UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer took the floor at the United Nations Human Rights Council to set forth a 5-point plan on how the UN could show it is serious on Ukraine:
Mr. President, we welcome this urgent meeting on Russia’s aggression against the people of Ukraine.
On the 24th of February, the Ukrainian Ambassador requested this council to meet “as urgently as possible.” Now, in other, past situations, the council convened within a day. Why this time, on Russian aggression, did it wait a full week? For the men, women and children under attack, every day of delay by the international community is lethal.
This Council just heard from the Russian Foreign Minister. He said President Putin has “an unwavering respect for the Ukrainian people,” and that “we do not intend in any way to infringe on the interests of the citizens of Ukraine.”
Mr. President, the opposite is true.
The truth is that Russian forces invaded Ukraine, in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.
The truth is that Russian forces are bombing cities indiscriminately, killing and wounding innocent civilians, a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.
The truth is that Russia’s assault on Ukraine has turned more than half a million people to flee their homes for neighboring countries, killed an estimated 2,000 people, and injured many more. The truth is that Russia is committing war crimes.
And so question before us today is this: Will the international community defend the rules-based international order?
Dictators around the world are watching. If they see that Russia succeeds in its wanton aggression, they will draw the lesson—that anything goes. We will see more invasions, more tyrannies attacking their neighbors, and more terrorism.
The whole world is watching.
Are the United Nations and this Council prepared to defend international peace and basic human rights, and to oppose aggression on a scale unseen in Europe since World War II? Will they uphold their responsibility to defend the rules-based international order?
Let us consider. Two years ago, despite our urgent appeals not to do it, the United Nations elected Russia as a member of this Human Rights Council.
This violated the Council’s own rules. Members are obliged to uphold the highest standards of human rights. Mr. President, does this Council believe that Russia’s bombing of civilians in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other cities and towns across Ukraine upholds the highest standards of human rights?
Under the Council’s rules, members can be removed on account of gross and systematic violations of human rights.
Therefore, if this council is serious about human rights, here’s what it must do:
1: Remove Russia from the Council immediately.
2: Adopt a resolution on the situation of human rights within Russia itself.
3: Establish an independent monitor to protect courageous Russian dissidents, such as Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Muzra, both of whom were poisoned.
4: Abolish the mandate of this Council known as the Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures, the purpose of which is to define sanctions against Russia and other dictatorships as illegal.
5: Demand the High Commissioner and independent experts speak out against the crimes in Ukraine.
Mr. President, the people of Ukraine are under assault. The world is watching. The time to act is now. Thank you.
1/ When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told lies at the United Nations about Putin’s war on Ukraine, I took the floor to call out Russia's disinformation—and to demand that it be expelled from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) March 8, 2022
1/ In tomorrow’s UNHRC urgent debate on Ukraine, I will take the floor on behalf of a group of human rights NGOs to respond to Lavrov:
“Mr. President, we welcome this urgent meeting on Russia’s aggression against the people of Ukraine.” https://t.co/wCf3XN4yeR
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) March 2, 2022