Top UN official slams Russia’s illegal elections in occupied Ukraine

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Top UN official slams Russia’s illegal elections in occupied Ukraine

“Russia’s intention to conduct presidential elections from today, 15 March, until 17 March in areas of Ukraine under its control are unacceptable,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said.

Under international humanitarian law, the occupying power – in this case, Russia – must uphold the laws of Ukraine in the occupied territories, she continued.

‘Unspeakable suffering and destruction’

Noting that 16 March marks a decade since Russia’s unlawful attempt to annex Crimea and Sevastopol through a “so-called referendum”, she said Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has seen further annexation attempts in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.

She highlighted General Assembly resolutions condemning these illegal actions and pointed to UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reports on past “so-called referenda” and local elections conducted in a “coercive environment”.

“Any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the principles of the UN Charter and international law,” she said, “yet, that is what the Russian Federation has attempted in Ukraine, causing, in the process, unspeakable suffering and destruction.”

Growing humanitarian concerns

She said the humanitarian situation in Ukraine remains dire amid the intensification of aerial assaults by Russian forces, as highlighted last week by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

A new report by the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, published on Friday, provides new insight and confirms previous findings that torture against civilians by Russian authorities in Ukraine and in Russia has been widespread and systematic, she said.

“Victims’ accounts disclose relentless, brutal treatment inflicting severe pain and suffering during prolonged detention, with blatant disregard for human dignity,” she said, adding that all perpetrators of such egregious violations must be held accountable.

“We continue to support efforts to this end by continuing to record these cases and to implore the Russian Federation to facilitate access to all detainees,” she said.

‘Peace continues to elude us’

“As this war is now in its third year, peace continues to elude us,” she said. 

The rising toll of the war on the people of Ukraine is undeniable, and women constitute the vast majority of 6.2 million people forced to flee their homes during the war, she told ambassadors.

Despite immense obstacles, Ukrainian women have been at the forefront of humanitarian initiatives, and female-led civil society groups were among the earliest responders to the full-scale invasion, she said, adding that it is crucial to recognize their essential role in the long process to recovery and peaceful future of Ukraine.

“The pursuit of peace must be our foremost priority, guided by the UN Charter, international law and General Assembly resolutions,” she said.

Watch Ukraine’s ambassador deliver a statement on behalf of international partners outside the Security Council Chamber here.

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