Ukraine urgent debate – Afternoon
Statements from Poland, the EU, Germany, Venezuela, the US, China and Great Britain.
Urgent debate on Ukraine continues at the UN Human Rights Council, with statements from Poland, the EU, Germany, Venezuela, the US, China and Great Britain.
The urgent debate was requested by Ukraine to consider a draft resolution on the human rights situation in the country, following Russia’s invasion. The 47 members of the council convened in Geneva to discuss whether to set up a commission to investigate alleged violations of international human rights and international law in Ukraine.
The draft resolution condemns Russia’s invasion, demands the withdrawal of its troops, and calls for the urgent establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry.
In a video message screened at the council this afternoon, Polish foreign minister insisted the aggression conducted by the Russian Federation with the support of Belarus must stop. A strong supporter of the creation of a commission of inquiry, Mr Zbigniew Rau said “it is crucial to ensure that all perpetrators of these violations are brought to justice. Poland strongly underlines the needs to establish international inquiry for all humanitarian violations committed by Russia in Ukraine.”
A position France, speaking on behalf of the European Union as it holds the presidency of its council, shared. Ambassador Jérôme Bonafont underlined Russia was “manipulating facts with no shame, using the word genocide clearly defined by the UN.”
Concerns about manipulation and misinformation were also reiterated by German Ambassador to the UN. “The Human Rights Council must not be misused as a platform for misinformation”, emphasized Ms Katharina Stasch. “This is not only an attack on Ukraine, this is an attack on the freedom and values of all of us. Almost all countries in the world have a big neighbor: stronger than itself. Do we want to live in a world in which the strong and powerful can attack the less powerful? Do we want to live in a world that is then only watching? My answer is no”.
Russia claims its invasion into Ukraine is a “special operation” aiming to “demilitarize” and “de-nazify” Ukraine’s cabinet. Western governments responded imposing sanctions against Moscow. Measures that will only intensify the crisis said the Ambassador of Venezuela who “rejected the coercive and unilateral measures against Russia.”
For the US, the Human Rights Council must send a clear and unmistakable message. With 6’000 anti-war Russian demonstrators detained according to Washington, US Ambassador Sheba Crocker underlined “the Russian people are not our enemy. We applaud those brave Russians who are risking their personal safety by peacefully protesting their government terrible and mistaken war”.
One million refugees have fled Ukraine in just a week. China, who said no to sanctioning Russia, explained it opposes the “politicization of Human Rights issues, using them as a pretext to exert pressure on other countries. “We don’t support any act that may stimulate conflict”, added Mr Chen Xu, Ambassador to the UN, in total disagreement with his British counterpart. “There are multiple allegations of war crimes as a result of the Russian military action. It is unconscionable, to think that a fellow member of this council, a nation that fought so courageously with us to defeat fascism, would commit this egregious violation. President Putin has proved he has no respect for Human Rights, the UN charter or international law,” said Mr Simon Manley.
A commission of inquiry is one of the strongest tools the HRC can use to promote accountability and counter impunity for grave rights violations. Its findings may lead to political sanctions.