Home » Global Food Insecurity Caused by Russia-Ukraine War Tops Agenda as U.S. Assumes UN Security Council Presidency
Defence Europe National Security Russia Ukraine United States

Global Food Insecurity Caused by Russia-Ukraine War Tops Agenda as U.S. Assumes UN Security Council Presidency

WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday took the helm of the United Nations Security Council for the month of August, a scheduled presidency that comes as the international body grapples with the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The diplomatic choreography of assuming the Security Council presidency — largely seen as procedural — gives the U.S. the opportunity to set the agenda for debates over the next month.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters during a briefing that the U.S. will focus on the defense of human rights and ways to mitigate food insecurity.

“We know food security is national security,” she said, adding that “Russia has launched a full-scale assault on the world’s bread basket and it is dead set on depriving the world of Ukraine’s grains.”

She reiterated U.S. calls for Russia to return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the landmark U.N.-brokered agricultural deal between Ukraine and Russia that fell apart last month after nearly a year in place.

Under the deal, more than 1,000 ships carrying nearly 33 million metric tons of agricultural products departed from Ukraine’s war-weary Black Sea ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi, previously known as Yuzhny.

The agreement also facilitated the transport of 725,167 tons of wheat on World Food Program ships to some of the most food-insecure countries on earth, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

In recent months, however, Russia had grown increasingly critical of the deal, claiming it is weighted to favor Kyiv over Moscow.

Russia warned that if the Black Sea Grain Initiative did not incorporate fertilizer products into the exports, Moscow would not renew the agreement. Unlike food, fertilizer has yet to depart for global destinations.

“That’s not the deal we agreed to on July 22,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during an April 26 briefing.

Following Moscow’s departure from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russian forces rained missiles on Ukrainian ports and agricultural facilities, sending wheat prices on a three-day spike.

Thomas-Greenfield also announced a high-level debate on Thursday that will be chaired by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The United Nations Security Council at U.N. Headquarters in New York City September 30, 2022.
The United Nations Security Council at U.N. Headquarters in New York City September 30, 2022.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Security Council is made up of 15 members and tasked with the U.N.’s mission of “maintenance of international peace and security.”

The presidency rotates each month among the members but only the five permanent members hold veto authority on any measure proposed before the international forum.

The U.S. alongside the U.K., China, Russia and France are the five permanent seat holders on the Security Council. The 10 non-permanent members are elected to two-year terms by the U.N. General Assembly.

In April, Russia assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council, a move that came on the heels of the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes committed during his invasion of Ukraine. The warrant is the first time the ICC, a body of the United Nations, has taken such a measure against a leader whose country is a permanent member of the Security Council. 

In April, Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya used the forum to advance pro-Kremlin narratives during his presidency.

The last time Nebenzya, presided over the body tasked with the “maintenance of international peace and security” was in February 2022, the same month Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine

Last year, Thomas-Greenfield led efforts to remove Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council. She said at the time that Russia’s membership hurts the credibility of the council, “undermines the entire U.N. and it is just plain wrong.”

Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya listens as Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya speaks during a meeting of the General Assembly for a special session in the General Assembly Hall at United Nations Headquarters on November 14, 2022 in New York City. The UNGA continued its Eleventh Emergency Special Session to hold a vote on a draft resolution brought by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to t
Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya.Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

The vote coalesced with reports of Russian forces torturing Ukrainian civilians before burying them in mass graves in Bucha, a suburb near Kyiv.

The bodies were discovered after Moscow withdrew its troops following a stunning Ukrainian offensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the aftermath, which he saw firsthand, as a “genocide” and accused Russia of war crimes.

The Kremlin has previously described its military actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” and has denied targeting civilians.

The resolution to strip Russia of its seat on the Human Rights Council passed with 93 votes in favor, 24 against and 58 abstentions. Belarus, China, Iran, Russia and Syria were among the U.N. members that voted against the resolution. India abstained from voting.

Source : CNBC