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Statement at the General Assembly on the use of veto on Gaza

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations Ambassador Boštjan Malovrh at the UN General Assembly on the US veto on a Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza on 22 December 2023

Mr. President,

Humanitarian organizations, UN entities, medical personnel, journalists, people on the ground, and many countries in this room, including Slovenia are calling for one thing: a ceasefire. 22,000 civilians have been killed and over 57,000 wounded so far, mostly women and children. Only a cessation of hostilities can prevent the continuation of the current alarming scale of killing, suffering and destruction.

Slovenia has been clear and will continue condemning the terrorist attack by Hamas on 7 October. We are also deeply concerned by the information about sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas. Once again we call upon Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all hostages.

However, what we are witnessing in Gaza today, are grave violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Despite appeals by the General Assembly and the Security Council, endeavors of many countries and humanitarian organizations, the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza remains critically insufficient. This is also clearly highlighted in the UN Secretary General’s report on 5 January.

There is higher percentage of people facing hunger in Gaza than anywhere else in the world. Apart from food, the people in Gaza are in dire needs of medical supplies, fuel, and shelter equipment. More than 400,000 cases of infectious diseases have been reported since 7 October. It is imperative to re-establish essential services, such as healthcare, safe water supply, and provide shelter for 1.9 million displaced persons – almost as much as the entire population of Slovenia.

Mr. President,

We welcome the adoption of two UN Security Council resolutions on specific aspects of the crisis. However, the steps taken so far have not been enough. We therefore regret the use of veto. Given the numerous reports of the devastating situation on the ground, we should not be merely “taking steps to create the conditions for” a sustainable cessation of hostilities. People are dying, starving and are without water, without appropriate shelter, without access to basic healthcare and security. This is the dire humanitarian situation which needs our decisive action.

We therefore urge on all parties to intensify efforts towards ensuring a safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, and to uphold the principles of international law, prioritizing the protection of civilians.

Mr. President,

The General Assembly has been clear: 153 states called for a ceasefire. In June last year, the same number of countries voted to elect Slovenia to serve as an elected member of the UN Security Council. We took on this new role with a great sense of responsibility and with a clear priority of protecting the most vulnerable. As already emphasized in the beginning, we can achieve that only by fully respecting international law, especially international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Nothing less should be acceptable.

It is imperative that we take immediate action to alleviate the ongoing suffering and destruction occurring in Gaza. By doing so, we can begin to rebuild trust within the Organization and demonstrate our commitment to uphold the international law and protect the most vulnerable populations. It is only through responsible and decisive action that we can bring about a sustainable and lasting solution to the human catastrophe in Gaza and embark on a meaningful political process that will lead to two state solution.

Thank you.

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