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UN experts call for end to Russian aggression against Ukraine and urgent protection of human rights


In a statement published on 28 February, UN human rights experts called on the Russian Federation to immediately end its aggression against Ukraine and call off its unnecessary and unprovoked military attack. They issued the statement below.

The experts include Prof Alexandra Xanthaki, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and Prof Javaid Rehman, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both are professors in the Brunel Law School.

“We are collectively outraged and distressed by the Russian Federation’s aggression on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Use of force by one State against another is fundamentally unacceptable and strikes at the very heart of the object and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.

The consequences of this military attack on the protection and promotion of human rights in Ukraine will be profound and long-lasting and will cause immense suffering and irreparable harm through human rights and humanitarian law violations, forced displacement of civilians and environmental destruction. The consequences will last for generations.

We are profoundly concerned about the safety and protection of everyone in Ukraine and the well-founded fear which now pervades the daily life of every member of that society, and which has forced many to flee their country for safety.

The UN Charter, from which our collective work as experts on human rights flows, was created expressly to settle differences between States and to peacefully prevent armed conflict and protect the right to self-determination. By doing so, it establishes the basis for protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people.

We express our profound dismay at the violations of the right to life, liberty and security that have already occurred. The right to life is the bedrock right of our international legal order and the core human right which enables all other rights to be exercised. We are also profoundly troubled by the impact of the conflict on freedom of assembly, association and expression, including restrictions within the Russian Federation and call for all those arrested and detained to be treated consistently with the Russian Federation’s international human rights obligations.

We strongly urge the Russian Federation to listen to the collective voice of the international community which has unequivocally condemned its military actions as unacceptable to all.

As human rights experts, we urge the Russian Federation to observe and respect the principles of international law including the laws and customs of war related to the protection of the civilian populations, to end these hostilities immediately and unconditionally, and to restore the ability of the Ukrainian people to exercise all of their fundamental rights without military or external interference.”

The full list of signatories is shown on the original statement published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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