South Africa’s proposed resolution on providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine was defeated in the UN General Assembly on Thursday — because it did not blame Russia for the humanitarian crisis.
Instead, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved — by 140 to five votes — a resolution introduced by Ukraine which squarely attributed the blame to Moscow. It also urged an immediate ceasefire and protection for millions of civilians and the homes, schools and hospitals critical to their survival.
Only Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea joined Russia in opposing the resolution. They had also voted with Moscow against a General Assembly resolution on 2 March, condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and demanding that it withdraw its forces.
There were 38 abstentions from Thursday’s resolution on providing humanitarian aid, including Russia’s ally China. Unusually, the General Assembly, after adopting Ukraine’s resolution, then voted on South Africa’s text, which excluded any reference to Russia to try to win Moscow’s approval and ensure that humanitarian aid could be delivered.
Pretoria’s resolution was defeated by a vote of 50 for to 67 against, South African officials said. The officials were not too dismayed because they had not lobbied anyone very hard to support their resolution — as Western governments had to support Ukraine’s one.
The officials also said the vote on their resolution had to be assessed in light of the fact that many nations had not bothered to vote at all after Ukraine’s resolution had been adopted.
They said the South African text largely followed Ukraine’s — except for not mentioning Russia. Officials explained that they had done that to try to ensure that Russia supported the text and implemented it. They pointed out that it was pointless if Russia opposed the resolution since its support was vital to allowing humanitarian aid to reach Ukraine.
One official said that in an effort to win support from Western and other nations for South Africa’s resolution, Pretoria had proposed to include a paragraph that would have recalled the 2 March resolution that condemned Russia’s invasion.
Several Western diplomats had supported that idea, but in the end, their governments rejected it. A South African official said Thursday’s vote would probably not end the matter.
Russia was unlikely to accept the demand for humanitarian assistance couched in such strong criticism and so the issue was likely to return to the General Assembly.
The Ukraine resolution deplored the “dire humanitarian consequences” of Russia’s aggression which it said were “on a scale that the international community has not seen in Europe in decades”. It specifically condemned Russia’s shelling of densely populated cities, including the southern city of Mariupol and demanded unhindered access for humanitarian aid. DM