Dear Dr. Durbak, Dear Colleagues! Ladies and gentlemen! At the outset I would like to present my words of gratitude to honorary Dr. Durbak for her continued leadership in convening this annual Conference on Food Security.
Some of you who are participating in our event for the first time may ask why Ukraine has repeatedly taken a flagship role in discussing this crucial issue in its particular dimension – preventing the use of food as a weapon.
This initiative comes out from the tragic experience of my people, who were the object of a man-made starvation used for political purposes, almost 80 years ago.
In 1932-1933 the USSR communist regime started a terror by famine aimed at physically exterminating its political opposition, represented by the Ukrainian peasantry, in order to have a loyal environment on the western borders of the USSR. This famine led to millions of deaths of men, women and children and now is called the HOLODOMOR (which means “killing by starvation”).
Turning back the tragic pages of Ukrainian history, we are pursuing the following goals:
Firstly, to expose the truth to our compatriots about the reason of the extermination of Ukrainians by famine, in order to never allow dictatorship regimes to appear in the future on our land;
Secondly (and the most importantly) we discuss the HOLODOMOR in the framework of the United Nations in order to uncover the methods and purposes of this crime in Ukraine from the international law viewpoint and, thus, to prevent the further use of food as a weapon in other parts of the contemporary world.
The Conference participants today will be speaking about the crime of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, as well as on similar artificially created famines in other States. Unfortunately, we have to admit that some notorious contemporary political regimes are still using the same horrific methods in their countries, taking thousands and thousands of human lives.
In my country, where the soil is blessed to be fertile as nowhere else and in the times when the harvest was traditionally rich – millions of deaths were caused by:
1) The imposition of excessive grain procurement quotas;
2) The confiscation of everything considered as a food;
3) The prohibition of the trade in foodstuffs;
4) The deployment of internal and border troops to keep the starving people from traveling to other regions of the USSR in search of food.
Today’s international law clearly qualifies the HOLODOMOR as a crime. It is widely described in article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Court of Justice entitled “Crimes against humanity,” and I quote:
“Extermination” includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population.”
Ukraine lost millions.
The Ukrainian law on the Holodomor states that this crime has all indications of genocide, which, according to article 2 of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, means, inter alia, I quote, “Deliberately inflicted on the group of people conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is extremely important to take into consideration the tragic experience of Ukraine – while talking about the role of NGOs and free media in preventing food insecurity. Although we are going to address this subject closely in the course of our further discussion, let me make some brief introductive remarks in this regard – from the point of view of the Ukrainian experience.
“It is only due to the efforts of inspired enthusiastic researches and work of different NGOs and free media, basically guided by Ukrainian Diaspora, the world started to uncover the truth.”
Since 1932 and until the USSR collapse in 1991 the Soviet authorities were making everything possible to hide the truth about the Holodomor.
This truth, sad and terrifying, was the unifying reason for those peoples of the world who shared our pain and national sorrow, and condemned this crime of the communist regime against Ukrainians, having created an “Alliance of Solidarity.”
In this regard we are grateful to all United Nations Member States who co-sponsored the UN Declaration on Holodomor, which is still open for signature.
To secure our future we should never forget our past. I thank all of you for your attention and encourage having a vibrant and fruitful discussion.
I thank you.