UN Human Rights Council establishes commission to investigate Russian human rights violations against Ukraine
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UN Human Rights Council establishes commission to investigate Russian human rights violations against Ukraine

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Friday adopted a resolution to establish the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, which aims to investigate the Russian Federation’s alleged human rights violations against Ukraine.

After holding a moment of silence for Ukrainian victims, UNHRC members passed the resolution overwhelmingly in a 32–2 vote. Among the 32 countries voting in favor of the resolution were France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, the UK and the US. The only two countries voting against the resolution were Eritrea and Russia. Other countries decided to abstain from voting.

The newly adopted resolution strongly condemns “the human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law resulting from the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.” It also calls on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Pursuant to the resolution, the UNHRC president will appoint three human rights experts to the newly established investigative commission. These experts must:

investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and related crimes, in the context of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, and to establish the facts, circumstances, and root causes of any such violations and abuses; and to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to ending impunity and ensuring accountability.

Prior to the council’s vote, over 18 countries and several organizations commented on the resolution, which Ukraine presented to the UNHRC. During the debate, “speakers said they stood in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and expressed deep concerns about the situation in Ukraine.” Speakers also called on the UNHRC to “send the message that there would be no impunity for the crimes of Russia” and “to suspend Russia’s Council membership.” Speakers also accused Vladimir Putin of being a “war criminal” who “must be held accountable for his crimes against humanity.”

Earlier this week, US lawmakers also introduced a resolution calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Court of Justice (ICJ) to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine. US Senator Lindsey Graham and Congresswoman Victoria Spartz held a press conference announcing the draft resolution and condemning Russia’s attacks against Ukraine. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed 802 civilian casualties in Ukraine during the first week of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Among those casualties, 249 were killed and 553 injured.