Russia’s war on Ukraine triggered ‘massive violations of human rights,’ says UN chief

WASHINGTON (AA) : Russia’s war on Ukraine has initiated extensive violations of human rights, the UN secretary-general said at the opening of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most massive violations of human rights we are living today,” said Antonio Guterres.

“It has unleashed widespread death, destruction, and displacement. Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure have caused many casualties and terrible suffering.”

The Human Rights Council session runs from Feb. 27 to March 31, and Ukraine will be on the agenda.

Guterres said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had documented dozens of cases of conflict-related sexual violence against men, women, and girls.

“And serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law against prisoners of war – and hundreds of cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions of civilians – were also documented,” said the UN chief.

He noted that, unfortunately, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted 75 years ago, which should be “our common blueprint,” is too often misused and abused, and “as we mark its 75th anniversary, the Universal Declaration is under assault from all sides.”

Guterres said the declaration is exploited for political gain, and “some governments chip away at it. Others use a wrecking ball.”

Without naming any countries, Guterres said today’s “public disregard and private disdain” for human rights are a wake-up call.

“We must revitalize the Universal Declaration and ensure its full implementation to face the new challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.

“Human rights are not a luxury that can be left until we find a solution to the world’s other problems,” Guterres said, noting that they are the solution to many of the world’s other problems. “From the climate emergency to the misuse of technology, the answers to today’s crises are found in human rights.”