United States secretary of state Antony Blinken (L) is greeted by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after a U.N. Security Council Meeting on the Ukrainian, Russian conflict at U.N. headquarters in New York City on February 24, 2023. Photo by Peter Foley/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 23 (UPI) -- United Nation member states Thursday voted overwhelmingly to adopt a draft resolution that calls for a cease-fire in Ukraine.
The General Assembly resumed its emergency session in New York on Thursday to hear the final testimonials on the draft resolution and take a vote. With 141 votes in favor, the resolution passed.
Seven member states voted against the resolution and 32 abstained.
Delegates to the General Assembly erupted into applause after the reading of the vote tally.
The resolution, titled "Principles of the Charter of the United Nations underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine," affirms the need to quickly establish peace in Ukraine, Russian troop withdrawal from the country, and accountability for alleged war crimes committed in the conflict.
South Sudan has repeatedly abstained from voting on matters relating to the war in Ukraine, but on Thursday that changed. Ambassador Akuei Bona Malwal added his vote in favor of the resolution.
"We joined to vote in favor of the draft with the singular reason that this conflict has to stop," he said. "Its devastation has been experienced far and wide. Therefore, through our vote we strongly call for a peaceful and speedy settlement through a negotiated mechanism agreed upon by the parties to the conflict."
On Wednesday, many of the members spoke wholly in favor of the resolution as it was. On Thursday, however, there were notably more critics, including delegates from China, Angola and Cuba who said some of the language in the resolution would not further peace talks.
Ambassador Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta of Cuba explained why he abstained from voting after the results were read.
"We reject any attempts in the future to manipulate this text as a legal basis to justify the possible creation of tribunals aimed at carrying out judgements at national or international levels," he said.
Two amendments, both voted down, had been submitted to soften the language in the proposed document, eliminating phrases such as "aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, including the continuous attacks against critical infrastructure across Ukraine."
U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward condemned the amendment brought forward by Belarus, which she said were meant to undermine the U.N. Charter and "defend the aggressor."
"The amendments attempt to create a false equivalence in Russia, which this general assembly and the secretary-general have made clear is engaged in a full scale invasion -- and Ukraine, which is exercising its right of self defense against that aggression," she said.
"They have been put forward by a state that has facilitated Russia's invasion, that provided the staging ground for the early attempt to topple Kyiv. That is among a small number of states that have consistently voted against upholding Ukraine's rights under the U.N. Charter," she said.
After members who wished to comment on the vote were finished, the session shifted to the right of reply portion in which members could respond to comments made by fellow delegates during the session.
While much of the conversation remained on the topic of Ukraine, it strayed further south when Kim Song of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea took the floor.
The North Korean ambassador did not mince words addressing allegations from Hwang Joon-kook of the Republic of Korea. Allegations that North Korea is violating its duties as a member of the U.N.
Kim rejected assertions that North Korea has dealt arms to Russia and called South Korea's allegations provocative and "intolerable." He also accused the U.N. Security Council of becoming a tool for the United States, South Korea and other nations.
He criticized South Korea's joint military exercises with the United States and issued a stern warning to his neighboring country.
"Continued submission to the United States will lead to self destruction," the North Korean ambassador said.