I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic Countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Denmark.
The General Assembly has just voted to suspend the Russian Federation’s rights of membership in the Human Rights Council. The Nordic countries voted in favour.
The suspension of the rights of a member state in the UN Human Rights Council is not an easy decision. The Nordic countries strongly support the Human Rights Council - as an inclusive forum for dialogue on important human rights issues.
But a membership of the Council encompasses responsibilities. Members of the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The General Assembly has a responsibility to safeguard the integrity and credibility of the Council. This includes considering the suspension of the rights of membership of the Council of a member that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.
The Russian Federation’s unprovoked, unjustified and unlawful attack on Ukraine is a gross violation of international law and the UN Charter and it has had a catastrophic impact on Ukraine, in particular on its civilians.
Already on 4 March 2022, the Human Rights Council expressed grave concern regarding reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” and “violations of international humanitarian law” by the Russian Federation during its aggression against Ukraine.
We are appalled by the shocking reports of human rights violations in the Russian-controlled areas – including sexual and gender based violence against women and girls, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, abductions, enforced disappearances, as well as deportations. We condemn in the strongest terms the reported massacres, torture and sexual violence, including rape, used against civilians in Bucha, the liberated areas around Kyiv and other regions.
Investigations into these crimes are ongoing. We welcome the establishment by the Human Rights Council of a Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine – to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. And we also welcome that the ICC has opened an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. Due process in the pursuit of accountability will be ensured.
In the meantime, the UN Human Rights Council should not, and will not, be tainted by a full-fledged membership of a state accused of some of the most horrific war crimes seen in Europe since the end of World War II.
We created the United Nations and its institutions to ensure international cooperation around peace, security, social and economic development and human rights. The institutions of the United Nations must be respected as such. We should not allow them to be used deliberately to disseminate propaganda and disinformation.
We thank member states today for standing up for the international rule-based order, the integrity of the Human Rights Council and the rules and principles of the UN Charter.
I thank you.