South Africa


Pretoria’s resolution on providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine is defeated in UN General Assembly

Pretoria’s resolution on providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine is defeated in UN General Assembly
From right: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden arrive at Nato Headquarters in Brussels on 24 March 2022. (Photo: John Thys / AFP)

South Africa’s text excluded any reference to Russia, to try to win Moscow’s approval for the resolution and ensure that humanitarian aid could be delivered to Ukraine.

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. 

un resolution russia ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (second left), US President Joe Biden (left), European Council President Charles Michel (second right) and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (right) at the start of the European Council Summit in Brussels, Belgium on 24 March 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Olivier Hoslet)

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. 

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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


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  • virginia crawford says:

    All other issues aside: humanitarian aid is denied to Ukraine because of political considerations. The western hand wringing and crocodile tears are all about politics. Yemeni civilians are being bombed by western supplied weapons. NATO cares about NATO, not the Ukrainians! They are a means to an end. Let’s remember the evil Saddam Hussein: did NATO druven regime change make Iraq better or worse? And civilians were just collateral damage.

    • Tim Price says:

      You are misrepresenting the situation and it sounds as if your didn’t even read the article. A resolution proposed by Ukraine for humanitarian aid and was passed before SA tried its luck with a resolution that did not condemn or blame Russia for the humanitarian crisis.

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    I wonder if the anc will wake up to reality if “The West” (NATO) decided to implement sanctions against all countries supporting/not condemning Russia in this war.

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Irrelevant South Africa

  • Craig B says:

    The South African government does nothing about the humanitarian crisis of South Africa so I don’t see how what they say at the UN is from any position of knowing what to do. At best it’s embarrassing at worst it could affect trade and investment which is what we need for the SA humanitarian crisis

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