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Statement at the Arria-formula Meeting on Ukraine organised by Russia

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has already caused unimaginable human suffering. As we have moved from measuring its duration in weeks to months, we are also left with no doubt that the death toll will continue to mount. 

From the moment its troops crossed the Ukrainian border, Russia’s invasion has been and continues to be in violation of international law.

We have seen a complete disregard for the UN Charter, down to its most basic principles, seeking to undermine the international legal order.

We have seen the Geneva Conventions and their first Additional Protocol, foundational instruments of international humanitarian law, flouted by Russian armed forces, from attacks on nuclear power plants to the shelling of homes, hospitals, kindergartens and train stations. Russian forces appear clearly to have violated the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in attack. We continue to hear reports of the deliberate killing of civilians in summary executions, and the use of torture and rape by the Russian military, all of which can constitute war crimes.

In the face of this disrespect for international law, there have been unprecedented calls for accountability for crimes committed in the wake of Russia’s invasion. These calls have been matched by the international community’s swift action, including the establishment of the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry, the investigation of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, documentation by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, and reporting by the OSCE Moscow Mechanism’s mission of experts. Russia’s constant criticism and refusal to engage with these bodies speaks volumes on how little it values achieving accountability in Ukraine.

Accountability requires us to get to the truth and, in order for this to happen, independent international investigators require safe and unhindered access to all affected areas in Ukraine, as well as access to information. Evidence needs to be preserved in order to ensure that there will be no impunity.

Ultimately, individual criminal responsibility for war crimes committed in Ukraine must be determined by a fair trial before a court or tribunal, in full compliance with international rules and laws. Russia’s tactics of subversion and disinformation will not deter us in our support for justice for Ukraine and its people.

In conclusion, as the Secretary-General has said about the war in Ukraine, and I quote: “… something that is unfortunately, always true: civilians always pay the highest price”. End of quote. And to Russia we say, there is one very simple way to halt this suffering: stop this unjustifiable war.

Thank you, Chair.

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