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UN General Assembly votes for Russian reparations to Ukraine with low support

The UN General Assembly on Monday approved a resolution calling for Russia to be held accountable for invading Ukraine in violation of international law, including by making reparations for extensive harm done to UkrainePremium
The UN General Assembly on Monday approved a resolution calling for Russia to be held accountable for invading Ukraine in violation of international law, including by making reparations for extensive harm done to Ukraine

he U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday calling for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine including by paying reparations for widespread damage

The UN General Assembly on Monday approved a resolution calling for Russia to be held accountable for invading Ukraine in violation of international law, including by making reparations for extensive harm done to the nation and for Ukrainians killed and injured in the conflict. There were 73 abstentions in the 193-member international organization's 94-14 vote. It was nearly the lowest level of support for any of the five resolutions about Ukraine that the General Assembly had passed since Russia invaded its smaller neighbour on 24 February.

A "global mechanism for reparation for damage, loss, or injury" resulting from Russia's "wrongful acts" against Ukraine is recognised as necessary by the resolution.

It suggests that the assembly's members establish "an international register" to record claims and details on harm, loss, or damage to Ukrainians and the government brought on by Russia, in collaboration with Ukraine.

Before the vote, Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the assembly that “Russia has tried its best to destroy Ukraine -- in a very literal sense."

He cited the fact that Russia has been bombing and shelling cities and villages since the beginning of the conflict, "targeting everything from plants and factories to residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and kindergartens," in addition to roads, bridges, and railways. In the past month alone, Russia has also destroyed nearly half of Ukraine's power grid and utilities. Additionally, he cited reports of murder, rape, torture, forced deportations, and looting carried out by Russians in areas they occupied.

Kyslytsya said., “Ukraine will have the daunting task of rebuilding the country and recovering from this war. But that recovery will never be complete without a sense of justice for the victims of the Russian war."

“It is time to hold Russia accountable," he strssed.

Vassily Nebenzia, the ambassador of Russia to the United Nations, pleaded with the assembly to reject the resolution, describing it as "an attempt to legalise something from the view of existing international law cannot be legalised." He declared that it is "legally null and void."

Nebenzia charged that the West was "doing everything it can to provide a veneer of legitimacy" to begin spending "frozen Russian assets amounting to billions of dollars," or rather, "stolen Russian assets." Furthermore, he charged that the West was attempting to use a General Assembly decision "as a cover to conceal this open robbery" whose "beneficiaries will end up being the Western military corporations."

He warned that approval of the resolution “can only increase tension and instability in the entire world," and said supporters of the resolution “will become implicated in illegal expropriation of sovereign assets of a third country."

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, Russia has used its veto power in the Security Council, which consists of 15 members, to prevent any action from being taken. But the General Assembly, which has already passed four resolutions condemning Russia's invasion, lacks veto power.

While General Assembly resolutions lack the same force of law as those passed by the Security Council, they do serve as a proxy for global sentiment and have shown a strong public backlash against Russia's military action.

The resolution adopted Monday was sponsored by Canada, Guatemala, Netherlands and Ukraine and co-sponsored by dozens of others.

It reaffirms the General Assembly’s commitment to Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity" and reiterates its demand for Russia to immediately “cease its use of force against Ukraine" and withdraw all its forces from Ukrainian territory.

It also expresses “grave concern at the loss of life, civilian displacement, destruction of infrastructure and natural resources, loss of public and private property, and economic calamity caused by the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine."

The resolution cites Article 14 of the UN Charter, which grants the General Assembly the power to "recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation... which it considers likely to impair the general welfare of friendly relations among nations," including Charter violations.

It also refers to a General Assembly resolution adopted on Dec. 16, 2005, titled “Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law."

Past UN resolutions against Russian invasion of Ukraine

The General Assembly adopted its first resolution on 2 March by a vote of 141 to 5, with 35 abstentions, shortly after Russia invaded. This resolution demanded an immediate Russian cease-fire, the removal of all Russian troops, and protection for all civilians.

On 24 March, the assembly passed a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, protection for millions of civilians, and protection for the homes, schools, and hospitals that are essential to their survival, blaming Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. It received 140 votes in favour, 5 against, and 38 abstentions.

The assembly's vote on 7 April to suspend Russia from the UN's Geneva-based Human Rights Council over claims that Russian soldiers in Ukraine committed rights violations that the United States and Ukraine have called war crimes was defeated 93-24 with 58 abstentions.

As a sign of the strong international opposition to the seven-month war and Moscow's attempt to seize its neighbor's territory, the assembly overwhelmingly voted on 12 October to condemn Russia's "attempted illegal annexation" of four Ukrainian regions and demand its immediate reversal. The vote in the 193-member world body was 143-5 with 35 abstentions. It was the strongest support from the General Assembly for Ukraine and against Russia of the four resolutions it has approved since Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

(With inputs from AP)

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