STORY: Ukraine Urgent Debate – Human Rights Council
TRT: 3 mins 51s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH Channel 2 / RUSSIAN Channel 1
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 03 March 2022 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Ukraine crisis: Bachelet leads calls for ceasefire in urgent debate at UN’s rights council
An urgent debate on the Ukraine crisis began at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, as UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet led calls for a ceasefire, while insisting that Russia’s “military attack on Ukraine opened a new and dangerous chapter in world history”.
Convened at the request of Ukraine, Council Members gathered in Geneva to consider a draft resolution on the “situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression”, a week after its self-styled “special military operation” began, which has seen heavy shelling of Ukrainian cities.
“One week ago, the Russian Federation's military attack on Ukraine opened a new and dangerous chapter in world history,” Ms. Bachelet said. “Military operations are escalating further as we speak, with military strikes on and near large cities, including Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk, Sumy, Mariupol and Zhytomyr, and the capital, Kyiv. The town of Volnovakha in Donetsk region has been almost completely destroyed by shelling, and its remaining residents have been hiding in basements.”
Latest casualty figures from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) until Tuesday evening indicated 752 confirmed civilian casualties, including 227 killed – 15 of them children, Ms. Bachelet continued. At least 525 have been injured, including 28 children.
Of that number, 323 casualties were recorded in Donetsk and Luhansk regions (65 killed and 258 injured), while 429 casualties were recorded in other regions of Ukraine – Kyiv, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Odesa, Sumy, Zaporizhzhia, and Zhytomyr regions – with 162 killed and 267 injured.
Ms. Bachelet added that “most civilian casualties were caused by the use of heavy artillery, multi-launch rocket systems and air strikes in populated areas, with concerning reports of use of cluster munitions striking civilian targets”.
Rejecting the premise of the debate, Gennady Gatilov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to UN Geneva questioned the motives of those behind international condemnation for his country’s actions: “I would like to ask a question of the representatives of the USA and EU countries: what are the international human rights instruments to which you are party which say that supplying lethal weapons facilitates the saving of human lives? And that those weapons are regularly coming and you are seeing on your TV screens how those weapons are being provided to the Kiev forces.”
Mr. Gatilov added: “The peace and prosperity of Ukraine are not in your interests. The lives of ordinary Ukrainians are of no interest to you. You don’t need a settlement of the situation in Ukraine. The puppet regime of Mr. Zelensky is of interest to you only as a means of pressure and is a trump card in your confrontation with Russia.”
Addressing the Council from Ukraine, Emine Dzhaparova, spokesperson, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, declared that Russia’s “full-scale invasion” had entered its second week, her following overnight reports of huge explosions in Kyiv, and confirmation that Russian troops had taken the key southern port of Kherson.
“Every day, we witness both death and life, dignity and dishonour,” Ms. Dzhaparova said. “Death when, for example, a bleeding six-year-old girl with unicorn pyjamas could not be saved by doctors in Mariopol a couple of days ago…The only reason why this is taking place is because a group of war criminals with an access to the nuclear button concluded that our people are too weak to resist and to fight, and the world would not care. They put themselves above the international law and above the rules-based order.”
Also addressing the rights forum, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, independent UN-appointed rights expert and spokesperson for the Special Procedures Coordinating Committee, said that the military attack “which flagrantly violates international law and strikes at the very heart of the spirit and object of the Charter, is fundamentally an attack on the order that enables our work to further human rights and their objective to promote the respect of human dignity.”
Mr. Madrigal-Borloz, who is also the UN-appointed Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, highlighted allegations of freedom of expression curbs inside Russia.
“Peaceful anti-war demonstrators continue to be arbitrarily arrested, with reports suggesting some 7,000 people have been arrested since Thursday last week,” he said.
The development in Geneva was just the latest expression of international condemnation for the Russian intervention.
It followed UN Member States’ overwhelmingly support on Wednesday for a General Assembly resolution in New York, which demanded that Russia immediately end its military operations in Ukraine, at the culmination of an unscheduled special session that was prompted by the crisis.
A total of 141 countries voted in favour of the resolution, which reaffirmed Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
Only four countries joined Russia in opposing the resolution – Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria – and 35 abstained.
Speaking after the vote, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said that the message of the General Assembly was “loud and clear: end hostilities in Ukraine now. Silence the guns now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy now.”
On Wednesday evening, the International Criminal Court announced that it was opening a probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine.
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan tweeted the decision, adding that his office would be looking for evidence for “any past and present” allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, committed inside Ukraine.
Although Ukraine has accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC since 2013, Russia is not a member of the court. The ICC prosecutes individuals, as opposed to the International Court of Justice, which resolves disputes between countries.