by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
at the 32nd regular session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, June 16, 2016
Thank you, Mr. President.
Throughout this session, many of us refer to the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council, its achievements, challenges or sometimes failures.
Given the grim picture in the field of human rights that still persists in many parts of the world, as it was so passionately highlighted in the High Commissioner’s last update, one may ask if it was the right decision to create this Council 10 years ago? Is it a useful tool?
We believe the only correct answer is yes, and not simply because Ukraine favored this idea from the very beginning and served two consecutive terms in the Council since June 2006. We see a great unexhausted potential in this body.
Those criticizing its “deficiency” might perhaps look first at their own deeds. Is there always a sincere wish from this or another actor to act in the best interests of promotion and protection of universally recognized rights and freedoms?
We think that the Council should avoid isolation from other international institutions. Human rights are transversal and universal, and any activity comprises a human rights dimension. Therefore, we support more synergy between the HRC and the General Assembly, and stand for its rapport with other bodies including the UN Security Council.
In our view, all bodies entrusted with assessing the implementation by countries of their obligations should carefully listen to those they monitor and take into account the objective circumstances that may stand in the way of full compliance with international human rights law. Provided, of course, there is genuine proof of the will to ensure such compliance.
Regardless of geography, these circumstances could be: deep economic crisis, a wave of terrorism and violent extremism sweeping across Europe and Africa, beyond the control of governments concerned, or, as in our case, external aggression fueled by the continued influx from the Russian Federation into parts of our territory of heavy weapons, foreign fighters and mercenaries.
Ten years ago Ukraine issued an open standing invitation for special procedures. Since then nine mandate holders have visited our country. We appreciate their hard and valuable work and, despite all the challenges Ukraine faces now, we look forward to continued cooperation with them and with the Office of the High Commissioner in general.
At the same time, we reject the hypocrisy of those who use criticism about non-compliance with international human rights obligations as a political pressure while all too often not even themselves being parties to the conventions or protocols and remaining intentionally closed to human rights monitoring as, for example, the Russian Federation. Let me remind here that, for the third year already, we insist on allowing unconditional access of international and regional human rights mechanisms to the illegally occupied Crimea and the city of Sevastopol for transparent and impartial monitoring of the situation of human rights there.
As a country suffering from Russian military aggression and grave human rights violations caused by it, we understand from our own experience how much work lies ahead in the areas of prevention and protection of fundamental freedoms and strengthening the comprehensive response to threats to security and human rights.
One of the most dynamically developing regions of the world, Africa, is affected by severe hardships including extreme poverty and appalling forms of terrorism such as Boko Haram, which makes achieving universally recognized human rights standards for many countries of the region incredibly difficult.
Nevertheless, in our view, the international community should look at Africa not as a burden but rather a potential. The reason for it is the youngest population in the world. Only in Nigeria last year more children were born than in the entire European Union. With the appropriate level of international assistance focused, among other things, at proper education, strengthening of the rule of law and consolidation of democratic institutions, future generations may become a backbone of sound and thriving societies where there is no place for grave abuses of human rights and freedoms.
But now, we must find an effective response to the current disasters wherever they occur to protect people, especially those multiply affected: women, girls, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, migrants, IDPs. The threats they are exposed to increase exponentially when a number of categories join in a single person or a particular group. Let me mention here Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of the illegally occupied Crimea, who, being targeted by the occupying authorities, are often forced to flee their native land and become IDPs.
Oddly enough, despite the severity of the current migration crisis in the world, migrants apparently seem more secure than the IDPs. In Ukraine citizens can flee into the mainland from the territories controlled by the Russian occupying authorities or by their puppet illegal armed groups. However, in some countries, entirely tormented by conflicts, the only way out is to become a refugee or remain locked as an IDP in the middle of a raging armed conflict. And this is exactly where the plight of the IDPs is incomparably devastating as this category is the least protected by international law, being a responsibility of rulers who are often themselves the most blatant violators of human rights. It is time to launch a meaningful discussion about the elaboration of a comprehensive international instrument to cover the protection of the rights of the IDPs.
Let me conclude by expressing our high appreciation of the important work of international human rights missions to Ukraine, including the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, undertaken upon the request of the Government of Ukraine.
We find the practice of interactive dialogues when HRC discuss the OHCHR reports on the situation in human rights in Ukraine very useful. This session the delegation of Ukraine tables a draft resolution aimed at continuation of such interactive dialogues in the future. I would like to call upon all delegations to support the draft as well as to invite them to take part in the next dialogue on June 29, 2016.
I thank you.