General Explanation of Position in Second Committee on the Russian Federation’s War Against Ukraine

Nicholas Hill
U.S. Deputy Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
November 23, 2022


I have the honor of delivering this Explanation of Position on behalf of Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, the European Union and its Member States, Georgia, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, the Republic of Korea, San Marino, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and my own country, the United States of America.

We share the following statement in the spirit of our collective commitment to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Second Committee’s work is crucially important for the acceleration of action in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We engaged fully, constructively and in good faith to address the most pressing global challenges, with the aim of sending a strong message of commitment to multilateralism, international solidarity, and to share a sense of urgency and action in support of the SDGs. This work is especially important at a time when multiple and interlinked challenges have reversed hard-fought development gains — gains that disproportionally affect developing countries.

Unfortunately, our ability to address these immense challenges has been further undermined by the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a blatant violation of the UN Charter and one of the main drivers behind a deteriorating global outlook, for which some of the world’s most vulnerable countries and people are paying the highest price.

On March 2, 141 Member States voted in support of a General Assembly resolution entitled, “Aggression against Ukraine.” Member States expressed their “concern also about the potential impact of the conflict on increased food insecurity globally, as Ukraine and the region are one of the world’s most important areas for grain and agricultural exports, when millions of people are facing famine or the immediate risk of famine or are experiencing severe food insecurity in several regions of the world, as well as on energy security.”

We deliver this statement together to highlight the need for this Committee and the international community to identify clearly all root causes of backsliding on the SDGs if we are to advance them effectively. We condemn the circumstance that one Member State is responsible for further global deterioration in a world already grappling with life-changing global challenges, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Russia’s continued war on Ukraine is of immediate relevance and consequence to matters before this Committee — namely food, nutrition, and energy security. Resolutions do not specifically name the Russian Federation to hold it to account, but instead some reference broad statements such as “geopolitical tensions and conflicts.” We take the opportunity now to highlight Russia’s negative impact on global development, particularly food and nutrition and energy security.

As Secretary-General Guterres said to the G20 on November 15, “Many governments in the Global South, battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the inequality in resources available for the recovery, and the climate crisis, have no fiscal space to help their people deal with rising food and fertilizer prices accelerated by the war.” In 2021, approximately 2.34 billion people, or nearly 30 percent of the global population, were moderately or severely food insecure, an increase of more than 350 million since 2019. According to the World Food Programme, up to 345 million people are acutely food insecure in the 82 countries where the WFP operates — two and a half times the number of acutely food insecure people before the pandemic began. Russia’s actions, which include weaponizing food in its war against Ukraine and dramatically reducing grain and food production and exports, have exacerbated these trends and resulted in a dramatic rise in global food insecurity.

Overall, we are united in our commitment and resolve to address food insecurity. We are working to meet humanitarian needs, keep food and fertilizers moving, provide emergency funding, improve resilience, and accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems to withstand future challenges. We are taking action alongside partners to mobilize the international community, including through the UN-led Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) on Food, Energy and Finance; the G7 Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS); the Roadmap – Call to Action, the EU-led Solidarity Lanes; as well as the World Bank Group’s and IMF’s food security responses.

Energy is a key element in the progress towards poverty eradication and achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Yet Russia’s deliberate attacks on civilian and energy infrastructure have undermined access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. Natural gas wholesale prices on the European benchmark have risen to more than 10 times the average from the first half of 2021 and, compared to one year ago, global coal prices have increased 100 percent and global oil prices by more than 30 percent. It is clear that Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is a key driver of skyrocketing global energy prices.

Russia’s persistence in waging this war will lead to further backsliding away from achievement of the SDGs. We once again demand Russia cease hostilities, withdraw its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. This action is essential to ending the multiple and interconnected crises, starting with food, pandemic recovery, energy and finance, and will enable us to refocus our global action to get back on track to achieving the SDGs and supporting the most vulnerable countries. As we approach the halfway mark to achieving the SDGs, we must all make sure we deliver on our commitment to Agenda 2030.

Thank you.