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Ukraine: a Commission of Inquiry is urgently needed

Oral Statement
Urgent debate on Ukraine
49th session of the Human Rights Council

We stand in solidarity with Ukraine and its people against this war that has already caused unimaginable destruction and suffering. As we speak, our friends and colleagues on the ground – like the rest of the civilian population – are losing their homes and loved ones, are hiding in shelters, are risking their lives to document violations, are fighting and dying.

In just one week, over one million people have fled Ukraine. Some of the cities under attack are running out of drinking water, food, medicines, and other basic items. Reports of indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including through the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas point to the fact that Russia may be committing war crimes.

The Human Rights Council should take a strong and united stand to ensure the protection of a rules-based international order and support the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to collect and preserve evidence and investigate alleged violations and abuses of IHL and human rights. It should also request the UN General Assembly to consider the suspension of Russia’s Council membership. It is inconceivable that a State that has invaded a sovereign neighbour and denies its very right to exist should continue to serve in the world’s key human rights body.

We stand in solidarity with all Russians who did not want this war and who are speaking up despite the very real risk of being arrested, prosecuted or tortured. In the past week, nearly 7000 anti-war protesters have been arbitrarily detained by the police across the country as Russia intensifies its censorship campaign. This Council should urgently address the human rights situation in Russia, including the crackdown on freedoms of expression and assembly by, among others, considering the establishment of a country mandate.

We urge States to maintain access to their territories for all those fleeing and guarantee the existence of humanitarian corridors and safe passages. They should also ensure the safety of human rights defenders, both in Ukraine and Russia, and keep supporting them, including from exile.

Thank you.

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