On April 16, 2014, the United Nations Security Council convened to discuss the work of the UN’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Ukraine. The report looks at the root causes of the protests that have taken place since November 2013, assesses the human rights situation in Crimea, and makes recommendations for the way forward.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said, “The independent and impartial reporting we have heard today is essential to prevent the kind of distortions that may lead to further instability in an already combustible situation — a situation that continues to grow more dangerous every day.”
Ambassador Power continued, “…Let us consider some of the truths set forth in the High Commissioner’s report. From December of last year until February of 2014, the Berkut special police and other elements of the federal security apparatus used excessive force against anti-government protesters. This deadly violence did not end until former President Yanukovych abandoned his office and fled the country. Since late February, when the new government assumed office, evidence of human rights abuses has decreased dramatically – except in the Crimea, where Russian policies threaten the rights of Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, and other minority groups.
“Let me emphasize that, according to this new independent report, the only region of Ukraine that has suffered a rapid deterioration in human rights is the part over which the government in Kyiv has least control. In Crimea, where the role of Russian authorities is as profound as it is illegal; journalists and human rights defenders have faced harassment and torture; censorship is common; and the presence of paramilitary and soldiers ‘widely believed to be from the Russian Federation’ has sharply inhibited freedom of expression. The report raises valid concerns about the introduction of Russian citizenship in a region that does not belong to Russia; discrimination against Ukrainian citizens inside their own country; and a plethora of practical issues related to property ownership, pensions, wages, health care, labor rights, education, and access to justice.”
Ambassador Power concluded, “…The release of this human rights monitoring report should remind us all of our responsibilities. The government of Ukraine has a responsibility to continue its reform initiatives and to ensure inclusivity and respect for the human rights of all groups. The people of Ukraine have a duty to cooperate with their government and fellow citizens in seeking to resolve disputes through peaceful means. The Russian Federation has an obligation to fulfill its commitments under international law, to respect the rights and the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine, and to back its professed desire for stability with actions designed to achieve that goal, instead of its opposite.
“The Russian Federation must move its troops back from the border region, withdraw its forces from Crimea, and cease all efforts to destabilize Ukraine. The international community has a responsibility to support the people of Ukraine in their desire to build a strong and united country with a robust democracy and effective national and regional institutions. We have a collective responsibility, as well, to do all we can to prevent further bloodshed and to find a peaceful and just conclusion to what has been a tragic and unnecessary crisis.”
- Source: DipNote, the official blog of the U.S. Department of State