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UN Resolution A/RES/68/262 Territorial Integrity of Ukraine

Published March 27, 2014

The members of the United Nations voted on Resolution A/RES/68/262, Territorial Integrity of Ukraine, and the resolution was adopted on March 27, 2014. The resolution is the UN's response to Russia's treaty with Ukraine about Russia annexing Crimea.

From the press release:

The General Assembly today affirmed its commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, underscoring the invalidity of the 16 March referendum held in autonomous Crimea.

By a recorded vote of 100 in favour to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the Assembly adopted a resolution titled "Territorial integrity of Ukraine", calling on States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, and to refrain from actions or dealings that might be interpreted as such.

Also by the text, the Assembly called on States to "desist and refrain" from actions aimed at disrupting Ukraine's national unity and territorial integrity, including by modifying its borders through the threat or use of force. It urged all parties immediately to pursue a peaceful resolution of the situation through direct political dialogue, to exercise restraint, and to refrain from unilateral actions and inflammatory rhetoric that could raise tensions.

Today's debate preceding the vote offered the first opportunity for the broader United Nations membership to air their view on the Crimea question. Many said the referendum had contravened international law, the United Nations Charter and Ukraine's Constitution, emphasizing that they would neither recognize it nor the Russian Federation's subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea.

Presenting the non-binding text was Ukraine's Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, who said that an integral part of his country had been forcibly annexed by a State that had previously committed itself to guaranteeing its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The draft resolution broke no new legal or normative ground, but sent an essential message that the international community would not allow events in Crimea to set a precedent for further challenges to the rules-based international framework.

Supporting those remarks, Georgia's representative said the situation in mainland Ukraine was reminiscent of the Russian Federation's seizure of Georgia's Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions in 2008, pointing out that 20 per cent of his country's territory remained under illegal Russian occupation.

The representative of the Republic of Moldova said the Crimea referendum was not legal because it contravened Ukraine's Constitution as well as international law. "The future of Ukraine can be considered and decided only upon the free will and aspirations of all Ukrainians themselves, without any outside influence," he emphasized. Turkey's representative stressed the need to ensure the security, well-being and rights of Crimean Tatar Turks, an integral part of the Crimean population.

The Russian Federation's representative said, however, that the referendum had reunified Crimea with his country. "We call on everyone to respect that voluntary choice." The Russian Government could not refuse Crimeans their right to self-determination, he said, blaming the political crisis in Ukraine on the "adventurous actions" of provocateurs whose actions had led to the reunification decision.

Several delegations explained their support for the text, with the Head of the European Union Delegation strongly condemning the illegal annexation, and the representative of the United States saying that today's resolution made clear that "borders are not mere suggestions". Coercion could not be the means by which self-determination was achieved.

Others took issue with the resolution's motivations, expressing regret that the Assembly had failed to consider the historical context of the geopolitical dispute and the nature of the regime change that had occurred in Ukraine.

El Salvador's representative, explaining his abstention, said the text neither reflected the difficulties of Ukrainians, nor helped to resolve the causes of the crisis. It neither called for dialogue, nor set a precedent for handling future inter- and intra-State tensions. Jamaica's representative added that the adoption would only delay the quest for a peaceful resolution.

Also speaking today were representatives of Brazil, Cuba, Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, Canada, Japan, China, Iceland, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Norway, Cyprus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, Guatemala, Nigeria, Chile, Singapore, Argentina, Qatar, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Viet Nam, Peru, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Ecuador, Belarus, Algeria, Honduras, Cabo Verde, Libya, Botswana, Paraguay and Armenia.

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