United Nations General Assembly: Resumed Eleventh Emergency Special Session

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Mr President,

New Zealand welcomes the adoption of the resolution, ‘Suspension of the rights of membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council'.

New Zealand co-sponsored the resolution introduced by Ukraine this morning because, in our assessment, the international community simply could not continue to tolerate Russia serving on the body the United Nations has entrusted to promote and protect human rights around the world: the Human Rights Council.

It is a rare step to consider an action such as this. It is not one we take lightly.

However, in establishing the Human Rights Council the General Assembly was clear what was expected of its members.

UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 provides that Council members “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

As others have noted, it further provides that the General Assembly may suspend the rights of membership in the Council of a member of the Council that “commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.”

For New Zealand, the situation is clear.

In launching its unjustified and illegal attack, Russia, has chosen to create a human rights crisis in Ukraine.

Russia is violating international humanitarian law every day this conflict continues.

Humanitarian corridors are being deliberately targeted. Civilians are being deliberately targeted. Civilian infrastructure is being deliberately targeted.

The horrific reports that have emerged of civilian killings and other atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine over recent days are appalling.

They evidence gross and systemic violations of human rights and indicate war crimes and crimes against humanity that must be investigated.

They certainly are not the actions of a country that is upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Russia has flagrantly and deliberately chosen to disregard its responsibilities as a member of the Human Rights Council.

Therefore, Russia no longer deserves a seat at that table.

The scale of this crisis demanded an urgent, strong and effective response from the General Assembly. This is what we have witnessed today.

Beyond the adoption of this resolution, we must ensure that Russia is held accountable for its actions. Concerned over possible war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by Russia, New Zealand - alongside 41 other countries - has already referred atrocities in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court. We continue to support Prosecutors in their investigations into all international crimes committed in Ukraine.

Finally, allow me to convey that the thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Ukraine. No country or people should ever be subjected to the horrors the people of Ukraine are facing. We stand united with Ukraine.

We stand united in the upholding of the integrity of the UN Charter, and the credibility of the Human Rights Council.

Thank you.


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