Thank you Mr President – Foreign Minister. And I thank the Ministers from Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia and Ukraine for marking this occasion with their presence.
The United Kingdom is deeply saddened, frustrated and disappointed that Russia has vetoed this resolution today. This resolution was about securing justice for the 298 people, including 80 children and 10 British nationals, who lost their lives onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Russia’s veto disrespects the victims and insults their families.
Through resolution 2166, the Security Council unanimously agreed that those responsible for this incident be held to account and demanded that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability. With its veto, Russia is not meeting that demand.
The Security Council had the opportunity today to start a process that would have brought justice and accountability for the families of all those who lost their lives. There are clear precedents for the Council taking this kind of action; securing international support for the Lockerbie trial and establishing the ICTY and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, to name but a few.
A year on from the downing of MH17, this was precisely the moment to establish a tribunal, to send a clear and unambiguous message that this Council will not tolerate impunity; that this Council has a clear responsibility to address violent acts which constitute a threat to international peace and security.
So we reject the Russian allegation that this resolution was an unnecessary and premature move and that the Security Council should have waited for the investigations to conclude. An operational and fully staffed tribunal takes time to set up. Had we started that process today, the tribunal would have been ideally placed to act on the outcome of the investigations.
Despite Russia’s veto, the investigations will continue. The investigators have been exemplary in their professionalism and integrity, working in the most challenging circumstances. We reject any allegations to the contrary.
Russia has been involved in both investigations. The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has actively participated in the technical investigation. And it has contributed material to the criminal investigation. It is damaging that Russia has chosen to block the best route to establishing a tribunal for that criminal investigation to reach a conclusion.
It is through these investigations that we will bring those responsible to account, as resolution 2166 demands. The veto today will not prevent that; the perpetrators of this terrible crime should find no comfort in Russia’s actions today. There must be accountability and the international community now needs to unite to make that happen.
Let me conclude Mr President, by returning to the victims. To them, MH17 was meant to be a routine flight to Kuala Lumpur. A business trip, a holiday, a stop-over before a conference. Instead, all 298 people onboard lost their lives in a remote part of eastern Ukraine, far from home, far from those they loved and far from those who loved them. They, and those that they left behind, deserve justice. Despite Russia’s actions today, we will not give up in our pursuit of that goal.