SA is trying to keep ‘political issues’ – and Russia’s name – out of a UN resolution on Ukraine

The funeral service for Oleh Yaschyshyn, Sergiy Melnyk, Rostyslav Romanchuk and Kyrylo Vyshyvany in Lviv on March 15, 2022. They died in a barrage of Russian missiles. (Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

  • A United Nations resolution this week will likely call out Russia for causing a humanitarian catastrophe in places such as the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
  • France and Mexico want the UN to demand the protection of civilians and the infrastructure they need to survive.
  • South Africa is said to have drafted a concurrent resolution, which does not mention Russia at all.
  • SA says politics should be kept out of the humanitarian response to the Russian invasion.
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South Africa is said to have taken the initiative to prevent “political questions” from a United Nations vote on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine – by not mentioning Russia as its cause.

The Associated Press this week obtained drafts of two competing UN resolutions, one from France and Mexico, the other drafted by South Africa.

Both resolutions would see the UN call for the protection of Ukrainian civilians, the infrastructure they need to survive. But while the Franco-Mexican version condemns the cause of these civilians’ suffering – Russia – the South African version never mentions Russia at all, the AP said.

South Africa appears to have circulated its draft resolution in response to the Franco-Mexican version, covering much the same ground, but deleting what it calls politics.

France and Mexico will ask the UN to specifically deplore Russia’s destruction of cities such as Mariupol, AP reports, where Russia has threatened to treat civilians as military actors, and pursue survivors after the war. South Africa, on the other hand, wants the UN to separate “humanitarian objectives” from the “political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may have with regard to the areas where humanitarian action is implemented “.

South Africa has told other UN members that the inclusion of the policy in the resolution “could result in member states not accepting any text” on Ukraine, and therefore should be divided.

See also | Ignore ‘politics’, says Russian company that wants to build nuclear in South Africa about Ukraine

The Franco-Mexican version should be put to the vote on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, South Africa abstained in a UN vote calling on Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine. South Africa had previously, on February 24, also called on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine, calling the call consistent with the UN Charter.

President Cyril Ramaphosa later said that the UN charter called on member states to first settle disputes through negotiation, so a UN resolution to demand that Russia end his invasion rather than encouraging negotiations was a mistake.

Ramaphosa continued South Africa’s approach of referring to a ‘conflict’ in Ukraine, never using the words ‘war’ or ‘invasion’ in relation to what Russia calls a ‘special military operation’. “.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) referred questions about the South African draft resolution to SA’s mission to the UN. The mission did not immediately respond to questions.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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