Ukraine / Russia – International community must mobilise to protect international security & uphold rights

Beirut / London – 24 February 2022

Ukraine / Russia – International community must mobilise to protect international security & uphold rights

Salam for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR) condemns the 24 February 2022 invasion by the Government of Russia [Russian Federation] (GoR) military forces into Ukraine. Our organisation has written to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the United Kingdom. 

In its email, SALAM DHR expressed its dismay at the invasion of Ukraine and the needless killing and destruction for which the GoR is responsible. SALAM DHR called upon the GoR to cease all hostilities, withdraw its forces and return to diplomatic negotiations. The organisation expressed its concern with the cascade of legal, but also moral and ethical challenges created by the invasion, stating that:

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violates Chapters 6 and 7 of the United Nations (UN) Charter and breaches the fundamental principles of peace, security and peaceful resolution of disputes;
  • Russia’s long term de facto control of Donetsk and Luhansk – which the Russian government terms the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) – already violated principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) through the country’s effective occupation of those lands; government ‘recognition’ to land claims by these entities paves the wave for further IHL violations, especially where your government’s military will have taken control, and
  • As the controlling power in areas seized by the government, Russia is now likewise responsible for upholding international human rights law (IHRL), including in relation to the United Nations treaties to which both Russia and the Ukraine are states party, viz, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), despite government action that seeks to negate the object and purpose of its accession to the treaty. As you are aware, the effect of any unilateral or permissible derogations in respect to these legally binding instruments is minimal.

SALAM DHR stated that as long as GoR personnel are present in the country, Russia is an occupying power. The email acknowledged that the GoR has abandoned the UN Charter and the principles of maintaining peace and security and called on Ambassador  Andrei Kelin and the GoRto state, publicly that the Government of Russia (GoR) will:

  • Respect IHL, namely the Geneva Conventions, namely by your government committing to conduct will endeavour to protect civilians and other noncombatants from the impact of armed conflict.
  • Uphold IHRL, including in respect to the right of peaceful assembly and association, in any territory that the GoR controls, including in Ukraine.

 

SALAM DHR urged the Russian Ambassador to remind his  government and elected representatives that they will be held responsible for the decisions that they take in respect to government conduct. 

SALAM DHR urges the Russian people to call upon their leadership to respect international law and reminds the Ukrainian authorities that despite the severe challenges it now faces, the same IHL and IHRL provisions apply to its conduct.

SALAM DHR calls upon the international community to mobilise to protect international security & uphold human rights. Specifically, we call on:

  • The Government of Bahrain to condemn the GoR’s actions and to urge it, publicly, to abide by international law;
  • Members of the UN Security Council to take immediate action to implement measures to halt the actions of the GoR;
  • Members of the Human Rights Council, notably Ukraine and United States; European Union (EU) member states, along with Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia,Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile,Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan,Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal,Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Republic of North Macedonia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand,  Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay and Zambia, to jointly sponsor an urgent, special debate at the Human Rights Council in respect to the conduct of the GoR with a view to condemning all actions that violate fundamental human rights, including by assembling an observer mission to monitor state conduct amidst international armed conflict;
  • All countries which have enacted laws relating to targeted sanctions of government officials and those who enable government malfeasance in respect to violations of international human rights standards to use these to the greatest extent possible; and
  • States neighbouring Ukraine must ensure that those seeking asylum from armed conflict are able to avail themselves of other states’ protection.

Background

In the early hours of 24 February 2022, military forces of the GoR violated the sovereignty of Ukraine by carrying out an invasion at various border points. The GoR invaded despite repeated diplomatic efforts, including interventions by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Emmanuel Macron of France.

SALAM DHR believes that people across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will look on with horror and disgust at the disregard for the rule of law; the human life and dignity and the invasion of a democratic state. 

SALAM DHR welcomes the imposition of targeted, Magnitsky sanctions by the US, EU, Canada, Australia and other states. In respect to the UK, SALAM DHR urges the government to assess the names of 35 Russian nationals named on 23 February 2022 in the UK’s House of Commons by the Liberal Democratic parliamentarian, Layla Moran, using Parliamentary Privilege. This measure, as part of other forms of sanctions, is intended to persuade the GoR to return to the negotiating table. 

Members of SALAM DHR and its ‘family’ have experienced violence, death, and displacement in a context of social unrest that was nevertheless not war. For that reason, our members stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, both within the country and around the world.

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