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Australia on the United Nations Security Council 2013–2014

Responding to the downing of Flight MH17

A sunflower next to wreakage in a field
The wreckage of flight MH17 two days after it crashed in a sunflower field near the village of Rassipnoe, in east Ukraine. (Credit: AFP)

On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was brought down in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border – the scene of heavy fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists. All 298 people aboard the plane were killed, including 38 people who called Australia home.

Australia pushed quickly for a strong Council response to a clear violation of international law and a threat to international peace and security. Over the past 60 years, nearly 20 civilian planes have been shot down in various places around the globe. Prior to the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17, only two had been discussed by the Council formally in substantive meetings – Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983 and Iran Air flight 655 in 1988.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Australia drafted and led negotiations on a resolution condemning the downing of flight MH17 which was adopted unanimously on 21 July 2014 as Resolution 2166. At Australia's insistence, the resolution called on separatists at the crash site to ensure the bodies of the victims were treated with dignity and respect. The resolution also underlined the need for a full, thorough and independent investigation into the crash and demanded military activities in the area cease to enable access to the site. The resolution further demanded that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability.

Resolution 2166 was the first resolution on Ukraine adopted by the Council since the outbreak of conflict in February 2014. The resolution was a vital point of pressure on those who controlled the crash site to allow access for investigators from Australia and other countries and enabled the victims of flight MH17 to be repatriated and returned to their loved ones.

Australia has a direct interest in the full implementation of Resolution 2166 and will continue working with our partners on the Council, including 2015-16 members Malaysia and New Zealand, to ensure this occurs.

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Last Updated: 18 March 2015
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