Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this meeting.
Given the meeting is taking place on the margins of the UN General Assembly, I will mention one of the fundamental documents of the modern international legal system.
This is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 30 articles about the most urgent things for every person out of the billions of people who have lived, live and will live on our planet. I will now quote Article 25:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
This is a very important definition – the definition of the right, not the privilege, the right, not the fortune, the right, not the vagaries of climate. The right to food. The right to protection against hunger. The right!
Ukraine considers this right inalienable for all people, for all countries. Every person in the world should be free from hunger and even the threat of it. Every country in the world should be reliably protected from famine.
And any state that provokes famine, that tries to make access to food a privilege, that tries to make the protection of nations from famine dependent on the smile of fortune or the mercy of some dictator – such a state must get the toughest reaction from the world. Reaction as for the use of weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological or nuclear. Because the spread of famine is the same immoral and inhumane weapon of mass destruction as the spread of deadly bacteria or radiation.
This is Ukraine’s position. This is the position of a nation that has lost millions of people to Holodomors. Therefore, we particularly feel what the words “food security” really mean. What the right to protection against hunger is. What the right to food is.
We feel why this is not a privilege, why it should not be an accident and why anyone who destroys this right should face a tough response.
That is why we are making so much effort to restore our agricultural exports. This is not only an economic issue for us. This is a question of basic values and respect for life as such.
In 8 months of last year, Ukraine exported almost 38 million tons of agricultural products. In 8 months of this year, the world market has received almost 10 million tons less already.
Minus 10 million tons of our agricultural exports is plus tens of millions of people who found themselves on the brink of starvation or are starving. And these are only the initial consequences of the Russian blockade of our ports, Russian attempts with missile strikes to prevent us from building new export logistics, and the immoral political game with fluctuations in food prices.
Russia must bear responsibility for this.
Why did it need all this? To supposedly graciously give food in exchange for sovereignty. In exchange for political submission. In exchange for vulnerability. Vulnerability of many African, Asian and European countries.
That is why Russia wants to make protection from hunger not a right, but a privilege, and wants to make food – not an inalienable right, but something to beg for.
We categorically do not accept that. We consistently fight against that. Even in the conditions of a full-scale war, we help those who cannot provide agricultural products for themselves with our agricultural products. And I want to assure the UN that Ukraine will continue to be a guarantor of the UN World Food Programme.
In particular, we are already helping Somalia and Ethiopia. Africa, Asia, Europe, the American continent… Wherever food is needed, we are ready to export and help.
And we call for your solidarity.
Stand in solidarity with us in holding Russia to account. Stand in solidarity with us in guaranteeing the right of any person and any country to protection from hunger, the right to food.
This is a right, not a privilege. It should be so. I believe that we will be able to guarantee it.
I am grateful to UN Secretary-General Guterres. I am grateful to Türkiye and President Erdoğan. Our grain export initiative is working steadily. And I am grateful to all Ukrainians – each and every one who turns our ability to guarantee global food security into an objective reality.
I thank all of you for your support and attention!
Glory to Ukraine!