Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the meeting of the UNGA Sixth Committee on the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the meeting of the UNGA Sixth Committee on the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions

As prepared. Check against delivery

70 years ago, the strive to respect for human personality and dignity, principle of non-discrimination at any circumstances, as well the need to ensure protection of peoples of all nations at the time of war led to the adoption of the four Geneva Conventions and its Protocols.

Throughout the years, these cornerstone documents resulted at the greater protection of each individual from the scourges of war. The ratification of and their recognition by almost every State of the world made the principles and legal norms enshrined in these Conventions recognized as customary international humanitarian law.

As the indicators of peace and security continue to regress in the 21 century bringing deliberate acts of violence against those protected under the international humanitarian law to new heights, the role of the four Geneva Conventions and its Protocols cannot be merely taken for granted. It is therefore imperative that international humanitarian law is fully respected and protected from any attempts to derail it.

In these circumstances, we deeply regret the practice by one particular UN member state - the Russian Federation - of “cherry-picking” of its obligations under the international law. Just recently Russia recalled the statement made at the ratification of Additional protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions related to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts”. This statement recognized the competence of International Fact-finding Commission, which is a key mechanism in achieving objectives, undertaken by the States parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and to Protocol I, to "respect" and "ensure respect" for the provisions of those treaties.

Does this decision serve to strengthen our collective challenge to ensure implementation of the IHL or better treatment of protected persons? The answer is obvious.

By recognizing the Commission's competence, a State contributes significantly to the implementation of international humanitarian law and to ensuring compliance with it during armed conflict. By depositing a declaration of recognition, a State therefore takes an important step in securing the fundamental guarantees laid down for the victims of armed conflict.

And vice versa, by withdrawing a declaration of recognition, a State shows its disregard for IHL and its reluctance to the Commission's investigation of facts alleged to be a grave breach as defined in the Conventions and the Protocol or other serious violations of the Conventions or the Protocol.

Similar approach, namely to avoid responsibility, was used by Russia with the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights decisions as well as with the decision not to become a party to the Rome Statute after signature.

To conclude, let me reiterate that in 1949 the world acknowledged the importance of protecting people from the worst of warfare. Unfortunately, 70 years later, Russia brings new approaches of the modern essence of war and aggression. We believe that celebration of significance of the Geneva Conventions and its Protocols should consist of universal and unequivocal respect and practical implementation of these cornerstone international instruments.