Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Meeting of the Security Council “Letter dated 28 February 2014 from the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2014/136)”

Statement by H.E. Frans Timmermans Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands New York, 21 July 2014

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, or international obligations, such an HIV-AIDS conference.

Since Thursday, I’ve been thinking how horrible the final moments of their lives must have been, 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. It has has caused grief, anger and despair. Grief for the loss of 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 imagine for one minute, not as representatives of your countries, but as fathers and mothers, just imagine that one day you lose your loved one and then two or three days later see some thug steal their wedding ring from their remains.

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. 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 or passports, including passports of children being shown, are turning our grief and mourning into anger. 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.

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 the 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 that to the victims; we owe it to justice; we owe it to humanity. Please, provide full cooperation, so that justice can be served.

My country will not rest until all facts are known and justice is served.

I thank you, Mr. President.