This resolution should not have been controversial. It was grounded in principles that provide the foundation for international stability in law. Article 2 of the UN Charter — the prohibition on the use of force to acquire territory, and respect for sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Member States — these are the principles that Russia agrees with and defends vigorously all around the world, except, it seems, in circumstances that involve Russia.
The international community has stated multiple times in the last several months in various fora that de-escalation and a diplomatic solution is the preferred way forward in Ukraine. We cannot turn away from the problems in Crimea, which is and remains part of Ukraine, and UNESCO must contribute to the diplomatic dialogue by highlighting concerns directly related to its mandate. So we reject the idea that we don’t have this mandate and that this resolution in any way exceeds what we can and should be doing.
UNESCO has a critical interest in insuring its Member States advance the organization’s goals, which include respect for media freedom, minority protection, support of equal access to education for all, and protect and preserve world heritage. We are very pleased that UNESCO today has come forward and made a strong stand supporting all of these critical values in Ukraine.