Geneva, 27 February 2018
Allow me to congratulate you on the assumption of the post of President of the Council for its 12 cycle and assure you of our delegation’s full support.
As Ukraine commences its membership in this main UN human rights body, we solemnly pledge to exert every effort to advance the protection and promotion of human rights and ensure that the Council fulfills its mandate effectively.
In carrying out our three year mandate, we will focus primary attention on three key areas.
Firstly, strengthening human rights as an effective conflict prevention and conflict resolution tool, as an essential component of countering foreign aggression, breaches of international law and encroachments upon the UN Charter-based world order.
Secondly, enhancing prevention of human rights violations to address threats to human security.
Thirdly, overcoming a long-standing ideological and even physical separation between human rights issues in Geneva and security issues in New York.
One of the main responsibilities of this Council is to react in a timely and proper way to human rights’ situations that require urgent attention.
While the HRC has a variety of tools to take action on different issues, they themselves require a closer regular look to ensure that they are adapted to a developing human rights environment, offer sufficient flexibility to address ensuing challenges and equip us with greater creativity in their practical application.
To that end, Ukraine has been promoting, since 2010, an initiative on the role of prevention of human rights violations, with the dedicated support of the core group of States.
I would like to congratulate the Office of the High Commissioner on organizing a successful expert workshop to discuss the role of various stakeholders in the prevention of human rights abuses.
We also support other initiatives aimed at strengthening the prevention scope of the Council’s work.
My country’s recent experience provides us with deeper understanding of the importance of prevention of human rights violations, protection of fundamental freedoms, and strengthening the comprehensive response to threats to security and human rights.
Exactly four years ago, Russia launched a premeditated military aggression against Ukraine, which has led to the illegal occupation of Crimea. Russia attempted its annexation and then expanded the international armed conflict to the Donbas region of Ukraine.
These acts are a crime against international peace; they have already taken the lives of more than 10k people, led to immense destruction and driven around 2 million Ukrainians from their homes.
In Crimea, Russian occupation authorities, in total disregard of international law, resort to large-scale and serious human rights violations in an attempt to break the will and subdue those who disagree with Kremlin’s aggressive policy.
As Ukraine resorts to peaceful means to settle international disputes, Moscow has chosen to blatantly disregard the ICJ Order of 19 April 2017 delivered in the case Ukraine vs. Russian Federation.
Russia also directly supports, finances and leads armed bands, groups, irregulars and mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against Ukraine in the Donbas region.
People in Donbas are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses, including killings, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment – all this is exacerbated by the absence of the rule of law and any redress mechanisms.
We are grateful to the international community for the solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression and the clear stance in defense of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders.
Last December, the General Assembly adopted the second resolution on the human rights situation in Crimea.
To implement it, my country will continue working closely with the UN, the Council of Europe, OSCE and other organizations, as well as with the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, deployed in March 2014 upon invitation of our Government.
It is imperative to ensure constant presence of international organizations, their conventional and monitoring mechanisms in the peninsula to monitor the human rights situation.
Our Council should urge Russia as the occupying power to open Crimea for them.
Protection of the rights of indigenous peoples will be an area of particular attention of Ukraine during its membership.
We will further cooperate with the respective Expert Mechanism.
Today, I come to Geneva together with the Head and Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Messrs. Refat Chubarov and Ahtem Chyigoz. Mr Chyigoz was recently released from Russian captivity, with the valuable support of Turkey.
This afternoon I invite all of you to take part in a side-event on human rights situation in Crimea.
It will further raise international awareness of the human rights situation in Crimea, with a focus on Ukrainian political prisoners illegally detained by Russia. About 60 Ukrainian citizens are currently detained under trumped-up charges in Russia and Russia-occupied Crimea.
The issue of illegally detained and abducted persons has acquired additional significance for Ukraine in the light of recent developments in the region, and we will pay particular attention to this issue while in the Council.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Time and again, we should remind ourselves that interlinkages between peace and security and human rights are too tight to separate them from each other. The breach of universally accepted, UN Charter-based international order leads to armed aggression, which has as its result widespread grave violations of human rights. Throughout the world, we see the hotspots of human rights abuses, and we all know too well that, if not stopped, it could expand to tsunamis of violence. It is our duty to stand up for human rights and universal values.
I thank you.