Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNGA plenary meeting on the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNGA plenary meeting on the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

Mr. President,

Ukraine is proud to be among the main sponsors of today’s resolution which cosponsored by almost half of the UN membership.

Last year we celebrated both the 75th anniversary of the United Nations as well as the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) at the 2005 World Summit. Let me reaffirm my Government’s commitment to the World Summit Outcome Document adopted by the General Assembly resolution without vote, in particular to the provisions on Responsibility to protect all populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

My country is a party to the core instruments of international law relating to prevention of atrocity crimes, protection of populations, upholding human rights and elimination of all forms of discrimination.

Ukraine was a part of group of states who initiated the inclusion of R2P item into the agenda of 75th session of the General Assembly as well as in all previous sessions. During the COVID-19 pandemic which led to health, humanitarian and human rights crisis and increased risks of serious human rights violations and atrocity crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, consideration of R2P became more acute.

My delegation is grateful to the UN Secretary-General and Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect for this year report highlighting that R2P remains a “constant global challenge and an ongoing imperative”.

We fully agree with the report provisions that prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is “an ongoing process that requires sustained efforts to build the resilience of societies by promoting respect for the rule of law and human rights without discrimination; establishing legitimate and accountable national institutions; eliminating corruption; managing diversity constructively; and supporting a strong and diverse civil society and a pluralist media”.

Unfortunately, certain countries, which made the same commitment fifteen years ago, today are trying to oppose a discussion the matter and inclusion in the General Assembly’s annual agenda an item on R2P.

Mr. President,

Ukraine has already expressed on many occasions its strong belief that R2P concept fully excludes any possibility of covert usage of military force by one State against another State under pretext of population protection leading to occupation of the territory.

Nevertheless, the exploitation of R2P for strategic and security purposes continues. The General Assembly in its relevant resolutions condemned the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation showing its total intolerance to manipulations of R2P principles. The Russian occupation authorities continue to deny access to Crimea for international human rights mechanisms to assess the situation on the ground and make respective recommendations for early warning.

That country also neglects the life and safety of people of Ukraine in certain temporary occupied areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and conducts actions in contradiction of spirit and letter of R2P, that have to be immediately ceased.

At the same time, the ongoing occupation of parts of its territory limits Ukraine’s ability to implement Pillar I of R2P. In Crimea, the Russian occupation regime continues to deny access for international human rights observers, including the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

In the context of today’s discussion, it is worth mentioning that human rights and humanitarian presence constitutes a critical part of a prevention mechanism, which in addition to monitoring can also identify risks for sharp deterioration of the situation and make respective recommendations for early action.

I would like to underline that the impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, unwillingness to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these crimes including massive, serious or systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law will led to their recurrence and undermine our multilateral efforts with regards to R2P.

Mr. President,

Turning to Pillar II and especially Pillar III, we would like to highlight the role of the United Nations through its organs in prevention of atrocity crimes.

An especial responsibility for this rests with the United Nations Security Council. However, the use of “veto” or even a mere threat to use it can stall the Council response in situations when urgent action is needed to protect civilians.

In this regard, we would like to reiterate our strong position on the need to phase out “veto” as a major obstacle to the Council’s ability to act efficiently in certain situations.

In this regard, we have supported all kinds of ideas against the misuse and abuse of the “veto” power. For instance, the French-Mexican initiative and the ACT Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

However, we are also convinced that the use of “veto” should also be restricted in cases when a permanent member is directly involved in the conflict under consideration of the Council or is a party to dispute and, therefore, cannot be expected to exercise its voting rights and privileges in an impartial manner.

Nevertheless, in the current state of affairs it is quite possible that the Security Council will again fail to act as it did on many occasions already. Therefore, the we need to be ready activate the United Nations General Assembly responsibility and role to this end.

In conclusion, let me once again underline the importance of prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and refer to the recommendations from the above mentioned report regarding the need to strengthen atrocity prevention assessment, response mechanisms and atrocity resilience.

We believe that inclusion of R2P in annual agenda will enhance the United Nations General Assembly ability to take fair, just, efficient and result oriented decisions in proper implementation of R2P.

Thank you.