Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 15.11.2017
On November 14, Ukraine scored a diplomatic victory and Russia suffered a diplomatic defeat at the United Nations. The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly – the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee – adopted an updated draft resolution affirming that Crimea is Ukraine and condemning Russia for it’s illegal occupation and illegitimate annexation. The vote for the resolution was 71 in favour to 25 against, with 77 abstentions. The resolution had about 40 co-sponsors. The language of the resolution “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine” is stronger than that of a similar resolution passed by the UN General Assembly a year ago. This is in light of the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released on September 25, which found that Russia was committing grave violations of human rights in Crimea and that conditions for the captive population of Ukrainians were worsening.
The language of the draft resolution is strong and accurate. It condemns the ongoing temporary occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and reaffirms the non-recognition of its annexation. In other words, it is wrong for UN member states to say that Crimea is a part of Russia or to advance the Kremlin lie that Crimea is not an integral part of Ukraine.
The draft resolution specifically supports Ukraine’s “efforts to put an end to the Russian occupation of Crimea.”
The key observations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) are outlined in the draft resolution, given that it concerns the “situation of human rights.” The UNHCHR 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. Specifically, and in light of what the UNHCHR reported, the draft resolution condemns “the imposition of automatic Russian Federation citizenship on protected persons in Crimea, which is contrary to international humanitarian law.” Russia has stolen Ukrainian citizenship and its protections from the captive population of Crimea.
The draft resolution passed by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly condemned “extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence, including sexual violence, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment, in particular to extract confessions, and psychiatric internment, and their transfer or deportation from Crimea to the Russian Federation.” All of these grave violations of international human rights were documented by the UNHCHR.
The UN is calling for Russia to lift its ban on the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. It calls for Russia to stop persecuting religious minorities in Crimea, which is all those not adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate. It calls for Russia to respect the preliminary judgement of the International Court of Justice that Russia is violating the “International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism” and the “International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.” It demands that Russia stop compelling military service by Ukrainians to a foreign power, Russia, which is a grave violation of international human rights. It tells Russia to undo its stripping away of the Ukrainian legal system and of the rule of law in Crimea, and to end its imposition of a foreign legal system – the Russian one – on the captive population for whom Russia is responsible. Finally, the draft resolution calls for Russia to restore education in the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages, which it has all but been destroyed in Crimea.
Who could not be outraged by what Russia is doing to Ukraine? The answer is 25 member states of the United Nations, that’s who. Which are the countries that voted against protecting human rights in Crimea? They are: Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cambodia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Iran, India, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Philippines, the Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Except for Russia, none of them voted “Against” because they support what the Putin regime is doing to Ukrainians in Crimea. They voted out of fear of being singled out themselves for their own grave violations of international human rights. The Rohingya minority are being persecuted savagely in Myanmar (formerly Burma). The Duterte regime is engaged in extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. Syria is suffering a civil war, and the Bashar al-Assad/Ba’ath Party faction that has a vote at the UN is a puppet of Russia; Assad is bombing, shelling and gassing the Syrian people with the help of the Putin regime. The shameful group of 25 “Against” countries are authoritarian regimes like Russia, puppet regimes to Russia, extensions of the Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate, and grave violators of international human rights like Russia. They constitute a “rogue’s gallery” of UN member states that voted against respecting the dignity and worth of Ukrainians living in Crimea under temporary Russian occupation.