Thank you to UN Women, UNICEF, and Ms. Cherepakha. From whom – again – this Council has heard alarming assessments of the consequences of Russia’s war.
We are deeply shocked by the atrocities committed against civilians in places that have been held by Russian forces – including credible reports of extrajudicial killings of civilians.
We strongly condemn the attack on the train station in Kramatorsk. These atrocities shock the conscience of humanity.
The protection of civilians and the respect for human rights are not a matter of choice. These are legal obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Yet the reality is that the women and girls of Ukraine now face a drastically heightened risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, abuse, and trafficking. Just last week USG DiCarlo briefed the Council on disturbing reports of conflict-related sexual violence perpetrated by Russian forces – including brutal acts committed in front of children.
The sexual and reproductive health, and rights, of women and girls have also been severely diminished, due to displacement, and the targeted destruction of health facilities. For many – including refugees – it means the near total loss of access to essential, sometimes lifesaving, assistance. Our humanitarian response therefore must also be gender and age sensitive – to avoid and address protection gaps.
In the midst of intense warfare – and the calls for Russia to end the violence and negotiate in good faith – there is a tendency to forget that women are also at the front line in every way.
Ukrainian women are among the combatants fighting to defend their country; they ensure delivery of basic and life-saving services; and they most definitely suffer the full consequences of war. It is therefore imperative that their rights are respected, and that their full, equal, and meaningful participation is ensured in any political processes, talks, and negotiations regarding the future of Ukraine and its people.
Children’s lives and well-being are constantly threatened by the ravages of war. They are traumatised by violence, displacement, and the destruction of the places that they live, learn and play. Their future is at stake.
Norway is alarmed by the reports that more than 60 per cent of Ukraine’s children are now displaced as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion. We call for the immediate cessation of attacks on, and threats of attacks against, schools, students and teachers, in line with Resolution 2601 and the Safe Schools Declaration. And we recall the obligation of parties to conflict to facilitate the continuation of education.
Norway supports the assessment by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the ongoing violence by Russian forces raises serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes; or even crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law.
This underlines the importance of the ongoing investigation of the situation in Ukraine by the International Criminal Court, as well as the Human Rights Council. And their work to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
There is no doubt that the physical and psychological wounds of this war will be felt for generations. Once again, we call on Russia to cease its attacks on the Ukrainian civilian population, and to stop this senseless war.