UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] on Wednesday urged [press release] both the Ukraine government and protesters to find a peaceful resolution to the Kiev protests, which became increasingly violent on Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] also released a statement [text] on Tuesday, expressing concern regarding the escalating situation in Ukraine's capital city. At least 25 individuals have been reported dead [WP report] and more than 240 injured, in protests that escalated when individuals began a march on Parliament Tuesday morning, before a scheduled debate regarding reinstatement of the country's 2004 Constitution. Reinstatement would work to significantly reduce [UN News Centre report] President Viktor Yanukovich's [official website; JURIST news archive] powers. Ban stated that "[p]reventing further instability and bloodshed is a paramount priority," while Pillay urged, “Ukraine needs a dialogue between these opposing voices that respects the country's legal obligations, political commitments based on international human rights standards, and the recommendations made by the international human rights system." Pillay further reiterated a call for respect of the right to peaceful assembly.
Ongoing protests in Kiev have continued for more than two months, prompting reactions from all sides of the conflict. Earlier in February leaders of Ukraine's anti-government protests pressed [JURIST report] Yanukovich for further concessions, including a return to the earlier constitution that would limit presidential powers, and a revival of the EU free trade agreement (FTA) [existing EU FTAs]. In January the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called for an investigation [JURIST report] into torture allegations against Ukraine following widespread arrests of protesters. The statement came the day after Yanukovich offered amnesty to protesters [JURIST report] who were arrested and agree to meet certain conditions. The amnesty bill was passed 232-11 and gave protesters 15 days to comply, but has been rejected by the opposition. Also in January Ban and the OHCHR issued statements [JURIST report] urging Ukrainian protesters to use restraint and calling on both the government and protesters to work towards constructive dialogue to diffuse the rising tension and violence that has gripped the nation.