Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

221114 - UN General Assembly 11th Emergency Special Session on Ukraine


14 November 2022

Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Thank you Mr President, good morning colleagues.

Let us remember that, on the 2nd of March, under the Uniting for Peace formula, the international community stood together and adopted resolution ES-11/1 by an overwhelming majority.

In doing so, we were united in deploring, in the strongest terms, the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter.

It is now more than eight months on. And every day Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unleashes further suffering, causing  death, injury and destruction in Ukraine.

When this illegal and immoral war ends, Ukraine will face the monumental task of rebuilding all that was destroyed by Russia in the context of, or during its invasion.

The injuries suffered by Ukraine as a result of Russia's violations of international law require full reparation by Russia, in accordance with the international law of State responsibility.

Article 31 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts makes abundantly clear that – and I quote – “the responsible State is under an obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by the internationally wrongful act” – end quote. 

This fundamental principle of international law is not controversial; far from it.

In fact, in a decision in February of this year, the International Court of Justice once again explicitly reaffirmed that Article 31 and this principle represents customary international law.[1]

So let us be clear.

The international community has overwhelmingly spoken to condemn Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the UN Charter.

There is no doubt that Russia has an obligation under international law to make full reparation for the injury caused by this egregious and legally wrongful act.

The resolution we are debating today – which Australia is proud to co-sponsor – recognises these basic facts and that Russia must be held to account for its illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine.

We will not be fooled by Russia's misinformation and obfuscation. 

This resolution does not overstep the powers of the General Assembly, in any way. It simply recognises fundamental principles of international law by which Russia, and we must all, abide.

A register of damage and a reparations mechanism, appropriately constructed, would be important components of a fair, impartial and just framework for reaching a view of the reparations Russia must make to ensure lasting peace.

Colleagues, the international community must work together to start laying the foundations now.

We must first accurately record the damage caused by Russia, with a view to achieving peace and post-conflict recovery.

We must urge all Member States to continue to support this resolution and every effort to ensure Russia complies with its obligations under international law, including:

  • to end its war of aggression against Ukraine;
  • and to make reparations for the injury and damage it has already caused.

Thank you colleagues.

[1] Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda) (Reparations) (International Court of Justice, General List No 116, 9 February 2022) 28 [70].