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Statements Special Procedures

UN experts urge international community to step up efforts to forge peace between Russia and Ukraine

23 February 2024

GENEVA (23 February 2024) UN experts* today called for greater efforts by the international community to end Russia’s war against Ukraine in line with the UN Charter and find a path of peace without delay. They issued the following statement to mark two years since the Russian full-scale invasion:

“The lives of millions of civilians continue to be at stake. They are children, women and men who must always be treated with humanity and respect for their dignity. For them, peace is neither an empty word nor an abstract concept. It is the essential precondition for restoring normality to everyday life.

There is no normality when people are killed, tortured, forcibly disappeared, sexually assaulted, displaced, deported, arbitrarily detained, or exposed to toxic or radiological substances. There is no normality when people are in fear of constant shelling and when air raid sirens sound every day, day and night, forcing people to escape to shelters. Life is disrupted when people cannot live in their homes, use hospitals, schools and roads, or enjoy cultural heritage, because these places are under attack or destroyed. Survival is at stake when farmers are not able to work their lands because they are contaminated by landmines and explosives.

War is savagery and brutality, everywhere and in all circumstances. It affects everyone, and especially those with fragilities and vulnerabilities, such as the young and older persons.

As time passes without any prospect of peace, the trauma of war entrenches and will lead to even more suffering and devastation.

We want peace to be established without delay. War and aggression violate the basic principles of coexistence between peoples and nations, human rights and the UN Charter.

We stand ready to support all efforts of the international community aimed at achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine consistent with the principles of the UN Charter and ensuring the protection of human rights for all. Rehabilitation, recovery and redress for victims and survivors must be provided, and the rights of minorities respected.

All perpetrators, including those exercising superior authority, must be held accountable for war crimes and other atrocities which are alleged to have been committed on a large-scale. The missing and disappeared must be found, prisoners of war and others arbitrarily deprived of liberty released, and the forcibly deported, including Ukrainian children, returned home. These are necessary for peace, reconciliation and justice.

To date, Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine has caused over 10,000 civilian deaths, an estimated 20,000 civilian injuries and an undisclosed number of combatant casualties. Some 18 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance – almost 40 percent of Ukraine’s population. This includes over three million people living in frontline communities who face severe shortages of resources and constant bombardment. While millions of people remain internally displaced in Ukraine, some 6 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have sought refuge abroad, which was one of the fastest and largest refugee exoduses in history and they currently make up the third largest refugee population in the world.

The impact of this war continues to be felt beyond Ukraine’s borders, as businesses and supply chains have been disrupted and prices of food, energy, fertiliser and other essential commodities have soared around the world, fuelling a severe global cost of living crisis.”

Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Nicolas Levrat, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Cecilia M. Bailliet, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Marcos A. Orellana, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, Haina Lu, and Laura Nyirinkindi, Working group on discrimination against women and girls; Robert McCorquodale (Chair-Rapporteur), Fernanda Hopenhaym (Vice-Chair), Pichamon Yeophantong, Damilola Olawuyi, Elzbieta Karska, Working Group on business and human rights; Fabián Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Aua Baldé (Chair-Rapporteur), Gabriella Citroni (Vice-Chair), Angkhana Neelapaijit, Grażyna Baranowska, Ana Lorena Delgadillo Perez, Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; Ashwini K.P., Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Barbara G. Reynolds (Chair), Dominique Day, Catherine Namakula, Miriam Ekiudoko, Bina D’Costa, Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Ms. Priya Gopalan (Chair-Rapporteur), Mr. Matthew Gillett (Vice-Chair on Communications), Ms. Ganna Yudkivska (Vice-Chair on Follow-Up), and Mr. Mumba Malila, Working Group on arbitrary detention; Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Heba Hagrass, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and 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 of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Ukraine; Russian Federation

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