Remarks for Adoption of a UN General Assembly Resolution on the Status of IDPs and Refugees in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 7, 2023


Mr. President, Colleagues, the United States is pleased to co-sponsor and support this important resolution. We urge members of the General Assembly to also support the resolution before us today.

We remain greatly concerned over the plight of internally displaced persons and refugees displaced from the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and all others whose lives have been upended by Russia’s unlawful invasions of its sovereign neighbors.

Fifteen years ago, Russia’s aggression upended the lives and livelihoods of millions of Georgia’s civilians. Many of these individuals remain unable to return to their pre-conflict lives and homes. Many remain unable to enjoy peace and security.

The United States fully supports Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Russia’s military presence in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are the result of its unlawful invasion. Russia continues to violate the territorial integrity of Georgia and undermines Georgia’s sovereignty, threatening not only Georgia but also the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

We call on Russia to cease its recognition of the so-called independence of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are integral parts of Georgia’s territory. We also call on Russia to fulfill its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions, and to allow and facilitate unhindered access for humanitarian organizations.

Russia and the de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia need to take immediate steps to respect human rights in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, cease construction of barriers along the administrative boundary lines, and create security conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and unhindered return and reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees.

Mr. President, across the globe, the United States promotes respect for the human rights, dignity, and humanitarian needs of internally displaced persons and refugees. We are alarmed by the increasing number of ongoing and urgent conflict-driven crises involving human rights violations and abuses as well as limits on humanitarian access. With forced displacement and humanitarian needs reaching unprecedented levels year after year, there is no time to waste.

We encourage the UN to strengthen its vision for improving protection and assistance for internally displaced persons, and create incentives for development and peacebuilding actors and affected states to increase their efforts to meet the needs of internally displaced persons and refugees.

Thank you, Mr. President.