Geneva, 4 March 2022 (TDI): The Human Rights Council’ (HRC) approved a commission of inquiry to assess the violation of the rights in Ukraine. There was an urgent debate yesterday on the situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Ukraine-Russian conflict.  

The Human Rights Council voted for setting up a commission of inquiry into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The resolution was forwarded by Ukraine.

After the debate, thirty-two member states approved the vote, while 13 abstained from it. Two countries, Russia and Eritrea, opposed the vote. 

Venezuela and Cuba, earlier opposed the vote and asked to hold an urgent debate, now decided to abstain. Those countries that abstained from the vote include China, Pakistan, India, Cameroon, Gabon, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. 

The Resolution  

Ukraine wrote to the HRC President to hold an emergency session last week. It asked for a debate to assess the human rights violation in Ukraine by Russia.

The resolution is co-sponsored by 68 member states. It condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It called on council members to establish an independent international commission of inquiry.

This commission is constituted by three human rights experts, to find rights abuses in Ukraine. The commission demands an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.

The International Criminal Court also announced to launch of a criminal war crimes investigation into the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Ambassador Lotte Knudsen who is head of the EU delegation to the UN in Geneva endorsed the move. He said that the vote at the Council is a loud message for Russia to stop aggression and seek diplomacy.

Brazil voted in favor of the resolution however it denounced it as “flawed” and unbalanced. The Ambassador of Brazil said that the given human rights violations and abuses in Ukraine are not sufficient.

He said that Brazil repeats that a fact-finding mission would be more appropriate. Ukraine’s permanent representative, Yevheniia Filipenko thanked members for their support.

He addressed ambassadors of Russia and Belarus that it is their choice to continue defending evil or maintain human dignity. 

Suspension of Russian membership 

The press asked a question if Ukraine would seek to have Russia’s membership suspended from the Human Rights Council. The Permanent Representative of Ukraine, Yevheniia Filipenko replied that nothing is off the table.

He said that Ukraine will continue to work to see how this issue can be thoroughly and strongly handled. Filipenko announced to establish the independent commission of inquiry soon to conduct the investigation.

He said that he will confirm the exact details and timing of the commission soon. The President of the Human Rights Council, Federico Villegas of Argentina, will be tasked to work alongside the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission’s team in Ukraine.

He will appoint three independent experts to work with the Monitoring team. HRC has earmarked a budget of $4.1 million for the inquiry.

Earlier the UN has also launched an emergency aid appeal for refugee humanitarian needs in Ukraine. It has requested $1.7bn to help people who have fled the country and are internally displaced.  

United Nations Human Rights Council 

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system. It has 47 States who are responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the globe.

Further, it can discuss all thematic human rights issues, and it has situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the U.N. Office in Geneva.