UN Draft Resolution: Any Peace Must Keep Ukraine Intact

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Ukraine's supporters have circulated a proposed resolution for adoption by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of its smaller neighbor that would underscore the need for peace ensuring Ukraine's "sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity."

The draft, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, is entitled "Principles underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine."

The proposed resolution is broader and less detailed than the 10-point peace plan that Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced at the November summit of the Group of 20 major economies. This was a deliberate decision by Ukraine and its backers to try to gain maximum support when it is put to a vote, U.N. diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private.

General Assembly spokesperson Paulina Kubiak said Friday that a reactivated emergency session of the General Assembly on Ukraine will start on the afternoon of Feb. 22. Dozens of speeches are expected to continue through most of Feb. 23 and the vote is expected late that day.

Ukraine's deputy foreign minister said last month that Zelenskyy wants to come to the U.N. for the anniversary, but diplomats said expectations of a major new Russian offensive may keep him at home.

The General Assembly has become the most important U.N. body dealing with Ukraine because the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, is paralyzed because of Russia's veto power. Unlike the council, there are no vetoes in the assembly, but while its five previous resolutions on Ukraine are important as a reflection of world opinion, they are not legally binding.

The Security Council will hold a ministerial meeting on Feb. 24, the anniversary of the invasion. Russian and Ukrainian diplomats will be at the same table, as they have been at dozens of meetings since the invasion -- but there will be no outcome.

The Ukrainian-backed draft resolution for the anniversary was circulated Thursday night to all U.N. member nations except Russia and its ally Belarus, and negotiations on the text started Friday afternoon, the diplomats said.

It underscores the need to reach "a comprehensive, just and lasting peace" in Ukraine "as soon as possible" in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

The Charter states that all U.N. member nations "shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state," and must settle disputes peacefully.

The draft calls on U.N. member states and international organizations "to redouble support for diplomatic efforts" to achieve peace on those terms.

The proposed resolution reiterates the General Assembly's previous demand that Russia "immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces" from Ukraine's internationally recognized borders. And it reaffirms that no territory acquired by the threat or use of force will be considered legal.

The draft demands that all prisoners of war, detainees and internees be treated in accordance with the Geneva conventions and calls for the "complete exchange" of prisoners of war, the release of people unlawfully detained, "and the return of all internees and of civilians forcibly transferred and deported, including children."

The proposed resolution urges all countries "to cooperate in the spirit of solidarity to address the global impact of the war on food security, energy, finance, the environment, and nuclear security and safety."

It would deplore "the dire human rights and humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine, including the continuous attacks against critical infrastructure across Ukraine with devastating consequences for civilians." And it would call for full adherence to international humanitarian law on the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Zelenskyy's 10-point plan is far more specific, including establishing a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes, building a European-Atlantic security architecture with guarantees for Ukraine, restoring Ukraine's damaged power infrastructure and ensuring safety around Europe's largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia.

The resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Oct. 12 condemning Russia's "attempted illegal annexation" of four Ukrainian regions and demanding its immediate reversal got the highest vote of the five resolutions – 143-5 with 35 abstentions.

The first resolution adopted by the assembly on March 2, 2022, days after the invasion, demanded an immediate Russian cease-fire, withdrawal of all its troops and protection for all civilians and received a strong vote – 141-5 with 35 abstentions. Three weeks later, on March 24, the assembly voted 140-5 with 38 abstentions on a resolution blaming Russia for Ukraine's humanitarian crisis and urging an immediate cease-fire and protection for millions of civilians and the homes, schools and hospitals critical to their survival.

But the assembly voted by a far smaller margin April 7 to suspend Russia from the U.N.'s Geneva-based Human Rights Council over allegations Russian soldiers in Ukraine engaged in rights violations that the United States and Ukraine have called war crimes. That vote was 93-24 with 58 abstentions.

And its last resolution adopted Nov. 14 calling for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine, including by paying reparations for widespread damage to the country and for Ukrainians killed and injured during the war was approved by a similar vote -- 94-14 with 73 abstentions.