Ukraine, UNSC 2016 – 2017 (Interpreting Support)

October 16, 2015

Today saw the (unopposed) election of Ukraine to the United Nations Security Council  (UNSC) for a two year period 2016 and 2017.

A total of 177 nations voted for Ukraine to assume that position, with 14 abstentions and a single spoiled ballot.

Overwhelming support – far beyond the 118 votes in favour that were required.


Naturally media attention will be drawn to a prickly diplomatic engagement between Ukraine and Russia during this time.

From a Ukrainian point of view, it will serve to keep the issues in the Donbas and the illegal annexation of Crimea upon the international agenda – ably assisted by the anticipated Dutch Prosecutor’s MH17 report due in February 2016.

However, the Ukrainian authorities would be wise to consider this as support for international law and therefore support for the integrity of the nation’s internationally recognised borders – and no more.

It should on no account be interpreted by the Ukrainian authorities as unconditional support for anything more than that.

There seems to be an increasingly complacent attitude, perhaps even of entitlement, being projected by the Ukrainian authorities and amongst a large number of parliamentarians, relating to international support far beyond that rightfully given for its territorial integrity.  There is almost an arrogant expectancy of external political, economic and diplomatic support regardless of the lack of not only much needed and domestically demanded reform, but also ratified obligations within the EU Association Agreement to do so.

If domestic opinions polls and extremely active civil society input are failing to spur the necessary momentum within the leadership and legislature, most would think that some extremely blunt and continuous diplomatic messages being consistently delivered would have some impact – particularly so when it has been made exceptionally clear that funding is entirely much of the desired funding is subject to strict conditionality to reform.  This notwithstanding the nation’s ratified international obligations to do so.

As has been written here before, the next “Maidan” is not likely to be one that manifests as the previously.  Huge crowds in the streets are improbable.  The next Maidan is likely to occur within the Verkhovna Rada itself in a clear and prolonged standoff between the reformers and the obstructionists.

Despite mathematically the parliament being unlikely to drop below a 250 MP majority that could and should be able to progress the reform agenda on anything that does not require a constitution changing 300+ votes, there are serious questions to be asked about the political will amongst some within that 250 MP number.  As was written here almost immediately after the October 2014 oath taking of the current parliamentarians, and many times since, an early election for the Verkhovna Rada is a very real prospect.  If so then let it be hoped that new laws upon party funding are passed prior to that event to at least mitigate some of the cancerous oligarchical influence.

Should Batkivshchyna do well, or even reasonable well, in the local elections 10 days hence, Ms Tymoshenko will be very tempted to leave the coalition – although as stated above this would not derail the majority still being able to pass simple majority legislation.

However, there may also be something of an “external Maidan” gathering momentum amongst the nations, institutions and suprastructures that the current leadership and legislature are seemingly listening to, without actually hearing them.  It seems only a matter of time before the external loan guarantees, loans and grants are reduced to little more than life support, with any additional significant development funding, not to mention political and diplomatic energy, being all but frozen.  The growing frustration amongst the diplomats your author mingles with is clear when it comes to the speed and quality of reform.

It is to be hoped that the convincing UN vote that placed Ukraine upon the UNSC for the next two years is not interpreted by the Ukrainian leadership and parliamentarians as unconditional and open ended support for anything more than Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the rule of international law – for that is all it is.  Any other expectations of constant support would be entirely misplaced – all other support comes with both strict conditionality and limited patience.

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