UN supports Ukraine: Russia as official "temporary occupier of Ukrainian Crimea": pros, cons, and whys

11:46 Nov. 16, 2016

Russia as official "temporary occupier of Ukrainian Crimea": pros, cons, and whys

Diplomats leave their seats to photograph an electronic monitors showing a vote count in UN (AP photo)

Ukraine Today reviewed the new UN resolution on Human rights in Crimea under Russian occupation 

On 15 November, the UN's human rights committee adopted a resolution entitled "Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)." This is the first UN document to recognize Russia as an occupying power, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol – as occupied territory.

73 states voted in support of the document, 23 voted against, and 76 abstained. 41 states joined the list of co-sponsors.

23 countries, which voted against the document, are of traditional 'Kremlin poll' in UN, plus Bolivia and Comoros for some reason. China traditionally sceptic on too much human rights, so this voting was rather predictable. Full list of those voted against the resolution: Angola, Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Comoros, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

Read also UN recognizes Crimea as occupied – for the first time

76 delegations avoided taking any position: Algeria, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Singapore, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia.

The list of co-sponsors of the document includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America.

This is the first time that the Russian Federation is recognized as an occupying power, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as a temporarily occupied territory, in official documents of the UN, Ukrainian diplomats stressed.

"Condemning the temporary occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine — the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (hereinafter "Crimea") — by the Russian Federation, and reaffirming the non-recognition of its annexation," document reads.

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The resolution confirmed the territorial integrity of Ukraine and denounced an attempt to annex the Ukrainian peninsula, as well as calls upon Russia to uphold its obligations under UN law as an occupying power and end abuses against residents of Crimea, release Ukrainians who were illegally detained, and revoke the banning of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis.

Specifically, the list of demands to the Russian Federation includes:

"(a) To uphold all of its obligations under applicable international law as an occupying Power;

(b) To take all measures necessary to bring an immediate end to all abuses against residents of Crimea, in particular reported discriminatory measures and practices, arbitrary detentions, torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and to revoke all discriminatory legislation;

(c) To immediately release Ukrainian citizens who were unlawfully detained and judged without regard for elementary standards of justice, as well as those transferred across internationally recognized borders from Crimea to the Russian Federation;

(d) To address the issue of impunity and ensure that those found to be responsible for abuses are held accountable before an independent judiciary;

(e) To create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for journalists and human rights defenders to perform their work independently and without undue interference in Crimea;

(f) To permit the reopening of cultural and religious institutions;

(g) To revoke immediately the decision declaring the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People an extremist organization and banning its activities, and repeal the decision banning leaders of the Mejlis from entering Crimea;

(h) To cooperate fully and immediately with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe on the situation of human rights in Crimea."

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The document also urges the Russian Federation to grant international human rights mechanisms, in particular the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, unimpeded access to Crimea in order to monitor the human rights situation and asks the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a separate thematic report on the situation in the peninsula.

Also the document actually prohibited Kremlin to enlist the Crimean citizens to Russian army.

"Recalling the prohibition under the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the occupying Power to compel a protected person to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces," document reads.

Ukrainian officials have welcomed the resolution as an important diplomatic, political and legal mechanism by which Ukraine protects the rights of citizens of Ukraine on the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea, Euromaidan Press points out.

Read also Russian policy in Crimea is a colonization (analytics)

The President of Ukraine called it "a triumph of justice".

"Convincing result… A real victory for justice! The UN called Russia the occupier state, the Crimea and Sevastopol -temporarily occupied territories," Petro Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.

"Constant monitoring of the UN Human Rights – the first step towards de-occupation Ukrainian Crimea. Now the phrase "temporary occupation of Crimea and Ukrainian. Sevastopol" –in all UN official documents till de-occupation of Crimea," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin stated.

According to Emine Dzheppar, advisor to Ukraine's Minister of information policy, Russian representatives attempted to obstruct the vote by means of pressure and intimidation of voting members. She also informed that many delegations considered that issues such as the current resolution should be viewed not in the Third Committee in New York, but in Geneva, at the UN's Human Rights Council.

The delegation of Belarus in the Third Committee attempted to remove the draft resolution on Crimea and several other resolutions from consideration, but this proposal was supported by only 32 delegations, 101 voted against and 37 abstained.

Russian officials in turn assured that the situation with human rights in Crimea is so good, that most Ukrainians would be happy to live under occupation.

"We are convinced that many Ukrainians would prefer to live like the residents of Crimea live now, that is, under conditions of peace, stable economic development and social security," said Anatoly Viktorov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights, who represented Russia at the committee's meeting.

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He also blurted out that Ukraine has ‘growing neo-Nazi sentiments', and human rights at all are just ‘a tool of a political game' against Russia.

The resolution is planned to be reviewed and most likely adopted at the plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in December 2016.

"The adopted resolution on Crimea is the result of crazy teamwork – in New York, Kyiv and other parts of the world. And we will not stop on this," members of Ukrainian mission to UN concluded.

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