Moscow, so it will be difficult for him to act as a mediator on Ukraine.
“Nevertheless, I think it was essential for Guterres to express himself in this way. The Secretary-General still carries some weight in international media and diplomatic circles as a moral authority.
Mr. Gowan warned that the conflict in Ukraine could deal a devastating blow to the UN’s already declining reputation and weaken the position of Western powers.
He said: “The reputation of the United Nations in Europe never recovered from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. I believe that this tragic episode will only further damage its credibility with European policymakers and publics. .
“I fear that non-Western diplomats at the UN also see this fiasco as evidence of the loss of European and American influence, even if they can sympathize with Ukraine.”