New York, USA, 24 January 2015
The Secretary-General strongly condemns today`s rocket attack on the city of Mariupol, which reportedly killed dozens of civilians and left over one hundred injured. He notes that rockets appear to have been launched indiscriminately into civilian areas, which would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.
The Secretary-General further denounces yesterday`s unilateral withdrawal from the cease-fire by rebel leadership, and particularly their provocative statements about claiming further territory. This constitutes a violation of their commitments under the Minsk accords.
The Secretary-General urges all concerned to redouble their efforts to revive the Minsk accords. Ukraine`s peace, territorial integrity and stability, intrinsically linked to that of the broader region, must be urgently restored.
Press briefing notes on Ukraine
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Date: 23 January 2015
More than 5,000 people have now been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine in mid-April last year. The significant escalation of hostilities in Ukraine since 13 January has taken the total death toll in the country to at least 5,086 – and we fear that the real figure may be considerably higher. At least 10,948 people have also been wounded between mid-April last year and 21 January 2015.*
In just nine days, between 13 and 21 January, at least 262 people were killed due to the hostilities. That is an average of at least 29 people killed per day. This has been the most deadly period since the declaration of a ceasefire on 5 September.
In addition to the intense fighting and shelling in the Donetsk region, particularly around the airport where tanks and heavy artillery have reportedly been used by both sides, shelling has also been reported in several towns of Luhansk region. The killing of civilians when an artillery shell hit a bus stopping for passengers in the Leninskyi district of Donetsk yesterday has brought into stark focus the impact of the ongoing hostilities on civilians. This was the second bus to have been struck, with significant casualties, in the last 10 days.
We are concerned about the lack of implementation of the 12 provisions of the Minsk Protocol and the continuing presence of foreign fighters in the east, allegedly including servicemen from the Russian Federation, as well as the presence of heavy and sophisticated weaponry in populated areas under the control of armed groups. Civilians held or trapped in these areas are subject to a total lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law. We remind all parties to the conflict that international humanitarian law prohibits the targeting of civilians and requires that all necessary measures be taken to ensure the safety and protection of civilians, and that the principles of military necessity, distinction, proportionality and precaution be strictly respected.
We are also concerned about the impact on civilians of the recent decision by the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine to restrict movement in and out of the areas controlled by armed groups. As of 21 January, people travelling to and from these areas need to obtain special passes and provide documents to justify the need to travel. These limitations are worrying, especially in light of the escalating hostilities. It adds to concerns created by the Government decision in November 2014 to discontinue providing State services in the territories controlled by armed groups. The introduction of such restrictions will likely have a severe effect on the most vulnerable groups, such as older people, mothers with children and people with disabilities who may depend heavily on social benefits. We urge Ukrainian authorities to take immediate steps to redress this situation.
* The casualty figure is a conservative estimate of the HRMU and WHO based on available official data: casualties of the Ukrainian armed forces as reported by the Ukrainian authorities; 298 people from flight MH-17; and casualties reported by civil medical establishments of Donetsk and Luhansk regions: civilians and some members of the armed groups. HRMU and WHO believe that the actual numbers of fatalities are considerably higher.
Security Council Press Statement on the killing of ICRC staff member in Ukraine
3 October 2014 - The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the killing of a staff member of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), Mr. Laurent DuPasquier, in Donetsk, Ukraine, on 2 October 2014 as a result of a shell landing near the ICRC premises.
The members of the Security Council expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the family of Mr. DuPasquier as well as to the ICRC and the people and Government of Switzerland.
The members of the Security Council stressed the need to conduct an objective and thorough investigation into this tragic death.
Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Ukraine
2 October 2014 - The Secretary-General is saddened and disturbed to learn of the death of an international humanitarian aid worker as a result of a shell landing near the International Committee of the Red Cross Headquarters in eastern Ukraine today. This follows the appalling shelling of a school in eastern Ukraine yesterday which resulted in the death of a number of civilians.
The Secretary-General is seriously concerned over the dangerous surge in fighting in recent days and mounting civilian casualties. These recent, tragic incidents underscore the fragility of the current cease-fire and the importance of ensuring a secure environment in south-eastern Ukraine that will allow humanitarian actors to carry out their work and deliver critical assistance to those most in need.
The Secretary-General expects all concerned to strictly adhere to their commitments under the Minsk Memorandum agreed on 19 September in order to ensure a sustainable cease-fire. He reiterates that political and diplomatic efforts must be urgently redoubled toward this end. A return to full-scale fighting could be catastrophic for Ukraine, the region and beyond.
New York, 25 September 2014 - The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine.
During the meeting, they discussed the ongoing conflict in south-eastern Ukraine, including the latest diplomatic and political efforts aimed at a sustainable cease-fire and implementation of a broader peace plan. They exchanged views on the way forward toward a full political settlement of the crisis, as this would be the only way to achieve lasting peace.
The Secretary-General reiterated the UN’s support for and solidarity with the people of Ukraine at this difficult time in the country’s history.
The two leaders discussed the humanitarian situation and also the future of the important United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
New York, 30 July 2014 - Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on impediments to investigation of MH17 downing
The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed to learn that forensic teams and international investigators in Donetsk who are tasked to probe the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 continue to be impeded from accessing the site and carrying out their critical work due to heavy fighting in the area of the crash site.
The Secretary-General recalls that there are victims’ remains yet to be found and that key pieces of evidence remain at the site. The families of the victims of this horrific tragedy deserve closure and the world demands answers - - international teams must be allowed to conduct their work.
Guided by Security Council Resolution 2166, the Secretary-General calls on all parties to immediately halt hostilities in the proximity of the crash site so as to allow the international teams unimpeded access to the site.
27 June 2014 – Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Ukraine
The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned over the situation in eastern Ukraine but he welcomes recent measures toward de-escalation of hostilities, including consultations among all sides and the extension of the reciprocal cease-fire for a further period of three days. The Secretary-General expects all sides to strictly adhere to their commitments and urges concerned parties to work toward a definitive cessation of violence through a political process.
The Secretary-General also welcomes the release of four international OSCE monitors on 26 June. He calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the four monitors still held in captivity.
16 June 2014 –The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the downing of an Ukrainian military airplane
The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the downing of an Ukrainian military airplane today in Lugansk, killing 49 people.
The Secretary-General believes the continuing violence in eastern Ukraine -- characterized by growing loss of life and a deteriorating humanitarian situation -- highlights the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a resolution of the crisis through negotiation and dialogue. He is concerned that recent diplomatic efforts in that direction have not borne fruit and appeals to all sides to implement urgently the 17 April Geneva Agreement, which offered a clear path to a peaceful solution.
The Secretary-General reiterates his support for newly-elected President Poroshenko and the people of Ukraine and stands in solidarity with them during this difficult time. He once again emphasizes everyone must do their part to bring Ukraine back from the brink and ensure its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
28 May 2014 - Readout of Secretary-General`s telephone conversation with Mr. Petro Poroschenko, President-elect of Ukraine
The Secretary-General spoke this morning to Mr. Petro Poroschenko, the President-elect of Ukraine.
The Secretary-General congratulated Mr. Poroschenko on having received a strong mandate from the people, who expect him to move quickly to steer the country away from political, economic and social instability and towards security, greater prosperity and genuine democratic governance.
The Secretary-General said that he was encouraged by Mr. Poroschenko’s commitment to de-escalation and dialogue which will be critical within Ukraine, as well as with its neighbours.
28 April 2014 – Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Ukraine
The Secretary-General strongly condemns the recent capture and detention of OSCE military monitors as well as a number of accompanying Ukrainian staff. He urges those responsible for their abduction to release them immediately, unconditionally and unharmed. The Secretary-General underlines that those who continue unlawful acts will be held accountable for their actions. He appeals to all those with influence to assist in the urgent resolution of this matter.
The Secretary-General stresses that international missions working in Ukraine must be allowed to perform their duties unimpeded.
The Secretary-General urges all parties concerned to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. He also calls on them to find a way back to the spirit of compromise exhibited during the Geneva talks on 17 April. A diplomatic and political solution to this crisis is imperative and long overdue.
24 April 2014 – Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Ukraine
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about continued violence in eastern Ukraine, which has led to loss of life, further instability and which is contributing to a climate of fear and anxiety.
As the stakes are now so high, the Secretary-General is seriously concerned that the situation could quickly spin out of control with consequences we cannot predict. He stresses, in the strongest terms, the necessity for all parties to honour their commitments under the Geneva Statement. Military action must be avoided at all costs. The Secretary-General calls on all sides to immediately refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions and find a way forward toward de-escalation.
22 April 2014 – The UNESCO Director-General visited Ukraine to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the membership of Ukraine and to discuss cooperation between UNESCO and Ukraine and its future prospects.
Irina Bokova met with the Prime Minister, Mr Arseniy Yatseniuk, with whom she discussed the state of cooperation between Ukraine and UNESCO, including in the sphere of safeguarding cultural heritage.
The Director-General met also with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Andriy Deschytsya, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Mr. Danylo Lubkivsky and the Director of Department for Relations with the Ukrainian Diaspora, Cultural and Humanitarian Cooperation, Mr Volodymyr Yatsenkivsky.
Irina Bokova took part in a solemn meeting of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences, chaired by the President of the Academy, Professor Boris Paton and devoted to the 60th anniversary of Ukraine’s membership in UNESCO.
“The partnership between Ukraine and UNESCO draws on deep roots in Ukrainian society," said the Director-General.
“As we move forward,” she continued, “all must remain true to the values and aspirations we share, to build a more effective and rules-based multilateral order, founded – as the UNESCO Constitution states -- on dignity, equality and mutual respect.”
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Ukraine’s membership of UNESCO, the Director-General participated in a special ceremony inaugurating a postage stamp dedicated to the anniversary, with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Mr. Danylo Lubkivsky, the Chair of the National Commission of Ukraine to UNESCO.
UNESCO enjoys fruitful cooperation with the country in various UNESCO priority areas, from Education for All, the Man and the Biosphere Programme to the protection of cultural heritage. In 2014, UNESCO is associated with the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of birth of Taras Shevchenko.
The Director-General was honoured to be awarded by President Boris Paton of the Academy of Sciences the Honourable Medal and Diploma in recognition of "her outstanding contribution to international cooperation in science."
Irina Bokova was also honoured by the award of the Medal in the Name of Taras Shevchenko`s 200th Anniversary, awarded to her on behalf of the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
4 April 2014 – Ukraine: UN human rights expert launches mission to consult with minority communities
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, will carry out her first official visit to Ukraine from 7 to 13 April 2014, to gather first-hand information from minority communities in the country.
“This is a timely opportunity for me, in my capacity as an independent observer, to engage in dialogue with all relevant parties,” Ms. Izsák said. “I intend to consult widely with national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities to hear first-hand their issues and concerns.”
“Recent developments make an impartial assessment of the actual situation on the ground essential,” the Special Rapporteur added.
Ms. Izsák, who visits Ukraine at the invitation of the Government, will meet with a wide variety of Government and non-governmental actors and communities, and will travel to different localities including Kiev, Uzhgorod, Odessa and Donetsk. The Special Rapporteur has requested access to Crimea where she hopes to hold further consultations.
Upon conclusion of her visit to Ukraine, Ms. Izsák will report to the Human Rights Council on her findings and recommendations.
The Special Rapporteur is tasked by the United Nations Human Rights Council to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (Check the Declaration: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx)
28 March 2014 – Ban warns against escalation of crisis in Ukraine
Reiterating his strong call for a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this evening warned the concerned parties – and the wider international community – that “at this time of heightened tensions, even small sparks can ignite larger flames of unintended consequences.”
“What started as a crisis in Ukraine is now also a crisis over Ukraine. From the beginning, my objective has been to seek a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crisis, in keeping with the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter,” Mr. Ban told reporters following his briefing to the Security Council on his recent travels.
The UN chief, on the road since 20 March, paid official visits to the capitals of both Ukraine and Russia, and also attended Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, and visited Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the Ukraine crisis, Mr. Ban said he had “strongly urged the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to de-escalate the situation, avoid hasty actions and immediately engage in direct and constructive dialogue to resolve all the problems.”
Answering a reporter’s question on Russia’s intent to send troops into southern and eastern Ukraine, the Secretary-General said President Vladimir Putin assured him that he had no such intention.
“I have been really trying to urge both parties to de-escalate the situation. Emotions were running high, as you will agree, and tensions have been very highly charged. Therefore, my immediate priority was to urge…the leaders of both [countries] to engage in direct dialogue,” said Mr. Ban.
“Now is the time for dialogue and peace,” he stated, adding that the UN will continue its efforts to find a solution to the Crimean crisis through diplomacy and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, which has been on the ground in the region for nearly two weeks.
Mr. Ban expressed concern over the divisions that this crisis in creating among the international community, fearing it could “harm our ability to address other pressing concerns, conflicts and humanitarian emergencies.”
Citing Ukraine, Syria and the Central African Republic as some of the most important issues in need of resolution, the UN chief said: “I have also urged Members of the Security Council to address these issues as soon as possible, because there are so many, much more longer-term issues like the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development and climate change.”
As for the Nuclear Security Summit, the Secretary-General said that he had joined other world leaders in The Hague in highlighting the need for vigilance regarding the risk of nuclear terrorism. “International cooperation will be crucial not only in avoiding the proliferation of nuclear materials, but also in advancing nuclear disarmament – the best guarantee against this threat,” he declared.
27 March 2014 – Backing Ukraine’s territorial integrity, UN Assembly declares Crimea referendum invalid
In a vote that reaffirmed Ukraine’s unity and territorial integrity, the United Nations General Assembly today adopted a measure underscoring that the mid-March referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia “has no validity” and that the parties should “pursue immediately a peaceful resolution of the situation.”
By a vote of 100 in favour to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the 193-member Assemblycalled on all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the 16 March referendum “and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”
Action in the Assembly follows months of ratcheting tensions in Ukraine triggered by the Government`s decision last November not to sign an agreement on broader European integration. The capital, Kiev, erupted in violent demonstrations and street clashes in late January, culminating in the removal by Parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Tensions continued to mount in the Crimea region, where Russian troops and armoured vehicles were deployed in February and a secession referendum was later held, in which, according to the UN, Crimean authorities announced that close to 97 per cent of those who voted did so in favour of the region joining Russia.
Subsequently, Crimea declared its independence, which in turn was recognized by Russia. In the immediate aftermath of those events, President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, while the Government in Kiev committed to never accept Crimea’s independence or annexation.
Throughout, the UN has continued to press for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and other senior officials having visited the region, including Moscow and Crimea, over the past three weeks.
The UN Security Council convened seven sessions on the situation in Ukraine, and at its eighth meeting, Russia, one of the 15-nation body’s permanent members, blocked action by voting against a draft resolution that would have urged countries not to recognize the results of the referendum in Crimea.
The non-binding text adopted by the Assembly today contained similar language, underscoring that the referendum held in Crimea has no validity and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea or of the city of Sevastopol. It calls on all States to “desist and refrain” from actions aimed at the partial or total disruption of Ukraine’s national unity and territorial integrity, “including any attempts to modify Ukraine’s borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means.”
Finally, the Assembly resolution makes explicit reference to the primacy of the UN Charter’s call for the preservation of the unity and territorial integrity of all UN Member States, and also recalls the 1994 Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russian, and other bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Russia.
21 March 2014 – With tensions high, Ban urges ‘real’ dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow to resolve crisis
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged “real dialogue” between Kyiv and Moscow to peacefully resolve the current crisis, during a visit to the Ukrainian capital following discussions with Russian officials yesterday.
“These are some of the most dramatic and difficult times in the history of Ukraine,” Mr. Ban said during a press encounter in Kyiv. “Tensions are high. Lives have been lost.”
The Secretary-General said he is seriously concerned at both the tense situation within parts of Ukraine as well as between it and Russia, where he met yesterday with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“This current crisis can only be resolved through peaceful diplomatic solutions based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and a determined statesmanlike pursuit of peace and security,” he stated.
“There has to be a real dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow.”
Months of political unrest in Ukraine led to the removal by Parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, followed by increased tensions in the country’s autonomous region of Crimea, where additional Russian military were recently deployed and a secession referendum was held this past Sunday.
Reiterating a message he delivered in Moscow, Mr. Ban said that “at times like these,” it is vital that all parties refrain from any provocative actions that could further exacerbate an already very tense and very volatile situation.
“Inflammatory rhetoric can lead to further tensions and possible miscalculations, as well as dangerous counter-reactions. Intimidation by radical elements has to be firmly prevented. I count on all parties in Ukraine to ensure that this is the case.”
While he conveyed his concerns to Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Mr. Ban also said how encouraged he was to see signs of greater inclusion, especially the desire to re-introduce Russian as one of Ukraine’s official languages. “Inclusiveness is critical to the restoration of stability to your country,” he noted.
While in Kyiv, the Secretary-General also met with the head of the UN human rights monitoring mission that has been deployed in the country, including in the eastern and southern regions.
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic arrived today in Crimea for a two-day visit to lay the groundwork for the monitoring mission to set up a presence in that region.
“As I have said repeatedly, it is critical that the human rights of all people in Ukraine, especially minorities, be respected and protected,” said Mr. Ban. He also told the Acting President that the UN stands ready to assist, along with other organizations, with the upcoming elections, adding that everything must be done to ensure that these elections are transparent, free and fair so that all Ukrainians accept the results.
“The world is watching and history will judge us on how we assume our responsibilities and our actions as they relate to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” stated the UN chief.
19 March 2014 – Statement to Security Council by Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on human rights situation in Ukraine
Distinguished Members of the Council,
Thank you for this opportunity to brief you on my mission to Ukraine. I joined the DSG in Kyiv on 9 March, at the urgent request of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
My mandate was to make an initial assessment of the human rights situation, highlight the critical importance of respect for human rights in working towards the de-escalation of tensions, and to make recommendations on the way forward.
I met with individuals from across the cultural, ethnic, linguistic and political spectrum in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv, including legislative and executive officials, the Ombudsperson, civil society organizations representing various communities including victims of human rights violations, as well as members of regional organizations and the diplomatic community. My team has also collected numerous written materials, including about the situation in Crimea.
I was not able to go to Crimea, as the authorities there initially would not receive the mission, nor ensure its security. Eventually, on Sunday I received an invitation to visit Simferopol. I hope that a visit to Crimea possibly by the Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, Mr. Armen Harutyunyan, will soon take place. I also welcome the request made on 19 March, by the Independent Expert on the Minority issues, to visit Ukraine, and hope that the mission will take place as soon as possible and contribute to decreasing tensions.
Chronic human rights violations were among the major reasons for the upheaval in Ukraine in recent months. For many years there have been concerns about weak rule of law, lack of accountability and resulting impunity. The right to a fair trial, equal access to justice, cases of torture and ill-treatment and poor detention conditions, are all matters of longstanding concern. The lack of independence of the judiciary must be remedied and the reform of the security sector and of the Prosecutor’s Office are also urgent tasks. Corruption is a cross-cutting problem that affects the rule of law as well as equal access to public services, and this also needs to be addressed swiftly.
All reforms and new policy measures must be adopted without any spirit of revenge and in a consultative, transparent and inclusive manner. It is crucial to ensure that one does not respond to human rights violations with other human rights violations. In the context of ongoing legislative measures concerning lustration, these must fully respect human rights and the rule of law, including the right to individual review and to appeal.
Protest related violations
In the context of the recent protests in Kiev and elsewhere, I am deeply concerned about alleged gross human rights violations, including excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings, torture, disappearances and arbitrary arrests and detentions. The actions of snipers on the Maidan are of particularly grave concern and need to be fully investigated. More than 100 people, mostly protesters , but also some members of the security forces have also lost their lives and many more were injured. I visited protest-related victims in hospital. I also spoke to physicians who helped victims in makeshift hospitals, including the current Minister of Health, Mr. Oleh Musiy and Ms. Olga Bogomolets. All of them confirmed that sniper killings of protesters were undertaken in an execution -style aiming for heads and chests.
The perpetrators of these and other human rights violations against all victims must be promptly brought to justice, whatever their background, status or affiliation, following independent, impartial and thorough investigations.
There has been an increase in instances of intolerance and incitement to hatred as well as violence throughout Ukraine. This has been particularly the case between ethnic Ukrainians and Russians, as well as pro-Maidan and anti-Maidan groups. I believe that these incidents further increased after the recent developments in Crimea.
I have urged all authorities I encountered, to ensure inclusivity in governance, and, while ensuring freedom of expression, to curb hate speech. Ukraine is a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-cultural country. Nationalistic rhetoric and policies will be counter-productive and will further deepen the internal dividing lines within society. All views should be expressed freely in a democracy, as long as their expression does not incite to hatred and violence against others. Any attempt at escalation of violence and hatred should be prevented or stopped when it has occurred, before it escalates into further violence. It is incumbent upon all authorities to ensure equal protection for all, especially of minority groups.
The hasty repeal of the Law on Languages by Parliament was a mistake. The decision of Parliament was fortunately not approved by the acting President, so that the old law will continue to be in force while a new text is prepared. This process should be done in full consultation with all concerned, and be fully participatory, transparent and inclusive.
During my visit, I met with a wide range of representatives of civil society, including with representatives of ethnic Russians. There seem to be some cases where members of the Russian minority have been harassed or even attacked, such as in the case of the attack against a member of Parliament. All allegations of human rights violations, in particular against minorities have to be thoroughly investigated. However, it seems that these violations are neither widespread nor systemic.
I have serious concerns about the situation in Crimea, where the situation remains tense with respect to the protection of human rights. I have met with victims of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment, and other human rights violations.
I spoke to representatives of displaced Tatar persons in Lviv, the chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Mr. Refat Chubarov, and Mr. Nadir Bekirov, president of the Foundation for Research and Support of Indigenous Peoples of Crimea and I am deeply concerned about the human rights of those who oppose recent political events in Crimea. It has been reported that a local Crimean Tatar activist who disappeared after participating in a protest on 3 March, was found dead on 16 March in a forest near the town of Belogorsk. According to reports from credible sources his body bore marks that suggest he had been subjected to mistreatment.
In addition to cases of violence, between various political Ukrainian and Russian groups with alleged participation of groups from outside of the region, resulting in recent deaths and injuries, the spreading of rumours, including through the media, particularly in eastern Ukraine, is adding to a sense of insecurity among the population. I understand that this is partly due to rumors and perceptions about whether the new authorities in Kyiv would ensure decentralization policies, an inclusive government and protect and support the use of the Russian language.
UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission
There is an urgent need for independent monitors to objectively assess and report on human rights violations as well as on the implications of recent events and to monitor the current human rights situation throughout the country. An independent, objective establishment of the facts and circumstances surrounding alleged human rights violations can help investigation, can prevent further occurrences and can counter the spread of false information.
We have received a request from the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to dispatch human rights monitors and we have immediately begun their deployment. The team will be composed of 9 international and some 25 national staff. The Head of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission already arrived last week, others are gradually joining him. By Friday, monitors will be in place in Khariv and in Donetsk.
In the roll-out of this mission we will work very closely with the OSCE, which has plans for a larger monitoring mission. Both the DSG and I have maintained close contacts with the OSCE leadership in this regard, and this will be replicated on the ground.
Madam President, Distinguished Members of the Security Council,
The UN stands ready to help ensure human rights are respected and protected in Ukraine - with the support of international and regional organizations, including the OSCE, the Council of Europe and others. In addition to monitoring the human rights situation, the UN can assist by providing technical assistance for legislative and other reforms necessary to ensure that the recommendations received by Ukraine from UN human rights mechanisms are fully implemented so that they can effectively contribute to both peace and development efforts.
17 March 2014 – Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Ukraine
The Secretary-General continues to closely follow the situation in Ukraine. Since the beginning of this crisis, the Secretary-General has urged all parties to avoid hasty steps in this already complex and tense situation.
The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed and concerned that the Crimea referendum will only exacerbate this situation.
He encourages all parties to work for a solution that is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respecting Ukraine`s unity and sovereignty.
He condemns the violence which occurred over the weekend in Eastern Ukraine and which resulted in injuries and loss of life on all sides. The Secretary-General once again urges all parties to refrain from violence and to commit themselves to de-escalation and inclusive national dialogue in the pursuit of a political and diplomatic solution. A deterioration of the situation will have serious repercussions for the people of Ukraine, the region and beyond.
He urges all parties in Ukraine and those with influence to avoid any steps that could further increase tensions.
Above all, the Secretary-General urges all concerned to intensify their efforts and engage constructively toward a peaceful solution to this crisis, with the aspirations of all the people of Ukraine foremost in mind. The Secretary-General remains ready to work with all parties to resolve this situation.
14 March 2014 – Ukraine – UN human rights monitors deployed to assess recent and ongoing violations
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović on Friday announced the immediate deployment of a UN human rights monitoring team throughout Ukraine to help establish the facts surrounding human rights violations, including in Crimea, and serve to de-escalate tensions in the country.
“What became clear very quickly during our discussions in Ukraine was the preponderance of competing narratives about what exactly has transpired in the country since November last year,” Šimonović told a press conference in Kiev on the ninth day of his mission to the country.
“Without an independent, objective establishment of the facts and circumstances surrounding alleged human rights violations, there is a serious risk that these competing narratives could be manipulated for political ends, leading to divisiveness and incitement to hatred. The UN team, as an impartial player, will serve to establish the facts, thus helping prevent such manipulation and de-escalate tensions.”
Šimonović, the UN’s most senior human rights official in New York, said that chronic human rights violations were clearly among the major reasons for the unrest in Ukraine in recent months.
“Warning signs about systemic human rights violations were neglected for many years, including the concerns and recommendations of international human rights bodies,” he said. “There are serious concerns about the weakness of rule of law institutions, lack of accountability and ensuing impunity for human rights violations. Reports of torture and ill-treatment are also numerous.”
In the context of the recent protests in Kiev and elsewhere, Šimonović expressed deep concern about allegations of gross violations, such as excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings, including by snipers, torture, disappearances and arbitrary detentions.
“I have personally met with one victim of a brutal beating whose scars, both physical and mental, were clearly visible,” he said. “The perpetrators of human rights violations against that individual and all other victims must be promptly brought to justice, whatever their background, status or affiliation, following independent, impartial and thorough investigations.”
Šimonović stressed that accountability was of utmost importance, not only for the victims of violations but also to restore the faith of the whole of Ukrainian society in its Government and institutions.
“I stress here that the call is for accountability and not retribution,” he said. “All reforms and new policy measures must be taken through a rule of law and human rights approach without any spirit of revenge. It is crucial to ensure that one does not respond to human rights violations with other human rights violations.”
Šimonović said he was encouraged by indications from high-level officials of a willingness to break with past injustices and elaborate a new vision based on the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
The team of human rights officers from the UN Human Rights Office, led by Šimonović, was unable to visit Crimea as the authorities stated that they would not receive the mission nor ensure its security. However, Šimonović said that denial of access did not prevent the team from assessing the human rights situation in Crimea. The team had access to several reliable sources and extensive one-on-one discussions with individuals who are in and from Crimea.
“I am gravely concerned about the situation in Crimea, where there appears to be no rule of law at present, and therefore a drastic deterioration in the protection of human rights, as well as rampant fear and insecurity due to misinformation, blocking of information and total uncertainty about what is coming next,” he said.
Šimonović highlighted the cases of several activists who are unaccounted for, including Andrey Shchekun, Anatoliy Koval`skiy and his son Sergey Koval`skiy, Mr. Taneev and Mikhail Vdovchenko.
“I have also met with activists and journalists who were stopped at paramilitary check points, detained between 9 and 11 March, interrogated, beaten, robbed of their equipment, harassed, humiliated and subject to mock executions, allegedly by a Berkut unit officer,” he said.
“I have been informed about cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment, and other human rights violations committed by members of unidentified armed groups. Paramilitary forces must be disarmed and the rule of law must be re-established in Crimea by those who have the power to do so.”
Šimonović noted that the situation of minorities and indigenous peoples in Crimea, in particular the Crimean Tatars, was very vulnerable. He stressed that the human rights of all must be respected throughout Ukraine, including in Crimea, particularly the right of all to participate in public affairs and political life without discrimination.
At the request of the UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Šimonović has extended his mission and will remain in Ukraine until Tuesday, 18 March 2014.
To read the full statement delivered by Ivan Šimonović at the press conference in Kiev, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14371&LangID=E
11 March 2014 – UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights travels to Kharkiv
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović is in Kharkiv today (Tuesday), meeting local authorities to discuss human rights-related measures that can be taken to help de-escalate tensions in the country. He is also raising with the authorities the allegations regarding human rights violations, and meeting with a range of pro-Russian as well as pro-Ukrainian civil society representatives.
Mr. Šimonović is in Ukraine to stress the paramount importance of ensuring respect for international human rights laws and standards during these difficult times. He is assessing the human rights situation in the region, calling for respect for human rights and discussing options for the UN and international partners to assist in strengthening capacity on the ground where necessary.
Mr. Šimonović has met the Acting Foreign Minister, the Ombudsperson, human rights defenders, the diplomatic community and the various UN agencies working in Kiev. He is due to hold further high-level meetings in Kiev on Friday.
The Assistant Secretary-General plans to travel to Crimea tomorrow (Wednesday) and Lviv (Thursday) and will hold a press conference at 12pm on Friday, 14 March 2014, in Kiev.
10 March 2014 – Ban Ki-moon is increasingly alarmed by the developments in Ukraine
I am increasingly alarmed by the developments in Ukraine. Since the beginning of this crisis, I have appealed to all parties to de-escalate tensions and to engage in direct and constructive dialogue in order to forge a peaceful way forward.
Recent events in Crimea in particular have only served to deepen the crisis. As tensions and mistrust are growing, I urge all sides to refrain from hasty actions and provocative rhetoric.
The international community must help the key actors to calm the situation and work toward a durable and fair political solution. A further deterioration of the situation would have serious repercussions for the people of Ukraine, the region and the global community.
I also continue to urge the relevant authorities to ensure that the human rights of all in Ukraine are respected, with particular attention to the rights and protection of minorities.
At this crucial juncture, we cannot afford either miscalculations or inaction. Above all, a resolution of the crisis must be found on the basis of United Nations Charter principles, including the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
10 March 2014 – World Bank Group Statement on Ukraine
The World Bank Group has received a request for support from the interim Ukrainian government and stands ready to continue supporting the Ukrainian people. The World Bank Group aims to support reforms and provide up to US$3 billion in 2014.
“We are committed to supporting the people of Ukraine in these difficult times and very much hope that the situation in the country stabilizes soon,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We are moving forward with our pipeline of projects and aim to support the government to undertake the reforms badly needed to put the economy on a path to sustainability.”
As the country`s long-term development partner, the World Bank Group has been implementing an on-going investment and guarantee program of about US$3.7 billion, supporting improved basic public service delivery in areas such as water supply, sanitation, power and roads, and supporting the private sector.
Ukraine’s economy is facing a number of serious challenges that will require urgent action in the short term as well as sustained reform over the medium and longer term. Priorities will need to be given to restoring macroeconomic stability, strengthening the banking sector, reforming the energy sector, seriously tackling corruption and improving accountability, enhancing the investment climate and better targeting social assistance towards the poor and the vulnerable. The World Bank Group stands ready to assist the government with formulating and implementing a comprehensive program of structural reforms to address these challenges.
7 March 2014 – Proposed Crimea referendum ‘worrying and serious’ development
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today emphasized the need for peace and stability in Ukraine’s Crimea region, where the announcement of a referendum on joining Russia constitutes a “worrying and serious” development.
Lawmakers in the autonomous Ukrainian region of Crimea voted yesterday to join Russia and to hold a referendum on 16 March to validate the decision. The move comes amid rising tensions in the region, where additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles have recently been deployed, and against the backdrop of the protests and violence that have plagued Ukraine since last November.
“The recent announcement by the authorities in Crimea that they intend to hold a referendum is a worrying and serious development,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York. “In this regard, the Secretary-General urges the authorities in Ukraine, including in Crimea, to treat this matter with calm.”
Mr. Nesirky said it should be noted that referendums usually have clear rules on national constitutional law that should be looked into “carefully and dispassionately.”
“All concerned should think about the implications of any hasty actions or decisions taken in the heat of the moment. The Secretary-General cannot emphasize enough the need for peace and stability in the region,” he added.
Mr. Nesirky also said that the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisor, Robert Serry, is continuing his consultations with Ukrainian and diplomatic interlocutors in Kiev today, before leaving the country tomorrow. He will then return to Jerusalem next week, where he is based as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
“At this stage, it is not yet known when he will return to Ukraine,” the spokesperson stated. “But he will continue to assist the Secretary-General, as required, in his good offices to promote urgently needed de-escalation and a peaceful political resolution of the country’s current crisis.”
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic has arrived in Ukraine to conduct a preliminary assessment of the human rights situation following recent developments.
He will “seek to identify existing and potential human rights challenges and to advocate for the protection of human rights, including those of minorities, as well as for accountability for recent human rights violations,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told anews conferencein Geneva.
During his eight-day visit, Mr. SŠimonovic plans to meet authorities in the capital, Kiev, as well as in Lviv, Kharkiv and Simferopol, as well as the Ombudsman, and civil society organisations at central and regional levels.
He will also liaise with regional organizations active in Ukraine, especially the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Council of Europe.
Mr. Šimonovic, who is based in New York, will be joined by a team of five other OHCHR staff from Geneva over the weekend in addition to the two staff already on the ground. He is expected to present a report with recommendations for follow-up actions to the High Commissioner upon his return.
7 March 2014 – UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights conducts a preliminary assessment of the human rights situation in Ukraine
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović arrived in Ukraine late Thursday evening to conduct a preliminary assessment of the human rights situation following developments in the country since November 2013. He will be joined by a team of five other staff from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva over the weekend in addition to the two human rights staff already in Kiev.
During his eight-day visit, Mr. Šimonović plans to meet authorities and State officials in Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Simferopol, as well as the Ombudsman, and civil society organisations at central and regional levels. Mr Šimonović will also liaise with regional organizations active in Ukraine, especially the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Council of Europe.
Mr. Šimonović, OHCHR’s most senior human rights official in New York, will seek to identify existing and potential human rights challenges and to advocate for the protection of human rights, including those of minorities, as well as for accountability for recent human rights violations. Mr Šimonović will present a report with recommendations for follow-up action to the High Commissioner upon his return.
He will address the media on 14 March 2014. Further details will be available closer to the date
6 March 2014 – Ukraine `a country on edge,` says UN deputy chief, urging dialogue among all parties
Describing strife-torn Ukraine as “a country on edge”, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today called for an end to the “provocative rhetoric” that was stoking tensions there, and stressed the readiness of the United Nations to facilitate meaningful dialogue among all the key parties to help ease the crisis.
“While the situation in Kiev is stable, there have been disturbing reports from some parts of the country, primarily Crimea,” Mr. Eliasson said, briefing the Security Council by video from Kiev, where he has been since Monday after having been sent by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on an urgent mission to de-escalate a dangerous situation in Ukraine and assess conditions for a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Following months of political unrest, triggered by the Government`s decision last November not to sign an agreement on broader European integration, Kiev erupted in violent demonstrations and street clashes in late January, culminating with the removal by Parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych. Tensions have been mounting in the Crimea region, where additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles have reportedly been deployed.
According to a note to correspondents issued this evening by a UN spokesperson in New York, Mr. Eliasson said Ukraine is “grappling with a series of fast-moving and serious challenges.” In Crimea, he cited examples such as blockades of Ukrainian military bases by armed elements with no insignias and attempts to intimidate international envoys, including the Secretary-General`s Special Advisor, Robert Serry, who was threatened yesterday by a number of unidentified men that demanded he leave the region.
Mr. Eliasson said that in all of his meetings in Ukraine, he had underlined the urgent need for de-escalation and for a political solution to the country`s current crisis. Apart from a military de-escalation, he said that there is a need to end provocative rhetoric that has only served to heighten tensions.
According to the note, he had called for meaningful dialogue among all key parties, and stressed that the UN remains ready to do its part to facilitate such dialogue. He emphasized that the Organization`s efforts are rooted in the UN Charter, in particular the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity and of the peaceful settlement of disputes. He also underlined the importance of adhering to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As for his meetings, Mr. Eliasson said that he held talks with Ukrainian authorities, including the Acting President, the Prime Minister and the Acting Foreign Minister. He also met with civil society representatives, including Orthodox Church leaders, as well as members of the diplomatic community.
Mr. Eliasson emphasized the need for unity, diversity and inclusion in Ukraine, and the importance that all parts of the country and all segments of the population have a sense of participation in building their future. He also noted that the Secretary-General remains actively engaged on the situation in Ukraine, reaching out to key international actors on the urgent need to find a political solution.
The Deputy Secretary-General stated that the international community has been working on initiatives that will support the people of Ukraine and contribute to de-escalating the situation in the country. While in Ukraine, he consulted closely with the OSCE to determine how to the two organizations could best work in coordination to support human rights, monitor the security situation and address minority concerns, among other efforts.
Mr. Eliasson also informed the Council that UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, had just arrived in Kiev, following a request by the Secretary-General to immediately travel to Ukraine. Mr. Šimonovic is set to visit the East, West and South of the country, including Crimea, to evaluate the current human rights situation.
Finally, the Deputy UN chief underscored the need for a solution that will benefit all of the people of Ukraine and the region and ensure the maintenance of international peace and security.
4 March 2014 – Oleksandr Turchynov informed UN Deputy General Secretary Jan Eliasson on situation in Crimea
Ukraine’s Interim President, Speaker of Verhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov has informed UN Deputy General Secretary Jan Eliasson about the situation in the Crimean Autonomous Republic.
"I hope the authority of such a respectable organization will help resolve the complicated situation in Crimea," Turchynov said.
Jan Eliasson said that the most important thing now is to jointly develop a diplomatic and political solution.
Deputy Secretary General assured Oleksandr Turchynov of the UN`s adherence to the idea of Ukraine`s indivisibility and sovereignty.
4 March 2014 – UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson meets with H.E. Mr. Andrii Deshchytsia, acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine
The UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and H.E. Mr. Andrii Deshchytsia, acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, met today to discuss the current crisis in the country.
He and the Foreign Minister both stressed the need for calm and international unity in the pursuit of peace.
They also agreed that all diplomatic channels must be more actively pursued.
Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson reiterated the Secretary-General`s call for the respect for and preservation of Ukraine`s territorial integrity.
1 March 2014 – Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Ukraine
"The Secretary-General continues to closely follow the seriously and rapidly unfolding events in Ukraine, including developments in Crimea, and is gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the full respect for and preservation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
He calls for an immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned to solve the current crisis.
The Secretary-General will be speaking with President Vladimir Putin of Russia shortly about the situation in Ukraine.
As the Secretary-General is about to fly to Europe, he has asked the Deputy Secretary-General to attend today’s Security Council session to brief members of the Council on developments in Ukraine".
1 March 2014 – Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General at the end of his mission to Ukraine
Following the consultations in the United Nations Security Council yesterday, the Secretary-General requested me to go to Crimea as part of my fact-finding mission. I have since been in touch with the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and have come to the conclusion that a visit to Crimea today is not possible. I will therefore proceed to Geneva, where I will tomorrow brief the Secretary-General on my mission and consult with him on next steps.
In Crimea, I would have conveyed, also on behalf of the Secretary-General, a message for all to calm the situation down and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate an already-tense environment.
It became very clear from yesterday’s Council consultations that the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine is not to be called into question. This is a time for dialogue and to engage with each other constructively.
25 February 2014 – Statement by Mr. Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General
As the Secretary-General has noted in his statement yesterday, he has dispatched me to Kiev as his Senior Advisor to assure all citizens of Ukraine of the support of the United Nations and to also convey that he expects all key international actors to work collaboratively to help Ukraine at this challenging time in the country`s history.
I have delivered to them important messages from the Secretary-General, including that the United Nations stands in solidarity with all citizens of Ukraine and is committed to assist a Ukrainian-led, accountable and inclusive governance process, in a spirit of non-violence and upholding the key principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, thereby creating a conducive environment for free and fair elections. As the Secretary-General has said, the United Nations is committed to the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
I have held meetings inter alia with the new Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Turchynov, Vice Prime Minister Mr. Gryshchenko, acting Minister of Finance, Mr. Kolobov and the acting Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olefirov to discuss the situation in Ukraine and concerted efforts to bring about a stable and prosperous future.
19 February 2014 – Ukraine crisis: Pillay sends urgent call for restraint after deadly clashes in Kiev
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on Wednesday called on all parties in Ukraine to exercise maximum restraint after 22 people were killed during violent clashes in Kiev between riot police and protesters on Tuesday.
“I strongly condemn the killings and urge the Government and protesters to act to defuse tensions and to take swift action to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis,” Pillay said.
“I also call for an urgent and independent investigation to establish facts and responsibilities, including the possible use of excessive force, and to ensure accountability for these deadly clashes,” she said.
On 18 February the situation in Ukraine took a violent turn for the worse when protesters attempted in the morning to march on Parliament ahead of a crucial debate reinstating the 2004 Constitution, which would significantly limit the powers of the president.
Violent clashes erupted between riot police and protesters near the Parliament building. The violence continued as riot police tried to clear the protesters` camp in Independence Square. Police fired rubber bullets as well as stun and smoke grenades from trucks, and some protesters threw Molotov cocktails and bricks.
At least 22 people were killed, among them journalists, police officers and protesters. The Ministry of Health reported that 241 people had been taken to hospital.
“I reiterate my call for respect for the right to peaceful assembly, as provided under international human rights law, to be respected,” said the High Commissioner.
“Ukraine needs a dialogue between these opposing voices that respects the country’s legal obligations, political commitments based on international human rights standards, and the recommendations made by the international human rights system,” she said.
“My Office stands ready to offer its assistance on possible reforms relating to human rights,” Pillay said.
18 February 2014 – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed Tuesday for restraint and a "genuine dialogue" in strife-torn Ukraine.
Ban was "extremely concerned" by reports of a resumption of violence and fatalities there and urged "the renewal of genuine dialogue between all parties," his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
7 February 2014 – Readout of the Secretary-General`s meeting with the President of Ukraine
The Secretary-General met today with the President of Ukraine, H.E. Mr. Victor Yanukovych, ahead of the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
The President briefed the Secretary-General at length on the genesis of the crisis and recent developments.
The Secretary-General thanked the President for receiving his Special Envoy, Mr. Robert Serry, whom he dispatched to convey his interest and concern in developments and to express the UN`s solidarity with Ukrainians.
The Secretary-General reiterated the urgency of ending the political crisis through dialogue and the need to prevent further violence. He said the United Nations stood ready to provide technical assistance if requested by both sides.
31 January 2014 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement on Ukraine
We welcome the beginning of dialogue between the President and the opposition. We call for this dialogue to be sustainable, inclusive and grounded on the full respect of international human rights treaties ratified by Ukraine and political commitments made through the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, last March.
We also welcome the abolition by the Ukrainian parliament earlier this week of the laws passed on January 16, which unnecessarily restricted the exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and speech, as well as the operation of NGOs. We call upon the President of Ukraine to sign the new law abolishing the legislative package of January 16.
However we are appalled by the deaths reported in recent days in Kiev, which should be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated. We are also calling for an investigation into reports of kidnappings and torture.
We reiterate our call to the Government and protesters to exercise restraint and create conditions for dialogue and reconciliation. International human rights norms and Ukraine`s compliance with these standards and its obligations pertaining to human rights must be at the centre of any future solutions and reconciliation processes.
21 January 2014 – New laws could seriously curtail fundamental human rights in Ukraine - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday stressed the urgent need for constructive dialogue in Ukraine to avoid further escalation of the unrest in the country, particularly in the wake of sweeping new legislation that falls short of international human rights standards.
“The violent clashes over the past few days in the centre of Kiev, which reportedly resulted in many people being injured, are very worrying,” the High Commissioner said. “I appeal to all parties to engage in constructive dialogue to avoid further escalation of the unrest. The longer they wait, the more difficult it will become to resolve the impasse.”
Pillay also recommended that the dialogue be inclusive and sustained over time. She took note of renewed efforts by the authorities to initiate dialogue with opposition leaders.
However, the High Commissioner expressed serious concern about the legislative package passed last Thursday, 16 January, which introduces strict conditions for the exercise of fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression, and imposes penalties, including prison sentences, for breaches. The laws were published today.
"I call on the authorities to suspend application of the laws to allow time for a thorough review of their content, which must be in full compliance with international human rights standards, in particular Ukraine’s obligations under the relevant treaties it has ratified,” she said.
“I am particularly concerned by the potential that these laws have to curtail the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, the right to information, the right of civil society to work freely. The laws also have the potential to result in impunity for human rights violations.”
Worrying provisions in the law include compelling NGOs receiving international funding to register as "foreign agents", to lose their non-profit status, and to regularly publish accounts of their activities.
“Such provisions will roll back the enjoyment of human rights for the people of Ukraine, stifle debate and dissent, and jeopardise the democratic achievements of the past two decades,” Pillay said.
She welcomed the Ukrainian Ombudsman’s stated intention to conduct an analysis of provisions of the laws from the point of view of potential threats to rights and freedoms, and compliance with the international human rights standards and obligations of Ukraine.
Pillay also reiterated her call on all parties to exercise restraint, stressing that the right to peaceful assembly is a fundamental human right.
“I call on opposition leaders to clearly distance themselves from those of their supporters who are resorting to violence,” she said. “While fully recognising the State’s legitimate duty to protect against violence, I appeal to law enforcement officials to carry out their duties fully in line with relevant international human rights norms.”
20 January 2014 – The Secretary-General informed the President that he has continued to follow the situation in Ukraine closely and shared his grave concern about recent developments in the country.
The Secretary-General recalled his statement of 20 January, calling for meaningful, sustained and inclusive dialogue by all parties in order to find a solution to the crisis and prevent further bloodshed. He encouraged the President to lead the way to a constructive dialogue process to help resolve the crisis in his country peacefully and through compromise.
The Secretary-General assured the President that the United Nations stood by Ukraine and its people.
20 January 2014 – The UN Secretary-General calls to avoid violence and to uphold democratic principles of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly
The Secretary-General continues to follow developments in Ukraine closely and with concern. He reiterates his appeal to all concerned to act with restraint, avoid any further escalation and violence and to uphold the democratic principles of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The Secretary-General takes note of renewed efforts towards dialogue in Ukraine. He urges all parties to engage in meaningful, sustained and inclusive dialogue and reiterates the need for a mutual agreement among Ukrainians on the future path of their country.
13 December 2013 – Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
We are following closely the events in central Kiev and warn against the risk of further escalation, violence and polarisation. We are particularly concerned at reports of the use of excessive force by riot police and violent acts by some demonstrators.
We call upon the authorities to conduct a thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigation into all the violent incidents of the past two weeks. Holding perpetrators of human rights violations and violence accountable, regardless of their status, is essential in times of social unrest and would help restore calm.
The Government must take all necessary measures to ensure that human rights safeguards are upheld during arrest and detention and to avoid unlawful or arbitrary detentions. State authorities must also ensure that detainees are not subjected to torture or any other form of ill-treatment. All those injured must have prompt access to medical care and victims should be able to seek redress.
Ukraine is bound by international conventions guaranteeing the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. We call on all parties involved to exercise restraint to create the conditions for the free expression of opinions.
We join calls made by the UN Secretary General and other international officials for a meaningful dialogue between all parties to find a negotiated solution.
8 December 2013 – Readout of the Secretary-General`s phone call with H.E. Mr. Victor Yanukovich, President of Ukraine
The Secretary-General spoke today with the President of Ukraine, H.E. Mr. Victor Yanukovich.
He congratulated the President on Ukraine`s successful Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairmanship and Ministerial Meeting.
The Secretary-General expressed his grave concern about the situation in Ukraine, emphasised that there must be no resort to violence, and appealed for peaceful dialogue amongst all parties concerned.
The Secretary-General welcomed the President’s assurances that consultations would be initiated to defuse the situation.
07 December 2013 – Concluding visit to Ukraine, top UN political official stresses need for restraint and dialogue to de-escalate tensions
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman concluded a three-day visit to Ukraine. While in Kyiv, Under-Secretary-General Feltman represented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the 20th Ministerial Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. On behalf of the Secretary-General, he congratulated Ukraine on its successful Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2013.
The Under-Secretary-General also had the occasion to meet with representatives of Ukraine`s government and Parliament, political parties, and civil society organizations. In those discussions, he expressed the UN`s solid commitment to the people of Ukraine, an important member state of the organization.
Under-Secretary-General Feltman conveyed his grave concern regarding the current situation and underscored the message of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in rejecting violence and calling for absolute restraint. He urged Ukraine`s political and civil society leaders to engage immediately in dialogue to identify among themselves the means to address Ukraine`s political and economic issues. In that regard, he recommended that they seek peaceful ways on an urgent basis to de-escalate the current tensions.
2 December 2013 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Ukraine
The Secretary-General has been closely following events in Ukraine. He appeals to all parties to act with restraint, avoid any further violence and to uphold the democratic principles of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The Secretary-General encourages meaningful dialogue between all concerned, in the pursuit of a prosperous future for Ukraine and mutual agreement among Ukrainians on the path forward for the country.