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UN experts call for end to Russian aggression against Ukraine and urgent protection of human rights

28 February 2022

GENEVA (28 February 2022)UN human rights experts* today called on the Russian Federation to immediately end its aggression against Ukraine and call off its unnecessary and unprovoked military attack. They issue the following statement:

“We are collectively outraged and distressed by the Russian Federation’s aggression on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Use of force by one State against another is fundamentally unacceptable and strikes at the very heart of the object and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.

The consequences of this military attack on the protection and promotion of human rights in Ukraine will be profound and long-lasting and will cause immense suffering and irreparable harm through human rights and humanitarian law violations, forced displacement of civilians and environmental destruction. The consequences will last for generations.

We are profoundly concerned about the safety and protection of everyone in Ukraine and the well-founded fear which now pervades the daily life of every member of that society, and which has forced many to flee their country for safety.

The UN Charter, from which our collective work as experts on human rights flows, was created expressly to settle differences between States and to peacefully prevent armed conflict and protect the right to self-determination. By doing so, it establishes the basis for protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people.

We express our profound dismay at the violations of the right to life, liberty and security that have already occurred. The right to life is the bedrock right of our international legal order and the core human right which enables all other rights to be exercised. We are also profoundly troubled by the impact of the conflict on freedom of assembly, association and expression, including restrictions within the Russian Federation and call for all those arrested and detained to be treated consistently with the Russian Federation’s international human rights obligations.

We strongly urge the Russian Federation to listen to the collective voice of the international community which has unequivocally condemned its military actions as unacceptable to all.

As human rights experts, we urge the Russian Federation to observe and respect the principles of international law including the laws and customs of war related to the protection of the civilian populations, to end these hostilities immediately and unconditionally, and to restore the ability of the Ukrainian people to exercise all of their fundamental rights without military or external interference.”

ENDS

*The experts: Fionnuala Ní AoláinSpecial Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorismTlaleng MofokengSpecial Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Siobhán MullallySpecial Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children;Morris Tidball-BinzSpecial Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executionsIrene KhanSpecial Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expressionMary LawlorSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defendersClément Nyaletsossi VouleSpecial Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of associationOlivier De Schutter,Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rightsSorcha MacLeod (Chair-Rapporteur), Jelena Aparac, Ravindran Daniel, Chris Kwaja, Working Group on the use of mercenariesMelissa Upreti (Chair), Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, and Meskerem Geset TechaneWorking Group on discrimination against women and girlsTomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Elina Steinerte (Chair-Rapporteur), Leigh Toomey, Mumba Malila, Priya GopalanWorking Group on arbitrary detentionVitit Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on Cambodia; Obiora Okafor, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rightsClaudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older personsGerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Fabián SalvioliSpecial Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrencePedro Arrojo AgudoSpecial Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitationAhmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or beliefJavaid RehmanSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of IranMichael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Yao AgbetseIndependent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African RepublicLuciano Hazan (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Aua Baldé (Vice Chair), Ms. Gabriella Citroni, Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius and Mr. Tae-Ung Baik, The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary DisappearancesJosé Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international orderDavid R. Boyd , the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environmentMarcos A. Orellana, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing; Mama Fatima Singhateh, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material; Attiya WarisIndependent Expert on foreign debt, other international financial obligations and human rightsTendayi AchiumeSpecial Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intoleranceReem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Alice Cruz, Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Ms. Elżbieta Karska (Chairperson), Fernanda Hopenhaym (Vice Chairperson), Surya Deva, Anita Ramasastry Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprisesKoumba Boly BarrySpecial Rapporteur on the right to educationMuluka Anne Miti-Drummond, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinismDominique Day (Chair), Catherine S. Namakula (Vice-Chair), Miriam Ekiudoko, Sushil Raj, Barbara G. Reynolds Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. Gladys Acosta Vargas, Chair, on behalf of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against WomenCarmen Rosa Villa Quintana, Chair, on behalf of the Committee on Enforced disappearances; Mikiko Otani, Chair, on behalf of the Committee on the Rights of the ChildRosemary Kayess, Chair, on behalf Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;  Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea; Suzanne Jabbour, Chairperson, and the Bureau, on behalf of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT); Can Osman Unver, Chairperson, and the Bureau, on behalf of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; Mr Tomás OJEA QUINTANA - Special Rapporteur on human rights in the DPRK.

The Special Rapporteurs 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 inquiries and media requests, please contact Michelle Erazo (+41 22 917 9449 / [email protected]). 

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact: Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 79 444 7578 / [email protected])

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts and UN Treaty Bodies experts on @UNTreatyBodies.

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