Russia is not only violating the sovereignty of one of it’s neighbours and its people, but is also questioning the whole architecture of global security, and is using the fragile situation of a dysfunctional and ineffective UN Security Council.
It must be said loud and clear: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and is internationally defined by what it is: an aggression that constitutes a crime. Russia is invading the heart of Europe to overthrow a democratic government legitimately elected by the Ukrainian people, and is having a massive impact that is very real and potential, on the lives and wellbeing of the civil population; none of the reasons given by Russia to start this military attack (the abuses from the Ukrainian war of 2014-2015 in Donetsk and Luhansk, which were committed by both sides) can even remotely justify its actions. And what’s worse, this attack is coming from one of the global nuclear powers of the world and a permanent member of the UN Security Council; Russia currently holds the Presidency of the Council at present.
Since the start of the invasion, Amnesty International has documented and verified a massive surge in international violations of international humanitarian law (also known as the laws of war) and human rights, including the killing of civilians as a consequence of indiscriminate attacks against civil infrastructure. Attacks on civil objects such as hospitals and schools; the use of weapons with indiscriminate effects such as ballistic missiles and the use of prohibited weapons such as cluster munitions may constitute war crimes. All parties involved in these crimes must be accountable for these violations: mechanisms must be put in place to demand their personal, individual and collective liability. In this sense, the fact that the International Criminal Court has stated it would launch an enquiry into what may happen in Ukraine these days is good news, and we welcome it. In these early stages of the conflict, gathering and saving evidence is essential for future investigations to be successful. Above all, we must make sure that the victims of war crimes in Ukraine, and figures are rising alarmingly every day, get the message that the international community is adamant about gaining reparation for their suffering.
As for the displacement of people, we are witnessing the greatest exodus since World War II. In just over a week, more than a million Ukrainians have left their countries looking for protection and safety. It is very important for countries receiving them to bear in mind a set of golden rules when responding to the arrival of these people in their territory: they must treat all people equally, without discrimination based on origin or ethnicity; provide second reception services that are based on peoples’ needs; keep families united; suspend the need for visas or other entry requirements that may make their arrival difficult; and share responsibilities between countries, not just those bordering Ukraine.
UN member states must remain united and must not allow the consequences of the Russian aggression to push the world to the verge of violence, human rights violations and insecurity. Russia is not only violating the sovereignty of one of it’s neighbours and its people, but is also questioning the whole architecture of global security, and is using the fragile situation of a dysfunctional and ineffective UN Security Council. This conflict will have long-lasting consequences for all of us. We must not allow the aggression and violations of international law to become take hold of security in the World.
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