Statement by Ukraine 5AM Coalition on the inadmissibility of electing the Russian Federation as a member of the UN Human Rights Council
At the meeting on October 10, 2023, the UN General Assembly will consider the election of new members to the UN Human Rights Council. Among the applicants, in particular, the candidacy of the Russian Federation, which has expressed its desire to be elected, will be considered, despite the suspension of its membership in the Council in 2022 after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and mass atrocities by its military.
Ukraine 5AM Coalition of human rights organizations strongly protests against the consideration of the candidacy of the Russian Federation for electing it as a member of the UN Human Rights Council.
We observe the impulses of the international community to look for points of contact and ways for dialogue, but the ongoing aggression and numerous violations of human rights committed by the Russian Federation and its troops in the territory of Ukraine are incompatible with membership in the UN Human Rights Council, which was stated during suspension of its membership in the UN Human Rights Council on April 7, 2022.
To date, the situation has not only not improved but has significantly worsened. Mass kidnappings, torture, extrajudicial executions, sexual violence as a tool of intimidation – this is just a small list of all human rights violations that the Russian Federation and its troops continue to commit in the territory of Ukraine, as noted by Erik Møse, chair of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, in his report. By the way, despite the attempt of the UN Independent Commission to contact the Russian Federation to obtain information about the human rights situation in Ukraine’s territories occupied by it, Russia consistently ignored the experts’ letters, thus hindering their activities.
A similar situation with human rights is observed in the territory of the Russian Federation. The state does not fight against massive violations of human rights. Moreover, it also indulges in contempt for internationally recognized standards of compliance with human rights at the legislative level. This was confirmed by numerous reports by international governmental and non-governmental organizations. As an example, we can cite the conclusions of UN’s Special Rapporteur for Russia Mariana Katzarova.
In addition, the joint report by UN Watch, the Human Rights Foundation and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights testified that the Russian Federation, due to the situation of human rights violations both inside Russia and in the occupied territories of Ukraine, does not meet the requirements for being elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council.
The Russian Federation does not want to cooperate with the international community in the field of human rights protection at the regional level. For many years in a row, the Russian Federation was ranked first among the Council of Europe member states in terms of the number of both individual and interstate complaints. The Russian Federation was expelled from the Council of Europe and has not taken any steps to restore compliance with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and restore its status in the Council of Europe. Thousands of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights still remain unimplemented by Russia, and Russian legislation directly makes such implementation impossible. It should be recalled that Russia ignored two orders of the UN International Court of Justice on interim measures dated April 19, 2017 and March 16, 2022, as a result of which the number of victims of its international illegal acts significantly increased.
In his report to the UN Security Council on June 5, 2023, the UN Secretary-General included the Russian Federation in the list of states that systematically commit crimes against children during armed conflicts for numerous crimes against children during the aggression against Ukraine.
A clear indication that the Russian Federation has no intention of correcting the situation with massive violations of human rights is that, for the first time in its entire history of participation in the activities of the UN Human Rights Council, it nominated its candidacy without providing voluntary commitments and promises in the field of human rights in support of its candidacy in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251.
This eloquently demonstrates that the Russian Federation is not going to take the path of observing human rights and it considers membership in the UN Human Rights Council exclusively as a platform for disdain for international law and spreading its propaganda narratives. The Russian Federation is already implementing a similar strategy during the presentation of oral arguments in the cases that Ukraine initiated against it in connection with the alleged violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
Adding to the cynicism of the situation with Russia’s attempt to get to the UN Human Rights Council are the facts of the brutal and bloody shelling of the civilian population and infrastructure, which the Russian troops committed on the eve of the vote. During October 5-6 alone, more than 50 civilians, including children, were killed as a result of ballistic missile strikes on Kharkiv city and Kharkiv region; dozens more were injured. Also, on October 5, Russian troops shelled a civilian hospital in Beryslav, Kherson region – another attack on Ukrainian healthcare institutions, of which, according to human rights activists, more than 1,000 have been carried out since the beginning of the full-scale invasion and which bear all the signs of war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity.
On April 7, 2022, when the General Assembly suspended the rights of the Russian Federation in the UN Human Rights Council due to massive human rights violations during the aggression against Ukraine, instead of admitting its crimes and ending the violations, it made a demarche in the form of withdrawal from this UN body.
According to UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of March 15, 2006, when electing members of the UN Human Rights Council, UN member states should take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary commitments and promises on that. Since this decision was made, the situation has not improved. The election of the Russian Federation as a member of the UN Human Rights Council will prove that, contrary to the goals of its activities, provided for in Article 1 of the Charter, the United Nations does not protect human rights but condones their violation. As a result, the UN Human Rights Council membership will be devalued and the very existence of the Council will become meaningless.
Ukraine 5AM Coalition strongly believes that the United Nations can and is obliged to ensure the observance of human rights and respect for them. That is why we call on the states to prevent the election of the Russian Federation as a member of the UN Human Rights Council until the moment when the Russian Federation stops its aggression against Ukraine, the consequence of which is numerous gross violations of human rights in the territory of Ukraine. The Russian Federation, before being admitted to the UN Human Rights Council, must demonstrate respect for human rights, proclaimed in numerous UN instruments, as well as ensure accountability for their gross and cynical violation and neglect. Only zero tolerance for states that systematically violate human rights should be a guarantee of the affirmation of human rights as universal human values and ensure the implementation of the goals and principles of the UN.
We appeal to all human rights organizations of the world to join this statement and prevent the collapse of the human rights protection system within the UN!ПІДПИСАТИ