UN committee adopts resolution recognizing Russia as occupying power in Crimea

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Image: Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

2016/11/16 - 07:34 • Crimea, Politics, Russia

On 15 November, the UN’s human rights committee adopted a resolution dedicated to the human rights situation in occupied Crimea. This is the first UN document to recognize Russia as an occupying power, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol – as occupied territory.

73 states voted in support of the document entitled “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine),” 23 voted against, and 76 abstained. 41 states joined the list of co-sponsors.

The countries that voted against were: AngolaArmeniaBelarusBoliviaBurundiCambodiaChinaCubaComoros IslandsEritreaKazakhstanIndiaIran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russian FederationSerbiaSouth AfricaSudanSyriaUzbekistanVenezuela, Zimbabwe.

This is the first time that the Russian Federation is recognized as an occupying power, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as a temporarily occupied territory, in official documents of the UN.

In addition, the resolution confirmed the territorial integrity of Ukraine and denounced an attempt to annex the Ukrainian peninsula, as well as  calls upon Russia to uphold its obligations under UN law as an occupying power and end abuses against residents of Crimea, release Ukrainians who were illegally detained, and revoke the banning of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis.

The document also urges the Russian Federation to grant international human rights mechanisms, in particular the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, unimpeded access to Crimea in order to monitor the human rights situation and asks the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a separate thematic report on the situation in the peninsula.

The approval of the resolution is planned at the plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in December 2016.

Ukrainian officials have welcomed the resolution as an important diplomatic, political and legal mechanism by which Ukraine protects the rights of citizens of Ukraine on the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea.

According to Emine Dzheppar, advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of information policy, Russian representatives attempted to obstruct the vote by means of pressure and intimidation of voting members. She also informed that many delegations considered that issues such as the current resolution should be viewed not in the Third Committee in New York, but in Geneva, at the UN’s Human Rights Council.

The text of the resolution is as follows.

Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights treaties and other relevant international instruments and declarations,

Confirming the primary responsibility of States to promote and protect human rights,

Reaffirming the responsibility of States to respect international law, including the principle that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State and from acting in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, in which it approved the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming the principles contained therein,

Recalling its resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, in which it affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and relevant decisions of international organizations, specialized agencies and bodies within the United Nations system,

Condemning the temporary occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine — the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (hereinafter “Crimea”) — by the Russian Federation, and reaffirming the non-recognition of its annexation,

Welcoming the reports of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Ukraine, of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, and of the human rights assessment mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in which they stated that violations and abuses of human rights continued to take place in Crimea and pointed to the sharp deterioration of the overall human rights situation,

Condemning the imposition of the legal system of the Russian Federation and the negative impact on the human rights situation in Crimea,

Condemning also the reported serious violations and abuses committed against residents of Crimea, in particular extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees and their transfer from Crimea to the Russian Federation, as well as reported abuses of other fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly,

Expressing serious concern at the decision of the so -called Supreme Court of Crimea of 26 April 2016 and the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 29 September 2016 to declare the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, to be an extremist organization and to ban its activities,

Recalling the prohibition under the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the occupying Power to compel a protected person to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces,

Welcoming the continued efforts by the Secretary-General, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and other international and regional organizations to support Ukraine in promoting, protecting and ensuring human rights, and expressing concern over the lack of safe and unfettered access by established regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms and human rights non-governmental organizations to Crimea,

Condemns the abuses, measures and practices of discrimination against the residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea, including Crimean Tatars, as well as Ukrainians and persons belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, by the Russian occupation authorities;

Urges the Russian Federation:

To uphold all of its obligations under applicable international law as an occupying Power;

To take all measures necessary to bring an immediate end to all abuses against residents of Crimea, in particular reported discriminatory measures and practices, arbitrary detentions, torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and to revoke all discriminatory legislation;

To immediately release Ukrainian citizens who were unlawfully detained and judged without regard for elementary standards of justice, as well as those transferred across internationally recognized borders from Crimea to the Russian Federation;

To address the issue of impunity and ensure that those found to be responsible for abuses are held accountable before an independent judiciary;

To create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for journalists and human rights defenders to perform their work independently and without undue interference in Crimea;

To permit the reopening of cultural and religious institutions;

To revoke immediately the decision declaring the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People an extremist organization and banning its activities, and repeal the decision banning leaders of the Mejlis from entering Crimea;

To cooperate fully and immediately with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe on the situation of human rights in Crimea;

Requests the Secretary-General to seek ways and means, including through consultations with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant regional organizations, to ensure safe and unfettered access to Crimea by established regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms to enable them to carry out their mandate;

Urges the Russian Federation to ensure the proper and unimpeded access of international human rights monitoring missions and human rights non-governmental organizations to Crimea, recognizing that the international presence in Crimea is of paramount importance in preventing the situation from further deterioration;

Requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a dedicated thematic report on the situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol in accordance with the existing mandate and within the existing resources of the human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, which is currently funded by voluntary contributions;

Decides to continue its consideration of the matter at its seventy-second session under the item entitled “Promotion and protection of human rights”

The delegation of Belarus in the Third Committee attempted to remove the draft resolution on Crimea and several other resolutions from consideration, but this proposal was supported by only 32 delegations, 101 voted against and 37 abstained.

In 2014, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the UN had adopted Resolution 68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which was supported by 101 countries.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dirk Smith

    The usual third-world suspects in voting against this resolution.

    • Paul

      India seems out of place on that list?

      • Turtler

        Unfortunately. But for all of the admirable nature of India it has an odd and repugnant connection with various tyrants and despots in the Third and Second World. They did outright say they would not support measures to punish Russia for its’ crimes.

        So I am not terribly surprised this happened. Though I am disappointed.

      • Quartermaster

        India has long been a question mark on such things. Supposedly among the non-aligned nations, it has taken Russia’s side on many issues, and the Soviet Union prior to that.

  • zorbatheturk

    Poltroon
    Usurper
    Thief
    Invader
    Narcissist.

    Vladolf da Putler, Fuehrer von RoSSiya.