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UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries on fact-finding visit to Ukraine

Mission to Ukraine

10 March 2016

GENEVA (10 March 2016) – A delegation of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries, composed of human rights experts Patricia Arias and  Saeed Mokbil, will visit Ukraine from 14 to 18 March 2016 to gather information on the activities of alleged mercenaries, foreign fighters, as well as private military and security companies.

“The situation in Ukraine is complex and dynamic, and we will be trying to learn about the flows of alleged mercenaries, private military and security contractors, and foreign fighters, and their impacts on human rights,” Ms. Arias said.

“The Working Group aims to gain useful insights into the motivations, funding, organization and human rights implications of these actors in the context of Ukraine,” Mr. Mokbil noted.

“We will also undertake a visit on the ground to conflict zones in order to prepare a comprehensive report with recommendations to help the UN Human Rights Council take the appropriate measures to promote human rights in this region,” he added

The expert group will meet with government officials, parliamentarians, representatives of non-governmental organizations and ‘officials’ of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’, as well as former fighters.

The group’s delegation will share with the media its preliminary observations at a press conference to be held on 18 March at 11:30 at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center (2 Khreshchatyk Street, Kyiv). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Working Group will present a full report of the country visit to the Human Rights Council in September 2016.

The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination was established in July 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. Its mandate was further extended by the Human Rights Council in 2008.

The Working Group is comprised of five independent expert members from various regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Ms. Elżbieta Karska  (Poland).  Other members are Ms. Patricia Arias (Chile), Mr. Anton Katz (South Africa), Mr. Gabor Rona (United States of America) and Mr. Saeed Mokbil (Yemen). Learn more, log on to:

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact:
During the mission: Mr. Uladzimir Shcherbau (+ 38 095 275 2714 / [email protected]
Before and after the mission: Ms. Alisa Clarke (+41 079-752 0481 / [email protected]) and Ms. Jolene Tautakitaki (+41 079-752 0483 / [email protected]) or write to [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])  

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