The UN Security Council met on 6 June for an emergency session to discuss the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine. Switzerland expressed its deep concern about these new developments, which place an additional burden on the civilian population marked by Russia's ongoing military aggression. They further increase the burden on the civilian population suffering from Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. UN Secretary-General António Guterres also spoke out yesterday via a media release, stating that the extent of the damage was still difficult to determine, but it was already clear that we are facing a humanitarian, economic and environmental catastrophe".

Thousands of people are affected by this disaster. In addition to the devastating short-term consequences in southern Ukraine, serious long-term consequences must also be expected. "Switzerland is concerned about the risks that massive flooding could pose to the environment, as well as to energy and food security, including water supplies," Adrian Dominik Hauri told the Security Council in New York.

This event is a sad example of the connection between water and the protection of civilians, which the UN Security Council, at the request of Switzerland and Mozambique, has already addressed in detail in March 2023. In particular, the fresh water supply in southern Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, depends to a large extent on the Nova Kakhovka dam. There are also large agricultural areas in these regions. In this crisis situation, the protection of the civilian population must be paramount, as required by international humanitarian law. The protection of the environment in armed conflicts is also of central importance. Switzerland is ready to fully support the immediate response of the UN and humanitarian partners who, in coordination with the Ukrainian government, are doing everything in their power to provide vital assistance, including ensuring the supply of drinking water. All parties to the conflict are obliged to ensure humanitarian access to all persons in need of assistance.

The Nova Kakhovka dam is also central to the cooling system of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, on which the Security Council recently discussed during Switzerland's presidency under the leadership of Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. The "seven pillars" defined by Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), state, among other things, that the integrity of the plant and logistical supplies must be guaranteed at all times.

In view of the urgency and seriousness of the situation, Switzerland underlined in the Council that attacks on civilian infrastructure are unacceptable. International humanitarian law prohibits attacks on civilian objects and provides special protection for dams. Switzerland calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law. Once again, Switzerland condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately de-escalate the situation, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay.