After an acrimonious informal meeting on Ukraine, the UN Security Council came together formally for the first time to issue a statement that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “spoke with one voice for peace in Ukraine”.
Without mentioning names, the simple statement that can be described as toothless said on Friday: “The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine. The Security Council recalls that all Member States have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.”
The Council which had been paralysed by Russia’s veto power, managed for the first time since the Ukraine conflict took centre stage to agree on anything about it.
But the statement has no real impact on the situation as it was only an expression of concern and an acknowledgement of obligations without telling anyone what to do.
The statement also expressed support for the UN chief’s efforts to “search for a peaceful solution”.
Guterres followed it up with his own statement: “Today, for the first time, the Security Council spoke with one voice for peace in Ukraine. As I have often said, the world must come together to silence the guns and uphold the values of the UN Charter.”
He added that he welcomed the Council’s support and will spare no efforts to find peace.
He recently went on a peace mission to Moscow and Kiev to meet Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
The only tangible result to emerge from the journey was an agreement by Russia to allow a UN-sponsored evacuation of civilians from the Mariupol which is under siege by its troops.
Hammered out behind closed doors under the leadership of the United States which holds the council’s rotating presidency, it was announced in a session lasting just over a minute.
US Deputy Permanent Representative Richard Mills, who presided over the session, said that it was “in accordance with the understanding reached among the members of the Council”.
Earlier, Russia convened an informal meeting of the Council on what it said were violations of international humanitarian law by Ukraine.
Speaking at the meeting Pratik Mathur, a counsellor at India’s UN Mission called for an immediate end to the conflict.
“We continue to remain deeply concerned about the worsening situation in Ukraine.”
Noting that India has “strongly condemned the killing of civilians in Bucha and supported the call for an independent investigation”, he said: “We believe that no solution can be arrived at by shedding blood and at the cost of innocent lives.”
With videos and pictures at the meeting, Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia gave Moscow’s narrative of the conflict in which the Ukrainian military and militias kept civilians hostage, damaged Ukrainian property and tortured captured Russian soldiers.
The US’ UN Mission Political Coordinator Rodney Hunter countered by accusing Russia of “using the Security Council to spread disinformation, lies, and false narratives for years”.
But later came the unanimous statement at the US-led formal Council meeting.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed @arulouis)