Ukraine

Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Ukraine and Closes Special Session

The Human Rights Council this afternoon closed its thirty-fourth special session after adopting a resolution on the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression, in which the Councilreiterated its demand for an immediate cessation of military hostilities against Ukraine and requested the Independent International Commission of Inquiry to conduct an inquiry, consistent with its mandate and international standards, and in coordination with other national and international mechanisms, to address the events in the areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions in late February and March 2022, including their gender dimension, with a view to hold to account those responsible.

In the resolution, that was adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, two against and 12 abstentions, the Council also urged the Russian Federation to provide representatives and staff of international human rights and humanitarian institutions, including United Nations specialised agencies, with unhindered, timely, immediate, unrestricted and safe access to persons who had been transferred from conflict-affected areas of Ukraine and were held on the territory of the Russian Federation or areas controlled or occupied by the Russian Federation, and to share with relevant parties a comprehensive list of such transferred persons and their whereabouts.

In the discussion prior to the adoption of the resolution, speakers raised, among other things, the importance of ensuring accountability for all violations and abuses perpetrated in Ukraine. Justice must be served for these and all other crimes through the relevant international instruments. Russia should immediately cease its aggression, withdraw all its forces from the whole territory of Ukraine, and provide international human rights and humanitarian institutions with unhindered, immediate and safe access to persons transferred from conflict-affected areas of Ukraine and held on the territory of Russia or areas controlled or occupied by the Russian Federation.

Speaking in the discussion were the representatives of Georgia, Israel, Estonia, Slovakia, Belgium and Iran.

Also speaking were the Ukrainian Parliament Commission for Human Rights, as well as the following non-governmental organizations: World Organization against Torture, Article 19 - International Centre Against Censorship, International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights House Foundation, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Ingenieurs du Monde, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, United Nations Watch, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Human Rights Watch, International Service for Human Rights, World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, International Program for Human Rights Law, Civicus - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International-Lawyers.org, and Child Rights Connect.

The first meeting of the special session was held this morning and a summary can be found here .

The Council’s regular fiftieth session will be held from 13 June to 8 July 2022

Discussion

In the discussion, speakers raised, among other things, the importance of ensuring accountability for all violations and abuses perpetrated in Ukraine. Summary executions of men, women and children; and sexual- and gender-based violence that could amount to war crimes; and the near-total destruction of Mariupol’s civilian infrastructure were all vitally important issues. Justice must be served for these and all other crimes through the relevant international instruments. Russia should immediately cease its aggression, withdraw all its forces from the whole territory of Ukraine, and provide international human rights and humanitarian institutions with unhindered, immediate and safe access to persons transferred from conflict-affected areas of Ukraine and held on the territory of Russia or areas controlled or occupied by the Russian Federation. The Russian actions represented violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and it would be held accountable.

With its aggression, Russia had started a tragedy that was constantly growing, and which ran counter to the principles on which the United Nations was founded. There could be no impunity, and the role of the Council was crucial in this respect. This war was fuelled by an intensified form of disinformation, in which somebody else besides Russia was the cause of the invasion, and this should be rejected and combatted. The atrocities continued to grow, showing that the creation of a Commission of Inquiry by the Council in March was only part of the necessary international human rights response to the impact of this conflict. The growth of world food insecurity and the blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea were matters of great concern for those who were vulnerable to food and energy insecurity, and this unnecessary situation must be deplored. Immediate solutions should be sought through negotiations. All parties should fully respect international humanitarian law. The actions that had fuelled the conflict must cease; there should be a peace-loving mentality. The war should not be used as an excuse to sell weapons and engage in geo-political and power politics that could only further side-line the multilateral system.

During times of war, the safety of journalists and media workers was paramount, and the Russian Federation had launched abhorrent attacks against journalists who were documenting its crimes against international law, including by resorting to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, kidnapping and murders, with at least 10 reported killings of journalists since the beginning of the war. Abductions and killings of journalists were war crimes, and must be fully investigated with a view to holding those who perpetrated them to account. The Commission of Inquiry must be provided with sufficient resources to investigate and support effective accountability for the escalating crimes committed during the conflict. Human rights defenders and journalists investigating crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine required the efforts of the international community to ensure their safety alongside other particularly vulnerable groups. Equally, Russia’s repression in occupied Crimea continued with arbitrary arrests, torture, politically-motivated criminal convictions, enforced disappearances, and other gross violations of human rights.

Action on Resolution on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Ukraine Stemming from the Russian Aggression

In a resolution (A/HRC/S-34/L.1) as orally revised, on the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression , adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, two against and 12 abstentions, the Human Rights Council reiterates its demand for an immediate cessation of military hostilities against Ukraine, and for all parties to the conflict to respect the fundamental principles and rules of international humanitarian law, including to refrain from any attacks against civilians and civilian objects, and to refrain from any human rights violations and abuses in Ukraine; and to refrain from any State-sponsored disinformation, propaganda for war or advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, related to the aggression against Ukraine; and urges the Russian Federation to provide representatives and staff of international human rights and humanitarian institutions, including United Nations specialised agencies, with unhindered, timely, immediate, unrestricted and safe access to persons who have been transferred from conflict-affected areas of Ukraine and are held on the territory of the Russian Federation or areas controlled or occupied by the Russian Federation, and to share with relevant parties a comprehensive list of such transferred persons and their whereabouts.

The Council requests the Commission of Inquiry to conduct an inquiry, consistent with its mandate and international standards, and in coordination with other national and international mechanisms, to address the events in the areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions in late February and March 2022, including their gender dimension, with a view to hold to account those responsible, and also requests the Commission to brief the Human Rights Council on the progress of that inquiry as part of the oral update to the Council at its fifty-first session, and to include the findings after the completion of that inquiry in its report to the fifty-second session of the Human Rights Council; and requests the High Commissioner to present an oral update on the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in Mariupol, to include an assessment of the nature and causes of violations or abuses of human rights and of violations of international humanitarian law committed there, at the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council, under item 2 to be followed by an interactive dialogue. The Council encourages relevant thematic Special Procedure mandate holders, within their respective mandates, to continue to pay particular attention to the situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression, and urges all relevant parties to cooperate with those mandate holders; and decides to remain seized on the matter.

The results of the vote are as follows:

In favour (33): Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Somalia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.

Against (2): China and Eritrea.

Abstentions (12): Armenia, Boliva, Cameroon, Cuba, India, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media; not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.