Global Leaders Highlight Russia’s Violation of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Russia's unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has worsened existing food security challenges worldwide and exacerbated the global food crisis.

The heads of state and government, in particular, Latvia, Switzerland, Estonia, Belgium, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, the USA, Bulgaria, the UK, Greece, Denmark, Israel, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Slovenia, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic as well as the Senior Representatives of the EU emphasised that threatening global food supplies should not be used as a weapon of war and recalled that the starvation of civilians as a tactic of warfare is prohibited, in a statement issued as the conclusion of the Grain from Ukraine Summit in Kyiv.

In the joint statement, global leaders highlight the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which emphasises the right of innocent passage for ships of all states, [including commercial vessels], which is crucial for global food stability.

However, Russia’s unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has worsened existing food security challenges worldwide and exacerbated the global food crisis. Russia is not only waging war on the battlefield but is also aiming to inflict a global food crisis by destroying Ukrainian civil port infrastructure and grain storage facilities, blocking the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, and disrupting lawful transit in Ukraine’s territorial seas.

On this occasion, Andriy Yermak, Chief of Staff of President Zelenskyy, stated, “The joint statement by the world leaders and their condemnation of Russia’s weaponisation of food and destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure and storages, and blockage the Black Sea coast of Ukraine show the world’s uniformity against Russia illegal invasion of Ukraine and convey a strong message that Russia is violating the UN conventions repeatedly. These violations of the UN conventions shall not remain unresponded. Russia must be held accountable.”

The Grain from Ukraine summit was convened on November 25, 2023, in Kyiv to mark the 1st anniversary of the Grain from Ukraine humanitarian initiative, and it coincided with the 90th anniversary of Holodomor. It was inaugurated by President Zelenskyy and attended by global leaders worldwide.

Background on Grain from Ukraine

The “Grain from Ukraine” (GfU) is an initiative launched by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 26 November 2022, the 90th anniversary of Holodomor, in partnership with the UN World Food Programme. Its goal is to ensure the safe transportation of grain and agricultural products through Ukrainian ports and tackle global famine.

The programme is supported by the International Coordination Group for the Prevention of Hunger (ICGPH). ICGPH functions under President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and is chaired by his Chief of Staff, Mr Andriy Yermak. It includes representatives from governments, corporations, and other patrons who can directly influence the provision of food needs of millions of people around the world.

Influential African leaders lent their support by serving as the ICGPH honorary ambassadors. They include Dr Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Vice President of the World Bank and former Minister of Education of Nigeria, who is currently a Senior Advisor at the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative, and Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa Programmes at the National Democratic Institute.

Recently, Mr Nevem Mimica, former Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia, Ms  Charlotte Leslie, former British MP, Dr Mohammad Abdullahi Omar, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Somaliland, and Mr Manav Sachdeva, former Senior UN Official and Honorary Ambassador to Ukraine, also joined the GfU initiative as goodwill ambassadors.

As part of the GfU initiative, 170K tons of Ukrainian grain have been delivered to several African countries, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Kenya. By the end of 2023, 25k tons of grain will be shipped to Nigeria.

More than 30 countries and international organisations, including EU countries, the US, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, and Qatar, have contributed to the programme, with over $200 million.

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