Statement by Hon. Casten N. Nemra, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
On Behalf of the Group of Friends of Accountability Following Aggression Against Ukraine
34th Special Session of the Human Rights Council to Address the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Ukraine Stemming from Russian Aggression
Thank you, Mr. President,
I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine.
77 days have passed since Russia’s unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine. For 77 days, Russian armed forces have indiscriminately shelled and bombed populated areas of Ukraine, targeted civilians and destroyed and damaged hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, as reported by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Bucha, Kramatorsk and Mariupol are but some of the names now associated around the world with suffering and devastation because of the Russian Aggression.
We deplore the thousands of civilian casualties, including hundreds of children. We are appalled by the continued reports of the use of torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary killings and detention, enforced disappearances and sexual and gender-based violence. These are actions that may amount to war crimes and other crimes under international law. Such atrocity crimes are crimes against all of us.
The Russian state-sponsored massive disinformation campaign is an affront to democratic processes and human rights, and requires all states to be vigilant in exposing the truth. We are gravely concerned about the devastating spillover effects of Russia’s invasion on global food and energy systems. Least developed, lower-income, and middle-income countries as well as persons in vulnerable situations in all regions around the world will be most severely impacted.
Excellencies, we stress the importance of preserving the long record of non-use of nuclear weapons. We call on the Russian Federation to exercise restraint and de-escalate its nuclear rhetoric.
It is imperative that all perpetrators of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law be held to account. Justice for victims is the foundation for future peace and reconciliation and for the prevention of further atrocities. For this, the collection and preservation of evidence is essential.
The Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has a central role to play in this regard. We welcome the swift appointment of its three members and thank them for their update provided to the Council today. We encourage continued efforts to ensure the prompt and full operationalization of the Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged abuses and violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and related crimes, in the context of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. The Group of Friends also welcomes the investigation launched by the International Criminal Court and the recent report by the experts appointed under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Moscow Mechanism as critical steps towards accountability. Importantly, these efforts are complemented by national investigations in Ukraine and other countries, including on the basis of universal jurisdiction, and by the work carried out by the OHCHR, especially the Human Rights Monitoring Mission i Ukraine, and civil society actors.
Coordination of efforts among the different actors is of crucial importance. Therefore, we call on all those involved in the collection and preservation of evidence to coordinate proactively to ensure complementarity and the meticulous collection of the most precise evidence available.
Finally, we reiterate the importance of comprehensive, verifiable and transparent records of casualties in situations of armed violence and conflict, which can contribute to better protection of civilians and help prevent violations of international law.
The process towards accountability will bring challenges but we will not let ourselves be discouraged. The Group of Friends is committed to information-sharing, awareness-building and advocacy. Impunity must be fought, justice must prevail, and international law and human rights must be protected.
10. Czech Republic
27. Marshall Islands
30. New Zealand
31. North Macedonia
41. United Kingdom
42. United States