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United Nations Security Council Adopts Australian-Led Resolution 2166 On Flight MH17

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted an Australian-led resolution demanding an international investigation of the downed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.


The 15-member Security Council, including Russia, adopted the resolution after minor amendments were made to satisfy Russia. One change replaced “shot down” with “downed”. Russia had the power to veto the resolution but did not do so.

The full text of the Resolution is shown below.

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, who oversaw the negotiations on the resolution, spoke to the Security Council after its passage.

The Foreign Minister of The Netherlands, Frans Timmermans, delivered a powerful and emotional address. He told Bishop: “We are in this together.” Later the two ministers held a joint media conference.

  • Listen to the Security Council vote and Julie Bishop’s speech (8m – transcript below)
  • Listen to Frans Timmerman’s speech to the Security Council (7m – transcript below)
  • Watch Timmermans (7m)
  • Listen to the joint media conference with Bishop and Timmermans (9m – transcript below)

Full text of the UN Security Council Resolution 2166 on Flight MH17.


The Security Council,

Deploring the downing of a civilian aircraft on an international flight, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, on 17 July in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, with the loss of all 298 passengers and crew on board,

Reaffirming the rules of international law that prohibit acts of violence that pose a threat to the safety of international civil aviation and emphasizing the importance of holding those responsible for violations of these rules to account,

Recalling its press statement of 18 July 2014,

Stressing the need for a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines, noting in this regard the crucial role played by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in aircraft accident and incident investigations, and welcoming the decision by ICAO to send a team to work in coordination with the Ukrainian National Bureau of Incidents and Accidents Investigation of Civil Aircraft in this investigation, following a request for assistance by Ukraine to ICAO and others,

Expressing serious concern that armed groups in Ukraine have impeded immediate, safe, secure and unrestricted access to the crash site and the surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and representatives of other relevant international organizations assisting the investigation in accordance with ICAO and other established procedures,

1. Condemns in the strongest terms the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives;

2. Reiterates its deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of this incident and to the people and governments of the victims’ countries of origin;

3. Supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines;

4. Recognizes the efforts under way by Ukraine, working in coordination with ICAO and other international experts and organizations, including representatives of States of Occurrence, Registry, Operator, Design and Manufacture, as well as States who have lost nationals on MH17, to institute an international investigation of the incident, and calls on all States to provide any requested assistance to civil and criminal investigations related to this incident;

5. Expresses grave concern at reports of insufficient and limited access to the crash site;

6. Demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage, equipment, debris, personal belongings, or remains, and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unrestricted access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and representatives of other relevant international organizations according to ICAO and other established procedures;

7. Demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation;

8. Insists on the dignified, respectful and professional treatment and recovery of the bodies of the victims, and calls upon all parties to ensure that this happens with immediate effect;

9. Calls on all States and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate and unrestricted access to the crash site as referred to in paragraph 6;

10. Welcomes in this regard the statement on 17 July 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE and demands that the commitments outlined in that statement be implemented in full;

11. Demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability;

12. Urges all parties to the Convention on International Civil Aviation to observe to the fullest extent applicable, the international rules, standards and practices concerning the safety of civil aviation, in order to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, and demands that all States and other actors refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft;

13. Welcomes the full cooperation of the United Nations offered by the Secretary-General in this investigation, and requests the Secretary-General to identify possible options for United Nations support to the investigation and to report to the Security Council on relevant developments;

14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Joint media release by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

UN Security Council resolution on the downing of flight MH17

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the armed separatist groups controlling the MH17 crash site to allow unfettered access to international investigators.

Australia played a lead role, authoring the resolution which was adopted in New York on July 21 (July 22 Australian time).

It calls on the separatists to ensure the bodies of the 298 victims – including 28 Australians and nine Australian permanent residents – are treated with the utmost dignity and respect and returned to their grieving families.

The resolution underlined the need for a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the crash and demanded all military activities in the area cease to allow immediate, safe, secure and unrestricted access to investigating authorities.

It asks all countries to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice.

Today’s resolution lends the full weight of the Security Council in condemning the attack and extending the international community’s deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of all the victims of this tragic incident.

Australia welcomes the UN Secretary-General’s offer of assistance to the investigation. The United Nations will continue to have a crucial role in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy.

Australia will continue to do everything in its power to ensure this barbaric act is thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

Statement by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to the UN Security Council, following its unanimous vote in support of Resolution 2166.


Adoption of Resolution 2166 – Flight MH17

The adoption of this resolution is a decisive step by the Security Council. It is an unambiguous response from the international community to an utterly deplorable act – the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board, including 80 children.

The passengers were citizens of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines and the United Kingdom. These Governments have all co-sponsored this resolution today. For that I am deeply grateful. A number of victims were dual nationals of other countries. They were all innocent people, on a commercial aircraft. Their plane was shot down, over territory controlled by separatists in eastern Ukraine. This is an absolute outrage.

Our nation is devastated by the loss of so many Australians – thirty seven people who called Australia home. They were travelling home from Europe.

A couple, both teachers, on holiday to celebrate their retirement. A 25 year old, travelling in Europe, like so many young Australians do. Yesterday I spoke to a husband and wife from Perth who had been on a family holiday in Europe. They had decided to stay on for only a couple of days, while their three children – aged 12, 10 and 8 – had to return to school in Australia, so they went on ahead with their grandfather on flight MH17. The parents are inconsolable in their grief.

Among the victims were: scientists; medical researchers and doctors, who were travelling to Melbourne for the International AIDS Conference which began yesterday; people who had dedicated their lives to helping others.

Our nation mourns the death of all the victims. I cannot begin to fathom the pain and anguish their family and friends are experiencing. But grief is now accompanied by outrage as we witness grotesque violations at the crash site. This demands a response. That is why Australia has brought this resolution to the Security Council. Today, the Security Council has responded.

Our resolution demands that armed groups in control of the crash site provide safe access immediately to allow for the recovery of the bodies, and that these armed groups stop any actions that compromise the integrity of the crash site. This is imperative. There must be a ceasefire in the immediate area around the site. The victims must be treated with dignity, brought back to their homes and laid to rest. All parties are required to fully cooperate with these efforts. Russia must use its influence over the separatists to ensure this. Russia must also use its influence to bring the conflict in Ukraine to an end.

Our resolution also demands a full, thorough and independent international investigation into this act. We must have answers. We must have justice. We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible.

The resolution acknowledges the investigations already under way. It demands that safe, secure, full and unrestricted access to the crash site be provided so the investigating authorities can carry out their work. It is despicable that this access is not being provided. It is an affront to the victims and their families. All states, armed groups – everyone – must cooperate with the investigation.

We welcome the UN Secretary-General’s offer of assistance to the investigation. The United Nations will continue to have a crucial role.

Mr President,

The message from this Council to those who were responsible for this atrocity is definitive – you will be held to account for your actions.

Australia will continue to do everything we can to ensure this barbaric act is thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice.

We have an overriding objective – to ensure dignity, respect and justice for those killed on MH17. We will not rest until this is done. We will not rest until we bring them home.

Statement by Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands.

Statement by Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


Mr. President,

We are here to discuss a tragedy: the downing of a commercial airliner and the death of 298 innocent people. Men, women and a staggering number of children lost their lives, on their way to their holiday destinations, their homes, loved ones, their jobs or international obligations, such as an important HIV/Aids conference in Australia. Since Thursday, I have been thinking: how horrible must have been the final moments of their lives, when they knew the plane was going down. Did they lock hands with their loved ones, did they hold their children close to their hearts, did they look each other in the eyes, one final time, in a wordless goodbye? We will never know.

The demise of almost 200 of my compatriots has left a hole in the heart of the Dutch nation, has caused grief, anger and despair. Grief for the loss of the loved ones, anger for the outrage of the downing of a civilian airplane and despair after witnessing the excruciatingly slow process of securing the crash site and recovering the remains of the victims.

It is fitting that this august Council should take position on this matter and I welcome the adoption of today’s resolution of the UNSC, which was tabled by Australia and which the Netherlands co-sponsored. I thank the countries which expressed support for it. And I particularly want to thank Julie Bishop personally. Julie, we are in this together.

Mr President,

For the Netherlands, one priority clearly stands out above all others: bring the victims’ remains home. It is a matter of human decency that remains should be treated with respect and that recovering victim’s remains should be done without any delay.

The last couple of days we have received very disturbing reports of bodies being moved about and looted for their possessions. Just for one minute, not addressing you as representatives of your countries, but as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, just imagine that you first get the news that your husband was killed, and then within two or three days, you see images of some thug removing the wedding band from their hands. Just imagine that this could be your spouse.

To my dying day I will not understand that it took so much time for the rescue workers to be allowed to do their difficult jobs and that human remains should be used in a political game. And somebody here around the table talks about a political game – this is the political game that is being played, with human remains, and it is despicable. I hope the world will not have to witness this again, any time in the future.

Images of children’s toys being tossed around, luggage being opened and passports, including passports of children, being shown on television, they are turning our grief and mourning into anger of a whole nation. We demand unimpeded access to the terrain. We demand respectful treatment of the crash site. We demand dignity for the victims and the multitudes who mourn their loss.

I call on the international community, on the Security Council, on anyone with influence on the situation on the ground: allow us to bring the victims’ remains home to their loved ones without any further delay. They deserve to be home.

As we are currently taking the lead in the forensic examination of the human remains, I pledge that the Netherlands will do its utmost to make sure that all remains will be identified and returned home, where ever that home may be.

We will work intensively with all countries and international organizations involved to make this happen as soon as possible.

Mr. President,

I also welcome the setting up of a proper investigation into the cause of the tragedy of MH17, as envisaged in today’s resolution. The Netherlands has agreed to assume a leading role in such an investigation, in close cooperation with the relevant countries, the United Nations and ICAO. I am fully aware of the great responsibility we now take upon ourselves and I give you my personal commitment that we will discharge this responsibility to the best of our abilities. As far as the safety and security of the site and international investigators is concerned, I underline the responsibility the Security Council took upon itself with today’s Resolution to take additional measures if circumstances so require.

Once the investigation ascertains who was responsible for the downing of the flight MH17, accountability and justice must be pursued and delivered. We owe it to the victims, we owe it to justice, we owe it to humanity. Please, provide full cooperation so that justice can be served. We will not rest until all facts are known and justice is served.

I thank you, Mr. President.

Transcript of joint media conference by the Foreign Ministers of Australia and The Netherlands, Julie Bishop and Frans Timmermans.

Joint press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Frans Timmermans


JULIE BISHOP: Five days ago the world was horrified by reports that a commercial airliner, carrying 298 innocent passengers and crew had been shot down over Eastern Ukraine. Five days later, the shock, the outpouring of grief has been overtaken by outrage as we have seen and heard reports of the crash site being contaminated. We have seen and heard reports of bodies being tampered with, of investigators being denied access to the site, and the looting of victims’ belongings.

The options for what has happened have narrowed considerably. And it is now pretty clear what happened; we just need to determine who did it. This plane was shot down in Russian-backed rebel-held territory in Eastern Ukraine. And we need an investigation that is open, and thorough, and independent, and impartial – to find out who the perpetrators are.

That is why Australia moved so swiftly to bring this resolution to the Security Council, because we need the international condemnation of this barbaric act. We drafted the resolution on Friday; we circulated it on Saturday; we negotiated it on Sunday; and today it has been adopted unanimously.

The message from this unanimous resolution to those at the site is: do not tamper with the evidence; allow the investigators full access, unimpeded, unfettered, to the site; do not touch the belongings of the victims – they’re not yours, they belong to the families, and they are evidence; and allow the bodies to be retrieved. The message to the perpetrators from the United Nations Security Council Resolution is: you will be found and you will be brought to justice.

I am joined today by my friend and colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs from the Netherlands. We share the pain and anguish of the Netherlands. Our loss was 37, the Netherlands so many times more, but together we will ensure that this incident will never be repeated. This barbaric act will be the last for we intend to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Our over-riding objective is to bring our people home.

FRANS TIMMERMANS: Thank you very much. I want to start by wholeheartedly thanking Australia for taking the initiative with this resolution, and especially the personal commitment from Julie Bishop that has made this possible. Without her perseverance, we would not be standing here today with this resolution adopted by the Security Council.

The fact that this resolution is now adopted means that, at the highest international level, we have backing for three things. First of all, that we can bring our compatriots back home – wherever that home may be. Secondly, that there will be a thorough, independent international investigation into what has happened. Thirdly, that there will be no impunity. Those responsible for this despicable act will be brought to justice. And Australia and the Netherlands stand firm in their commitment that we will not rest until our people are brought home, until a thorough investigation is committed, until those responsible are put to justice. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you ministers. Michelle Nichols from Reuters. A question for you both: what makes you think that the armed groups on the ground will listen to this resolution? And a question for you Minister Bishop, is Australia considering firing President Putin from the G20 in November over this incident?

JULIE BISHOP: This resolution has been passed unanimously by the most premier international group that we could bring it before – and this includes Russia, who we know has significant influence over the separatists that have control of the territory that is the subject of the crash site. So with Russia’s adoption of the resolution, it is incumbent upon Russia and all parties to ensure that the intent of this resolution is implemented.

As far as the G20 is concerned, that is in November. We are waiting to see the implementation of this resolution to ensure that we can achieve its objectives – and that is to ensure that the bodies are treated with respect and dignity, and we are able to achieve justice. That’s our focus at present.

QUESTION: A question for both of you. Do either of you have an opinion on the Russian statement that it has in fact been cooperating to date?

FRANS TIMMERMANS: Well, we haven’t seen, until today, a firm commitment from President Putin. Today is the first day that he made a public statement that the separatists should cooperate with the international investigation. What I find mind boggling is that you would accuse the Ukrainians of being responsible, and at the same time you would not act while separatists are doing everything to make an independent inquiry impossible or more difficult. So I hope that Russia would now feel its responsibility, act upon its responsibility, if it doesn’t, it is going to have an increasingly isolated position in the international world.

JULIE BISHOP: What we have witnessed over the last five days – the contamination of the site, the removal of bodies, the removal of evidence, the trampling both of bodies and parts of the plane – could have all been prevented. This did not have to be. And Russia has the influence over the separatists and could have enforced an appropriate crash site, and created the conditions for this investigation to have been carried out immediately.

QUESTION: What makes you believe that you can do something in the investigation there if everything has been taken, parts of the missile? And it took this body four days to come up with a resolution. What happened?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, in terms of the resolution, we moved as quickly as we could. I outlined the timeframe. From the moment we heard about the crash and gathered its implications, we moved to draft a resolution, to circulate it, to negotiate it – and then on the first available day, Monday, we’ve adopted it unanimously.

As far as the evidence is concerned, that will be a matter for the investigators. We’ve seen on 24/7 media coverage what has been happening to the site. And so of course we have grave concerns about the integrity of the crash site. It should have been secured, like any airline crash site should be secured. It should have been secured as a crime scene and it has not been. However, we believe that there will be sufficient evidence to enable an impartial investigation team to at least narrow the options to show what happened. We owe it to the families to find those answers.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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