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Ukraine may turn to UN General Assembly

March 7, 2014

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Ukraine may appeal to the U.N. General Assembly if the divided Security Council doesn’t act on Russia’s seizure of Crimea, the Ukrainian ambassador said Friday.

Russia holds veto power on the Security Council, and can be counted on to block the U.N.’s most powerful body from any action or criticism of its actions in Crimea.

General Assembly votes are non-binding but can be influential, especially when a big majority of nations show they’re united.

Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press that Ukraine’s government is waiting to see how the Security Council performs “in the next few days.”

Sergeyev said the General Assembly could use a “Uniting for Peace” provision which allows the body to hold an emergency session on issues of peace and security if the council is deadlocked.

The assembly occasionally holds votes on issues of great global significance when the council fails to act. But the last time the body passed a Uniting for Peace resolution was in 1981, declaring South Africa’s occupation of Namibia to be illegal and urging U.N. members to support a guerrilla resistance group. South Africa’s occupation did not end until 1990.

More recently, as action on Syria’s civil war has ground on, action in the council has been repeatedly blocked by Russia and China, which support Syrian President Bashar Assad.

That didn’t stop the General Assembly from adopting a resolution last May calling for a political transition in Syria. It was approved by a vote of 107-12, but 59 countries abstained.

Far more nations voted on Nov. 29, 2012, when a motion to recognize Palestine as a non-member U.N. observer state easily gained a necessary two-thirds majority, a symbolic step toward full membership in the world body.

The General Assembly’s first emergency special session was in 1956 when the United States wanted to resolve Egypt’s Suez Crisis, in which Britain, France and Israel seized the Suez Canal. The Security Council was deadlocked by British and French vetoes.

The assembly voted to set up the U.N. Emergency Force of peacekeepers to monitor a cease-fire.

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