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Human Rights Council Hears from 21 Dignitaries as it Continues High-Level Segment, with Speakers Condemning Russia’s Military Aggression against Ukraine



28 February 2022

The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting continued its high-level segment, hearing statements from 21 dignitaries from Croatia, San Marino, Angola, Andorra, South Africa, Luxembourg, Brazil, France, Iceland, Greece, New Zealand, Canada, Peru, Morocco, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Sweden, Iran, Turkey, Finland and Philippines.

Speakers said that the ongoing Ukrainian crisis had devastating consequences for Ukrainian people but also for European and global security. Russia's military aggression against Ukraine was a clear act of aggression; a blatant breach of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity; and a violation of international law, all gravely endangering the rules-based world order. The humanitarian dimension of this conflict was of grave concern and States pledged to assist Ukraine and its people in these challenging times with humanitarian aid. On COVID-19, speakers said that the pandemic alone had exacerbated many pre-existing situations of fragility and inequality, causing even more damage to vulnerable and marginalised groups. The international community must stand firm in its convictions to protect those most in need, shaping the future to make it a place that could welcome everyone with equal dignity, starting with people with disabilities, the elderly, women, young people and children, who had suffered most from the recent pandemic.

Global warming, the energy crisis, pollution, extreme weather phenomena and all forms of abuse of planet earth would inevitably lead to further unacceptable inequalities among human beings, speakers warned. States were reminded that Ukraine was far from being the only live conflict, with human rights being abused in conflicts in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen. The hard-won rights of women and girls had tragically gone backwards over the past year - most notably in Afghanistan. The plight of civilians in Mali was highlighted along with the coups in Myanmar and Sudan. In the Middle East, a two-State solution risked being replaced by a one-State reality of perpetual conflict. China should grant meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for United Nations experts, and other independent observers. Some speakers said the Council was a proper multilateral forum. It must remain true to its mandate and avoid pitfalls that could ruin it.

The following speakers took the floor: Gordan Grlić Radman, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia; Luca Beccari, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications of San Marino; Esmeralda Mendonça, Secretary of State for External Relations of Angola on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries; Maria Ubach Font, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Andorra; Naledi Pandor, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa; Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs for Luxembourg; Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France; Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation of Iceland; Nikos Dendias, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece; Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand; Mélanie Joly, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; César Landa Arroyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru; Abdellatif Ouahbi, Minister of Justice of Morocco; Dominique Hasler, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and Sport of Liechtenstein; Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights of Pakistan; Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden; Kazem Gharibabadi, Deputy Judiciary for International Affairs and Secretary for High Council for Human Rights of Iran; Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland; Faruk Kaymakcı, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director for European Union Affairs of Turkey; and Menardo I. Guevarra, Secretary of Justice of the Philippines.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council's forty-ninth regular session can be found here.

At 4 p.m. on Monday, 28 February, the Council will hold its annual high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming. This year's theme is the contribution of universal participation to the mainstreaming of human rights throughout the United Nations system on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the work of the Human Rights Council.


GORDAN GRLIĆ RADMAN, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said the ongoing Ukrainian crisis was leaving devastating consequences for Ukrainian people and European and global security. Croatia strongly condemned Russia's unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine. This unprovoked and unjustified invasion presented a gross violation of international law and was gravely endangering and undermining the rules-based world order. Grave human rights violations were happening while the world counted civilian casualties of this senseless and unjustified war. The humanitarian dimension of this conflict was of grave concern. Croatia would assist Ukraine and its people in these challenging times with humanitarian aid and technical assistance. All relevant stakeholders must continue to mitigate both the humanitarian and the human rights situation across Ukraine and raise internationally the awareness on all of its dimensions.

For Croatia, the universal human right to health was not a commodity to be traded with. The effects of climate change and environment degradation continued to affect progressively people around the world. Prolonged conflicts, as well as the breakout of new ones were reflected in an unprecedented number of the Council's special sessions in 2021. The situation in Afghanistan or the armed conflict in Tigray and Sudan were some of the many crises the international community had to address. The international community must do better to prevent and respond to cybercrime and other online offences, and contain the spread of hate speech, racism and xenophobia, discrimination and violence around the world, both online and offline. In conclusion, the Minister said that strengthening human rights and promoting inclusive policies brought stability, prosperity and human dignity to all.

LUCA BECCARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications of San Marino, said the foreign policy of San Marino had always been based on the solid cornerstone of the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, peace and freedom. This vocation had always been reflected in internal policies. Unfortunately, the world was increasingly witnessing dangerous regressions, which threatened the resilience of the global democratic system. The pandemic alone had exacerbated many pre-existing situations of fragility and inequality, causing even more damage to vulnerable and marginalised groups. It was thanks to the Universal Periodic Review that the international community could look forward to improvement, moving swiftly towards effective compliance with international standards for the promotion and protection of human rights.

San Marino had always been a great supporter of multilateralism and international cooperation. Now more than ever, the international community must stand firm in its convictions and in the choice to protect those most in need, with a view to leaving no one behind, shaping the future to make it a place that could welcome everyone with equal dignity, starting with people with disabilities, the elderly, women, young people and children, who had suffered most from the recent pandemic. Sustainability, in all its many forms, was also of fundamental importance in the future that must be created. Global warming, the energy crisis, pollution, extreme weather phenomena and all forms of abuse of planet earth would inevitably lead to further unacceptable inequalities among human beings. Implementing the 2030 Agenda Goals as soon as possible remained the only way to imagine and live the tolerant, respectful and radiant future envisioned.

ESMERALDA MENDONÇA, Secretary of State for Foreign Relations of Angola, speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, reiterated the commitment of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries to upholding human rights. Like all countries, the members of the Community had been harshly affected by the onset of COVID-19 along with simultaneous environmental challenges. In line with the Luanda Declaration, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries was committed to ensure the ability of each Member State to further the cause of social development and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As such, all Member States of the Community underscored the need to uphold and promote gender equality.

Environmental rights were also impacting the members of the Community harshly, notably the small island States. Ms. Mendonça called for the strengthening of solidarity, to ensure no one was left behind. Now was the time to think about how to build sustainable economies for the future. All the members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries were supporting the membership of Timor West and Brazil for the Council for the period 2024-2026, and they reiterated their overall support for the Human Rights Council and all of its work.

MARIA UBACH FONT, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, said the recent attacks against Ukraine were steadfastly condemned, and reminded all that the values of multilateralism could not be taken for granted, and it was up to all to work constantly to ensure that the promotion and protection of human rights were the pillar of the work done at the United Nations. The Russian Federation should halt its operations as soon as possible and respect international humanitarian law. The United Nations Charter was all the more relevant in these dark times, and it was up to all to make sure it was fully enforced. The Human Rights Council was commended for the excellent work undertaken, particularly the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

The COVID-19 pandemic had eroded the rights of all, in particular the protection of the most vulnerable. Andorra was fully committed to protecting the rights of all, including women and children, who were drivers for development. It was in the Human Rights Council that multilateralism was the most relevant. Multilateralism should be the preferred method for resolving conflicts and convincing all of the need to work together to protect and promote human rights. The current situation of the world was a stark reminder of what would happen otherwise. Multilateralism worked for small countries that on an individual level perhaps would not be heard, but working together and as partners could speak together in a louder voice. This allowed all to tackle global challenges such as the pandemic, climate change, and armed conflicts, but this could only be done if the whole international community was engaged in cooperative and supportive multilateralism, leaving no one behind.

NALEDI PANDOR, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said South Africa was deeply concerned by the situation in Ukraine, and welcomed the decision by Ukraine and Russia to hold talks without preconditions. The pandemic was confronting many countries. All inadequacies revealed during the pandemic had to be addressed. Developing countries had to be ensured access to vaccines, while developed countries had to assist those less developed in their socio-economic struggles. South Africa's constitution contained the hopes of people who had endured great suffering and gross human rights violations for over 350 years, experiencing colonialism, racism and apartheid. Nelson Mandela had paid tribute to the great role that the international community had played in achieving equality and assisting in human rights promotion in South Africa. Such a struggle had to be led by the Council in Ukraine as well. The Council could be a place for balancing, unlike the Security Council, allowing these two nations to come together and achieve peace.

South Africa was committed to the advancement of peace, not just within the country, but also across Africa and globally. Human rights had to be given practical meaning, with real and tangible consequences. It had to be done in the spirit of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, interrelated with human rights and promoted as interdependent and on the same footing for all people. The Council was a proper multilateral forum, and it must remain true to its mandate and avoid pitfalls that could ruin it. The Council had to be free of politicisation and double standards and each problem had to be addressed on its own, looking at full dimensions of the problem, be they thematic or country specific. One way to develop this would be by filling gaps in the international human rights law and ensuring adequate funding.

JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs for Luxembourg, reminded the Council that the worst human rights abuses were perpetrated during acts of conflict, and condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine. He reminded the Council that Ukraine was far from being the only live conflict, with human rights being abused in conflicts in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen, where the failure to renew the mandate of the Panel of Eminent Experts had not helped. In Myanmar, the military junta was repressing civilians, and in the Middle East, a two-State solution risked being replaced by a one-State reality of perpetual conflict. Mr. Asselborn regretted that armed conflicts were on the increase at the very time when humanity must face the multiple global scourges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis as well as socio-economic injustices and the political crises that may result from them.

Luxembourg would undergo its fourth Universal Periodic Review next year and would also continue its work as co-chair of the core group of the resolution on the 2030 Agenda and human rights. Luxembourg continued to oppose all forms of reprisals targeting civil society and to support the full participation of independent non-governmental organizations in the work of the Council.

DAMARES ALVES, Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights of Brazil, said the Government had delivered achievements following the mandate given to it by the population. Over 830 million doses of vaccine had been delivered. The Bolsonaro Government had always been promoting and developing peace, as well as freedom and life from the moment of conception, the most essential moment of life. Every death caused by the pandemic was regretted. The Government had aimed to protect its population from the crisis, making emergency aid available, and had defended extending care services at the State level. There was an integrated human rights system that involved federal and municipal levels, allowing swifter responses to human rights violations. More people had been made visible, and systems had been strengthened to tackle aggression, strengthening policies to protect the victims of violence.

The essential right of access to drinking water had been protected. The 30 million people living in the Amazon region were being protected, with a sustainable, human rights-based programme. There were protection systems for those who had received death threats, and an education system ensuring that rights were provided to all, as well as a programme for protecting early childhood. There was a decrease in the number of deaths of the young people dying in violent attacks. International human rights law did not in any way back abortion as a family-planning method. The Government was of Brazil was living up to the highest standards of human rights in supporting democracy and hoped for peace and stability for all.

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said that violations of human rights were a challenge for multilateralism that the international community had been building. Common commitments had to be honoured, and human rights could not be put in relative terms. France was trying to overcome challenges for the common future and reiterated its full support to the work of the Council. The mass military attack that Vladimir Putin chose to unleash on Ukraine required all to be vigilant and resolute when it came to the protection of Ukrainians. Russia's premeditated choice had brought the war back to Europe and now they must face the humanitarian consequences together.

Since the Taliban took power last August, the regime in Kabul had been a threat to women and girls and France could not be a partner to such a regime. The Syrian population was facing martyrdom, following a decade of horror, as reflected in continued shelling of Idlib and its civilian population, with chemical attacks targeting civilians. There were huge numbers of displaced and if Syrian refugees were not returning home, it was because the regime was not offering them an olive branch. In Yemen, the whole region was destabilised. In Ethiopia, efforts of all sides were needed to combat violence against women. The coup in Myanmar was unacceptable. The situation in West Africa was also concerning, especially the situation faced by civilians in Mali. France was resolutely committed to put human rights standards at the heart of response for challenges of the twenty-first century. The Council had recognised a right to a healthy environment, which had to be pursued.

ÞÓRDÍS KOLBRÚN R. GYLFADÓTTIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and stated that Belarus was acting as an autocratic enabler of that conflict. This attack was not only an attack on Ukraine but was part of an ideological battle to undermine democratic norms around the world. In addition to the suffering imposed on Ukrainians, the Minister extended her thoughts to the people of Russia, who were also suffering as a result of these actions. As such she reiterated Iceland's support for an urgent debate on Ukraine. Iceland had decided to run for a seat on the Human Rights Council for the term 2025-2027. If elected, Iceland would be absolutely resolute in its support for the Council´s mandate and would not shy away from calling on all and any of the members of this Council to live up to their human rights obligations and commitments. 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland called on all members of the Council to resist the push back against democratic norms. Autocratic pressures and voices were on the rise, seeking to intensify political polarisation and infringe on fundamental human rights. These trends had been exacerbated by the pandemic, as too many governments had used COVID-19 as an excuse to weaken the pillars of democratic societies. She regretted how easily such rights had been curbed without adequate public debate. The international rules-based order provided a platform for States to operate in peace and prosperity, and as such, support for this system must be resolute. She reiterated the importance of ensuring gender rights in all countries.

NIKOS DENDIAS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, said unilateral actions affected countries, but first and foremost people. The military attacks in Ukraine fundamentally affected the situation of human rights in that country. What was happening had plunged Europe into an era where such actions had no place. International humanitarian law had been affected. Attacks on civilians must cease immediately. Greece was ready to contribute to all efforts for de-escalation in regional and international fora, with the aim of avoiding a humanitarian disaster.

Action must be taken to protect the rights of involuntary migrants. The United Nations and the Human Rights Council had a mandate to protect and promote human rights. Thousands were losing their lives across the globe every day due to conflict, and many more from COVID-19. The welfare of every human being and the protection of the right to life was the heart of the social conscience. It was owed to next generations to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, and the Human Rights Council could play a pivotal role in this regard. Combatting discrimination and alleviating social inequalities and biases were a must in the policies of Greece. Despite the unfavourable environment of misleading information and unfounded allegations, efforts had to continue, as they were in Greece, to protect and promote democratic institutions. Greece would continue to engage with all partners in protecting and promoting human rights.

NANAIA MAHUTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a clear act of aggression; a blatant breach of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity; and a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter by a Permanent Member of the Security Council. There was no victor in unjustified and unprovoked aggression. The Russian Government had repeatedly ignored opportunities for diplomacy, negotiation and de-escalation, and had instead chosen aggression. Russia's actions would have far-reaching and serious humanitarian, security and economic implications for Ukraine, Russia, Europe, and the rest of the world.

Armed conflicts, including in Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen, continued to cause egregious human rights abuses and humanitarian crises. Democratic rights, such as freedom of expression and media freedoms, were being eroded. The hard-won rights of women and girls had tragically gone backwards over the past year - most notably in Afghanistan. China should grant meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for United Nations experts, and other independent observers. Human rights embodied universal values. But these values were at risk if the international community did not accept the collective responsibility to protect and uphold the dignity of all people, individually and collectively, irrespective of the context or situation in which they lived. The Council must be a forum for all States to engage openly on human rights, to share experiences and progress, and to hold each other to account.

MÉLANIE JOLY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said the Human Rights Council was created as a milestone in a shared effort to improve the state of human rights; a long quest whose origin dated back to the start of human civilization itself, a quest which had been recently marked by a new war. The capital of a sovereign and equal Member State was under direct threats, with heart-breaking images of it flashing collective screens. This invasion and war were the choice of one country, the Russian Federation, its government and leadership, and in particular the decision of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. It was a cold, calculated and carefully planned series of events by the Kremlin. Russia was trying to justify the war by spreading a false rhetoric and attempting to manipulate the principles of human rights to support their illegal and illegitimate violence. Human rights were universal and could not be manipulated to justify wars and crimes. The Russian regime was challenging the international system of peace and law, and the very Charter that the international community had been building since the end of the Second World War.

All States were equal and sovereign, and human rights were essential to human dignity, said Ms. Joly. Rules were indispensable since they prevented abuses of power and corruption. This invasion endangered the lives of millions of people, and as such, Canada stood by Ukraine and Ukrainians, calling on Russia to respect the rights not only of Ukrainians but also of its own citizens. Russia's invasion of Ukraine made the work of protecting human rights even more urgent. "We continue to call on Russia to cease its attack immediately, Ukrainian sovereignty must be respected", she concluded.

CÉSAR LANDA ARROYO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, reaffirmed Peru's unwavering commitment to an ethical vision of international relations. Tragic events in Ukraine had been the focus of the entire international community over the past few days. The Russian attack had violated the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Peru called for the cessation of hostilities, including immediate negotiations towards a peaceful situation. Every day they waited would make the situation for civilians more difficult. Access to humanitarian aid was essential to help those who were most in need and in vulnerable situations. Resolution 6/251 of the General Assembly stipulated that those members elected to the Council had to apply the strictest standards when it came to human rights and cooperate with the Council. Peru echoed the High Commissioner's call to fully respect international humanitarian law, as well as human rights law, including respect of proportionality as well as protection of civilians and their assets. These principles reflected Peru's commitment towards multiculturalism.

The pandemic had uncovered shortages of international cooperation and solidarity. Peru was convinced of a need to build an effective democracy that could improve the quality of life of people and address the challenges all faced. The human rights approach had to be bolstered, including respect for the rule of law. Since its creation, Peru had made a steady commitment towards building its institutions. Peru hoped to be a member of the Council in the period 2024-2026.

ABDELLATIF OUAHBI, Minister of Justice of Morocco, said Morocco supported the territorial integrity of all Member States of the United Nations, and adhered to the non-use of force to settle disputes between States, encouraging all initiatives and measures towards promoting the peaceful settlement of such issues. COVID-19 had brought forward some issues, particularly economic and social rights, which needed to be dealt with credibly. The countries of the South had faced a clear and persistent violation of the right to health, which was a basic principle. As well as the threat to economic and social rights, there was a need to intensify international peace and security, including access to vaccines. Morocco had adopted a holistic approach to confront the consequences of the pandemic.

Morocco was committed to the democratic choice and had organized elections in which all persons had a large presence. This had allowed for a consolidation of many rights. Morocco had moved towards protecting the social pillars for all. The issue of women had emerged as one of the greatest challenges, both for civil society and the State alike, and Morocco was dealing with the situation in great seriousness. The Kingdom was open to dialogue with all United Nations mechanisms and organizations, in line with its democratic rights. Morocco reaffirmed its commitment to continuous efforts to achieve international peace and security as the greatest threats to human rights, and to continue its cooperation with friendly countries in promoting the values of friendship and tolerance, as well as African values.

DOMINIQUE HASLER, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and Sport of Liechtenstein, wished the Council had gathered in less sinister circumstances, as the international order was being violated in an unprecedented manner that affected the interest of anyone committed to the United Nations Charter. Concerning Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Liechtenstein unequivocally supported the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine as this military operation was "a repeated act of aggression on Ukraine but also an attack on all of us". For Liechtenstein, the respect for sovereignty and international law was of vital importance, thus it considered this crime of aggression as an attack against Liechtenstein and the values it stood for.

Referring to other humanitarian crisis, the Minister expressed concerns regarding the crisis in Afghanistan, notably the violation of women and girls' human rights, including the right to education. She regretted the dramatic deterioration of an already precarious situation of human rights. Liechtenstein continued to be concerned by the situation in Syria where civilians had been victims of a conflict that had been ongoing for more than a decade. The Minister called for justice for the countless atrocities committed and still ongoing and expressed her full support to the impartial Council's mechanisms on Syria. Liechtenstein recognised European States holding trials for those who had committed serious crimes. Ms. Joly further expressed deep worries about the situation in Myanmar and the unconstitutional military coup which happened a year ago, noting that the human rights situation of the country had deteriorated rapidly. The military authorities continue their abuse of civilians, with hundreds fleeing from the violence as a part of a systematic attack on the population.

SHIREEN MAZARI, Federal Minister for Human Rights of Pakistan, said that despite global treaties and international law, powerful States had for decades continued systematic abuses. Woman and children in Kashmir continued to be victims. The world had faced vaccine nationalism during the pandemic. The realisation of basic rights and recovery from the pandemic had to be ensured. The Council had to step up and respond to halted progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Measures that Pakistan had taken to improve human rights protection nationally were outlined, including adoption of the National Action Plan on business and human rights that was launched after extensive consultations with stakeholders. Pakistan was advancing the safety of journalists and had established new mechanisms to reduce inequalities, eradicate poverty and empower women and girls.

Concerning the deteriorating human rights situation in Kashmir, the Indian occupation machinery had been intensified, changing the demographic situation. India had legalised its permanent illegal settlements, breaching the Fourth Geneva Convention. India was converting the Kashmiri majority into a minority, denying them of their right to self-determination. The Indian regime first tried to demonise Kashmiri residents by labelling them as terrorists. India was pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing, using summary executions, torture, destruction of civilian infrastructure and use of rape as a form of collective punishment. These were just some examples of India's State-led terrorism.

ANN LINDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said in these challenging times, universal human rights supported by a rule-based international order and a strong human rights-based perspective were more important. A new dark chapter in European history had begun, with a full-scale war in Europe, a flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter and the international global order. Sweden strongly condemned the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, which was unprovoked, illegal and indefensible, with no justification. Russia bore full responsibility for this action and the loss of life. It also condemned the involvement of Belarus in the aggression. Sweden stood in full solidarity with Ukraine and its people, who were fighting to preserve their independence and democracy. Russia should withdraw all people and equipment immediately and respect the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The respect for international law, including human rights and international humanitarian law, had continuously deteriorated, with an immense impact on the civilian population. The urgent debate on the situation in Ukraine was welcomed. Today, human rights were under increasing pressure in many parts of the world. By promoting international cooperation and developing the normative framework, progress could be made. Members of the Council themselves needed to meet all international standards. Human rights defenders should be allowed to carry out their work without fear of reprisals and in full independence. Time and again, democracy had proved to be the superior form of government, allowing for debate, free speech, the rule of law, and legislation protecting human rights, providing the ability to face the challenges posed by authoritarianism. Human rights were universal and should be enjoyed by all, irrespective of background, religious or gender identity.

KAZEM GHARIB ABADI, Deputy Judiciary for International Affairs and Secretary-General of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, said the principal policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran relied on protecting and promoting human rights for all members of society. The Western sanctions imposed on Iran were a crime perpetrated against the population of Iran. In addition to these sanctions, Iran was facing terrorism by operatives of the Mujahideen organization. These had operational centres in Europe and the United States. Countries that supported this group had the blood of thousands of civilians on their hands. The United Nations must prevent the free movement of those responsible for sheltering these groups.

Iran condemned the assassination of General Suleimani, who had championed the fight against terrorism in the region. The Iranian State was determined to hold accountable those who had committed his murder. Iran also wanted to investigate the United States-backed murder of five Iranian nuclear scientists by the Zionist regime of Israel. Mr. Abadi asked all members of the Council to resist the politicisation of the Human Rights Council. He reminded the Council that the people of Palestine continued to be let down by the international community and called for agenda item 7 to be preserved until the people of Palestine were free. He regretted the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen and called for the lifting of the economic siege on that country. Protecting human rights required the end of the politicisation of the work of the United Nations, which should operate on the basis of non-interference in the domestic affairs of others. Iran remained committed to continue its interaction with the United Nations.

FARUK KAYMAKCI, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director for European Union Affairs of Turkey, said that the Russian violation of international law in Ukraine was unacceptable. Turkey respected Ukrainian territorial integrity, including Crimea. Turkey respected the right of Crimean Tatars to live freely and safely in their homeland. Negative trends in the rise of xenophobia and religious intolerance had been observed. Earlier this month 19 migrants were found frozen to death, as a result of the pushback policy of Greece. Since 2020, nearly 35,000 migrants had been saved from the pushbacks. Greece and the European Union were urged to respect the right to life.

Mr. Kaymakci said terrorism remained one of the biggest challenges to the right of life. Syria offered a picture of what happened when the international community could not come together. The Syrian regime refused to agree to a political solution and to engage with the United Nations facilitated political process. Turkey hosted 3.7 million migrants and offered the only hub for the United Nations humanitarian aid to Syria. In Afghanistan, human rights remained under threat. In order for the Taliban to start respecting human rights, especially the rights of women, there was a necessity for gradual engagement with them and there was now an increased understanding about this in the international community. In Ethiopia, Turkey was working hard on finding a peaceful solution and was engaging with all stakeholders to ensure the flow of humanitarian aid to Tigray. Thanks to Turkish efforts, there was a substantive chance to achieve peace in South Caucasus.

PEKKA HAAVISTO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, said Finland stood with Ukraine. Russia had brought war into Europe - a flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of the Human Rights Council. There was no justification for this, nor for the violations committed over the last eight years. Finland strongly condemned the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by Russia. The international community's commitment to protecting and promoting human rights was at stake. People across the globe needed the determination of the Council more than ever. The Council should live up to its important mandate.

Recently, the Council had shown leadership on the situation in Afghanistan and on the environment. Women and girls deserved full attention: all women, including indigenous as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons. One in three women worldwide experienced violence, a devastating impact on the victim and her rights, and with devastating societal implications. The Human Rights Council could make a difference in this regard. An open debate culture was vital: human rights defenders must be able to work freely without fear of reprisals. There was concern for the developments in many countries. The crackdown on civil society in countries such as Belarus and Russia was of concern. Human rights activists required courage in the midst of this. Everyone needed to contribute to the work against racism. Finland would continue to work to keep human rights at the forefront.

MENARDO I. GUEVARRA, Secretary of Justice of the Philippines, re-affirmed that constructive engagement had helped promote the peace of communities and the safety of peoples within the Philippines. The review panel recently formed under the Philippines Department of Justice was preparing to investigate 250 cases that had resulted in death, as part of the Government's operations in Luzon. Fifteen special investigations teams had been looking into cases of extrajudicial killings, and prosecutions were underway against a number of law enforcement officials who had violated civil society actors. The Government of the Philippines had been reviewing its work alongside the United Nations and partner governments, and in accordance with the 1991 Minnesota Protocol on Investigations into Unlawful Deaths.

In addition to the establishment of technical working groups, the Government of the Philippines had invited two Special Rapporteurs to investigate matters of the sale of children, and of breaches of freedom of expression. Mr. Guevarra reminded that a change in administration would take place by 30 June 2022, but the Philippines' commitment to human rights and the rule of law and accountability would continue. Furthermore, the Philippines assured the international community of its commitment to build on the advances that had already been made in the field of human rights