Pakistan abstains on UN vote calling for Russia to make reparations in Ukraine

UNITED NATIONS: The General Assembly of the United Nations on Monday called for Russia to be held accountable for its conduct in Ukraine, but Pakistan abstained from voting to approve a resolution recognising that Moscow must be responsible for making reparations to the eastern European country.

The resolution, supported by 94 of the assembly’s 193 members, said Russia, which invaded its neighbour in February, “must bear the legal consequences of all of its internationally wrongful acts, including making reparation for the injury, including any damage, caused by such acts.”

The resolution recommends that member states, in cooperation with Ukraine, create an international register to record evidence and claims against Russia.

General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, but they carry political weight.

14 countries voted against the resolution, including Russia, China and Iran; while 73 abstained, including Pakistan and India. Not all member states voted.

Explaining Pakistan’s position on the topic, Gul Qaiser Sarwani, first secretary at Pakistan’s permanent mission to the world body, said while Islamabad supported the establishment of a claims commission, any such mechanism must be based on sound legal foundations.

But, he said, the resolution failed to address key legal requirements in a comprehensive manner.

Qaiser also said it would be “unprecedented” to establish the proposed mechanism that is neither managed by nor accountable to any of the UN’s principal organs, including the General Assembly.

Noting that many of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution had consistently opposed any discussion on such an international mechanism for seeking reparations for slavery and colonialism, he said that double standards in the application of international law were counterproductive.

“Universal and consistent adherence to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter is imperative, not only to ensure the credibility and legitimacy of the UN system, but also to strengthen accountability and justice for serious violations of international law,” Qaiser said.

Irrespective of the origin of the conflict, the diplomat added, the highest priority at this moment is the immediate cessation of hostilities and the resumption of a dialogue — through direct negotiations, mediation or other peaceful means — to resolve the conflict and restore peace and security in Ukraine.

Kyiv’s Ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, told the General Assembly before the vote that Russia has targeted everything from factories to residential buildings and hospitals.

“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,” Kyslytsya said.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the General Assembly before the vote that the provisions of the resolution are “legally null and void” as he urged countries to vote against it.

“The West is trying to draw out and worsen the conflict and plans to use Russian money for it,” Nebenzia said.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on the Telegram messaging app that the “Anglo-Saxons are clearly trying to scrape together a legal basis for the illegal seizure of Russian assets.”

— With input from Reuters

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