I thank you for convening this meeting. I also thank Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, for their respective briefings on the political and human rights situation in Ukraine.
Since February this year, the Security Council was seized with the conflict in Ukraine which, few months later, has killed more than 3,700 people, wounded more than 9,000 civilians and drove more than 824,000 Ukrainians out of their homes, including over 430,000 internally displaced. The position of Rwanda is clear and constant. It revolves around three key principles. First, end of hostilities and respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; second, need for a genuine dialogue among Ukrainians, aimed at fostering national reconciliation, establishing self-governance and promoting rights for minorities; and third, need for a diplomatic settlement to this crisis, involving countries and organizations of the region.
It’s in this context that Rwanda welcomed the signing of the Twelve-point Minsk Protocol Agreement on 5 September 2014, which declared ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, as well as its implementation’s Memorandum of 19 September. We note with satisfaction the steps already taken by President Petro Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Parliament to implement both agreements, mainly the implementation of the ceasefire, the exchange of the detainees, as well as the adoption of laws on amnesty and on self-governance. In this regard, we believe that the parliamentary elections of this Sunday will help implementing those agreements, as they are critical to consolidate democracy, diversity and the rule of law in Ukraine. We are however concerned at the inflammatory statements of armed separatists against those elections and we recall that only elections organized by the legitimate government in Kiev will be constitutional and in line with the Minsk Agreements.
While the ceasefire, although fragile, had raised hope for peace in Ukraine, we are concerned by the statement of the Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, officially declaring the end of the ceasefire, which followed regular violations by armed separatists. In this context, we reiterate our call on all illegal armed groups, mainly in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to lay down their arms; and we urge the Trilateral Contact Group to use its influence to ensure that the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is not hindered and that the Minsk Protocol is fully respected.
Rwanda is deeply troubled by the findings of the sixth monthly report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). We condemn the continued terror activities of armed groups in areas under their control, where they pursued killings, abductions, torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights abuses, including destruction of housing and seizure of property. We equally condemn the violations of international human rights law by some of the volunteer battalions, under the control of the Government of Ukraine. Furthermore, we raise our concern over the use of heavy weaponry and indiscriminate shelling of densely populated areas, including the reported use of cluster munitions. On this last allegation, and in light of the response of the Ukrainian Government, which denied the use of those illegal munitions, we hope that a full, thorough and independent investigations will be conducted to shed light on this allegation.
But more generally, given this dark picture of the human rights situation in Ukraine, Rwanda urges all warring parties to comply with the international humanitarian and human rights law. We welcome the commitment of the Ukrainian government to investigate the reported human rights violations, including on the discovered mass graves, and we stress that the perpetrators, including those who bear the command responsibility, should be held accountable.
Let me conclude, Madam President, by noting that, with the ongoing fighting, the winter season fast approaching and the current shortage of gas in Ukraine, the eastern part of the country is heading towards a humanitarian catastrophe. We therefore call on the political leaders in Ukraine and those who have influence on them, to show leadership and responsibility by making sure that the ceasefire is upheld and by finding a lasting political and diplomatic solution to a crisis that has been going on for too long.
I thank you.