Where has the UN been since the beginning of the war in Ukraine?

Photo of PNUD Ukraine/Oleksandr Ratushnia

Criticised for its powerlessness since the start of the Ukrainian conflict, the UN seems outdated. Once the guarantor of international law, the United Nations today looks like a forerunner of international law without any real efficacy. But what has the United Nations done since the beginning of the conflict? Is that organization really sitting on its hands?

  • February 24, 2022

    Launch of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    UNHCR calls on neighboring countries to keep their borders open to Ukrainian people seeking safe haven

  • February 25, 2022

    Security Council: draft resolution deploring “aggression” against Ukraine rejected due to Russian veto.

  • February 26, 2022

    UN Secretary General promises Ukrainian President more UN humanitarian aid.

  • February 27, 2022

    Security Council votes to call for an emergency meeting of the General Assembly on Ukraine

  • February 28, 2022

    Emergency General Assembly meeting on Ukraine: UN chief calls for immediate halt to fighting.

  • March 1, 2022

    UN denounces arbitrary arrest of peaceful anti-war protesters in Russia.

  • March 2, 2022

    General Assembly adopts resolution demanding withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.

  • March 4, 2022

    The UN Human Rights Council decides to create a commission of inquiry.

  • March 5, 2022

    As urgent aid arrives, the UN calls for a humanitarian pause.

  • March 6, 2022

    UN chief calls for safe evacuation of conflict areas.

  • March 7, 2022

    UN calls for “windows of silence” and “safe passage” for civilians denied aid.

    Russia reduced Genocide Convention to confetti, Ukraine tells ICJ.

    Humanitarian chief calls on warring parties to spare civilians.

  • March 8, 2022

    UNESCO strengthens measures to protect endangered heritage.

  • March 11, 2022

    UN condemns indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian property.

    UN political affairs chief condemns destruction caused to cities by Russian forces.

  • March 13, 2022

    Three UN agencies call for end to attacks on health care in Ukraine.

  • March 14, 2022

    WHO sends emergency medical aid to preserve Ukraine’s health care system.

    In response to a worsening situation in Ukraine, the UN allocates an additional $40 million in humanitarian aid.

  • March 16, 2022

    ICJ orders Russia to “immediately suspend” military operations in Ukraine.

  • March 23, 2022

    The International Labor Organization suspends all cooperation with Russia as long as the conflict lasts.

  • March 24, 2022

    General Assembly adopts resolution demanding immediate cessation of hostilities by Russia against Ukraine.

  • March 28, 2022

    UN report documents “widespread” use of explosive weapons in Ukraine conflict UN humanitarian chief tasked by Guterres to explore possibility of ceasefire.

  • March 30, 2022

    Former President of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to lead UN investigation.

  • April 6, 2022

    UN confirms more than 1,563 civilian deaths in Ukraine.

    WHO to provide HIV antiretroviral drugs to Ukraine.

  • April 7, 2022

    General Assembly decides to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.

  • April 8, 2022

    UN calls for swift investigation of sexual violence allegations.

    UN condemns deadly attack on Kramatorsk train station.

  • April 11, 2022

    UN warns Security Council of catastrophic impact of war on women and children.

  • April 12, 2022

    UNHCR confirms 4.6 million Ukrainian refugees have fled.

  • April 18, 2022

    UN chief calls for immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

  • April 20, 2022

    5 million refugees passed, according to the UN. UN chief asks to meet with President Putin and President Zelensky.

  • April 21, 2022

    The UN reports large-scale devastation with a quarter of the population in need.

  • April 22, 2022

    Nearly One Million Displaced People to Benefit from IOM Shelter Rehabilitation Program.

  • April 24, 2022

    UN calls for immediate halt to fighting in Mariupol to allow trapped civilians to escape.

  • April 26, 2022

    UN doubles emergency humanitarian appeal to $2.25 billion. Russia agrees “in principle” to UN and Red Cross participation in Mariupol evacuations. U.N. General Assembly to meet whenever veto is used in Security Council.

  • April 28, 2022

    Describing Ukraine as “the epicenter of unbearable grief and pain,” the U.N. chief stood with the Ukrainian president in Kyiv on Thursday, pledging to increase support for the suffering population and the millions displaced by the Russian invasion.

Thus, the United Nations has, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, condamned, warned, called, postponed, decided and requested without real effect on the duration of the conflict. If the UN system does not seem to be an influential actor in the resolution of the conflict, this system remains indispensable on the humanitarian level. With several billion dollars financing humanitarian aid and 207 local partners, it seems to me legitimate to call the UN Refugee Agency a safeguard against a catastrophe worthy of the Second World War.

UNICEF/Tom Remp Families reach Berdyszcze, Poland, after crossing the border into Ukraine, fleeing the escalating conflict.

Furthermore, the United Nations does not have the role of coercing a country to keep the peace. According to Article 1, paragraph 1 of the San Francisco Charter, the purpose of the United Nations is to: “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to achieve by peaceful means, in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of disputes or situations, of an international character, which might lead to a breach of the peace;”

Therefore, to consider that the UN is ineffective is more a matter of ignorance than of relevant analysis, since one cannot force someone to listen. Thus, the UN is effective because of its persistence.

“It is not strength, but perseverance, that makes great works” (Samuel Johnson).

2 responses to “Where has the UN been since the beginning of the war in Ukraine?”

  1. Why Poutine has not be éjected of UN even We must eject RUSSIA


    1. Putin is not a member of the UN in his personal capacity but in his capacity as head of state. Since only countries can be members of the UN, it is not possible to eject Putin from the UN system. On the other hand, Russia is beginning to be progressively banished from this system, as shown by its exclusion from the Human Rights Council.


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