Updated: Feb 26
How Ukraine's plight resonates with Palau
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Joining the world chorus against Russia’s foray into Ukraine, Marshall Islands’ and Palau's ambassadors to the United Nations urged the international organization to intervene and deescalate the crisis.
“As an institution, the United Nations risks irrelevance if we cannot take clear and meaningful action on this issue,” said Ambassador Amatlain Elizabeth Kabua, Marshall Islands’ permanent representative to the UN.
Kabua said Ukraine is being forcibly dismantled piece by piece through Crimea, Donbas and Luhansk.
“This has got to stop. If we do not speak up collectively, then who will?” Kabua said.
She advised the UN against fence-sitting. “Speaking out against forceful threats is inconvenient, but it is very much necessary at this very dangerous time," Kabua said. "In the long term, what will silence win any of us?”
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Ambassador Ilana Seid, Palau’s permanent representative to the UN, condemned Russia’s actions as a violation of the principles of the UN charter, international law and the Minsk agreements, a series of international agreements which sought to end the war in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
“The UN charter and the international law treaties that followed have been sacred to Palau, because firstly, we became a sovereign nation through the procedures of the UN trusteeship council in 1994,” Seid said,
Palau and Ukraine are both young and war-torn nations that acquired their independence in the 1990s.
The Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine, which was adopted in July 1990, established the principles of the self-determination, democracy and independence. On Aug. 24, 1991. the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence.
Palau, a former trust territory of the U.S., became an independent nation in 1994.
“Indeed, many of us here are former colonies and should bristle at the thought that our hard-won independence, the sweet taste of our self-determination and individual rights might be jeopardized at the whim of any one nation," Seid said.
She recalled Palau's firsthand experience with the horrors of World War II, specifically the bloodiest battle of the Pacific theater that was fought in Peleliu.
“So lest we forget the carnage of war - when the borders of Europe are redrawn by force, this will mean bloodshed and lost lives, voiceless and vulnerable people who go hungry, tens of thousands of displaced people and refugees, and children, innocent children, who were robbed of an education and a childhood, who instead grow up in a pervasive state of fear and helplessness," Seid said.
Kabua, for her part, said the Marshall Islands condemns Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and disruption of fragile efforts at diplomacy.
She said the Russian military forces at Ukraine’s borders are not peacekeepers in any sense of the word.
“No other nation recognizes these Ukraine areas as some other sovereign. That is a complete farce used to justify an invasion,” Kabua said.
Seid said Palau supports Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"Palau also asks that all of us - Russia included - hold firm in our commitment to honor the UN charter, and encourage a stable peace through de-escalation, dialogue, and the rule of law,” she added.
Seid noted that the creation of the UN at the end of WWII was an expression of hope for the possibilities of a new global security arrangement.