UN General Assembly Declares Crimea Referendum Invalid
Backs Territorial Sovereignty of Ukraine
UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations General Assembly adopted a measure on March 27, 2014, titled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”, that reaffirms Ukraine’s unity and territorial integrity, and states that the mid-March referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia “has no validity” and that the parties should “pursue immediately a peaceful resolution of the situation.”
By a vote of 100 in favor to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the Assembly called on all United Nations Member States, international organizations and specialized agencies to not recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the March 16, 2014, referendum “and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”
World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organization President Orysia Sushko, who was at the United Nations for the commemoration of the bicentennial of the birth of Taras Shevchenko to be commemorated later in the day, remarked about the adoption of the resolution, “We are extremely gratified that this resolution received a majority of votes and very little opposition. The high number of abstentions was unexpected, and if later media reports are accurate, were the result of pressure from Russia to block this resolution, which is disappointing, but not surprising. The reaction in Ukraine was very clever, to compare these 100 votes at the UN General Assembly to the Heavenly Hundred who were victims of the Maidan and was well received by representatives at the UN. And of course, we are most grateful that this resolution passed on the day that our national poet and national prophet, Taras Shevchenko, on the occasion of the bicentennial of his birth, was being commemorated at a UN event in honor of International Mother Language Day. ”
Previously the UN Security Council convened seven sessions on the situation in Ukraine, and at its eighth meeting, Russia, one of the 15-nation body’s permanent members, blocked action by voting against a draft resolution that would have urged countries not to recognize the results of the referendum in Crimea.
The non-binding text adopted by the General Assembly contained similar language proposed at the Security Council, underscoring that the referendum held in Crimea has no validity and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea or of the city of Sevastopol. It calls on all States to “desist and refrain” from actions aimed at the partial or total disruption of Ukraine’s national unity and territorial integrity, “including any attempts to modify Ukraine’s borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means.”
The Assembly resolution makes explicit reference to the primacy of the UN Charter’s call for the preservation of the unity and territorial integrity of all UN Member States, and also recalls the 1994 Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russian, and other bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Russia.
Presenting the non-binding text was Ukraine’s Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia, on a visit to the United States, who said that an integral part of his country had been forcibly annexed by Russia, which previously had committed itself to guaranteeing Ukraine independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. He said that while the resolution broke no new legal or normative ground, it 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.
Speaking strongly in favor of the resolution were UN ambassadors from Georgia, Turkey, the United States, Japan, Canada, Brazil, and several European and Latin American countries. Siding with Russia against the resolution were Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia. Most countries who abstained called for “diplomatic solutions.”