STATEMENT by H.E. MR. Pavlo KLIMKIN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE at the High Level Segment of 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council Geneva, 28 February 2017
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I congratulate you on the assumption of the post of the President of the Human Rights Council, the principal organ for promoting and protecting human rights all over the world.
Today no one has doubt in crucial role of human rights as one of the main UN pillars together with peace and security and development. Indeed, when all three of these pillars are strong and coordinated, they form a solid safeguard for people. Whenever – and wherever – any of these elements weakens, it endangers the whole system and if not further prevented might evolve into the vicious circle of ruining lives and environment all round.
And our planet is too small to leave any of such dangerous moves unattended because the consequences resonate, sooner or later, or sometimes immediately, throughout the globe. Syria or Haiti, Libya or Afghanistan, Burundi or my own country Ukraine, to name just a few, are not isolated examples.
Massive movements of migrants, IDPs and refugees, devastations of nature or world heritage sites, outbreaks of epidemics are challenges for the whole humanity. Many, if not all of this, starts, primarily, with the human rights violations.
It starts when someone disregards the collective wisdom of humanity that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, and decides that some people or a group of people are “more equal than others”. With this, everything becomes possible: neglect of international obligations, rule of force instead of rule of law, instigation of conflicts, armed aggression and bloodshed.
Just last week Ukraine, as the current Presidency of the UN Security Council, held an open debate on conflicts in Europe because we felt that our world has become dangerously insecure and this trend was developing even in the continent, which recent decades had been considered as a safe one.
It is quite easy to indicate one common source of this insecurity in Europe — one state that considers himself “more equal than others”. A strategy to instigate, participate, support and then derail instead of mediating has been used by this state to create a number of volatile hotspots across our continent.
This strategy was applied in Georgia in 2008. It was vigorously activated in Ukraine since 2014. My country endures direct military aggression; with Crimea and part of Donbas being illegally occupied by the Russian Federation.
To date 10,000 have been killed and more than 22,000 wounded in Donbas, and Crimea has become a “grey zone” marred by injustice, terror and repression. The occupying authorities commit systematic violations of human rights and they seek to destroy the identity of Ukrainians and the indigenous people of the peninsula — the Crimean Tatars.
The last is clearly reflected in the UN General Assembly resolution 71/205 “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” adopted last December.
Condemning the serious violations and abuses committed against residents of Crimea, in particular extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment, as well as reported abuses of other fundamental freedoms, the resolution puts forward simple and legitimate requests. The UN Secretary General is invited, through consultations with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to seek ways and means to ensure access to Crimea for regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms, and OHCHR is requested to prepare a thematic report on the situation of human rights in Crimea before the 72nd UN General Assembly session.
The constant presence of international organizations, including the UN, Council of Europe and OSCE must be allowed in the peninsula to monitor the status of human rights and to hold the occupying authorities to respect their obligations under international law.
Impunity should not be tolerated. We are concerned by the recent attempts of some states to desert International Criminal Court. We fully share the position of the High Commissioner for Human Rights who said, quote “By withdrawing from the Rome Statute, leaders may shield themselves with immunities – but it will be at the cost of depriving their people of the protection of a unique and essential institution” – unquote.
Today, global order based on the rule of law has reached a tipping point. There are two options: an ever increasing destabilization or consolidation of the international community around strengthening institutions and the UN Charter ensuring full adherence to international law.
We are staunch supporters of ICC. While preparing to ratify the Rome Statute next year, we have already lodged two declarations, which, combined, accepted the ICC's jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine from 21 November 2013 onwards, with no end date.
On 14 November 2016, ICC issued its preliminary examination of the situation stating that with regard to Crimea and Sevastopol it amounts to international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and an on-going state of occupation by Russia of these territories of Ukraine.
We firmly believe that transparency and openness for international monitoring is the only way to improve the human rights situation. With this in mind we are preparing to undergo our third cycle of Universal Periodic Review this November.
Despite the ongoing external aggression, Ukraine has embarked on a path of comprehensive reforms. Taking forward the human-rights agenda of the reforms is an integral part of this work, which includes implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy and the respective National Action Plan – in close cooperation with civil society and supported by technical assistance from international organizations including the UN.
Following up on a number of Human Rights Council resolutions titled “Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights”, we committed ourselves to close cooperation with the OHCHR and other international human rights mechanisms, as well as to taking on board their recommendations. I invite all interested delegations to take part in the interactive dialogue, to be held on March 22, aimed at discussing human rights challenges my country faces.
Meeting nowadays challenges is not an easy task. We see spreading of evils when terrorism, violent extremism and intolerance start from and end up with aggressive populism, nationalism and xenophobia having nothing in common with human rights.
Ukraine is convinced that there is an inherent need for the relentless efforts of the international community aimed at the prevention of human rights abuses. This Council was created exactly with this purpose. I could only agree with the words of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres: “Prevention is not merely a priority, but the priority. If we live up to our responsibilities, we will save lives, reduce suffering and give hope to millions”.
We would be proud to serve this purpose as a member of the Human Rights Council if elected for the term 2018-2020.
I thank you.