‘Undeniable need for accountability’ in Ukraine as violations mount

By United Nations

‘Undeniable need for accountability’ in Ukraine as violations mount

The Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine presented its first detailed written report to the UN General Assembly, which concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe “an array” of war crimes, violations of international human rights, and humanitarian law have been committed.

Set up by the Human Rights Council in March, it presented its initial findings in Geneva at the end of last month.

“Given the gravity of the identified violations, there is an undeniable need for accountability”, the Commission told the General Assembly.

Devastation and loss

“The impact of these violations on the civilian population in Ukraine is immense. The loss of lives is in the thousands. The destruction of infrastructure is devastating,” said Chair of the Commission, Erik Møse.

The Commission documented attacks where explosive weapons were used indiscriminately in populated areas that were under attack by Russian armed forces and found that Russian troops had attacked civilians attempting to flee.

There are also examples of both parties, to different degrees, failing to protect civilians or civilian objects against the effects of attacks, by locating military objects and forces within or near densely populated areas.

Russian armed forces are responsible for the vast majority of the violations identified, including war crimes. Ukrainian forces have also committed international humanitarian law violations in some cases, including two incidents that qualify as war crimes.

The truth ‘as we have observed it’

In an interview with UN News, Mr. Møse said that this first phase of the Commission’s work, was chiefly concerned with gathering primary evidence, especially witness testimony.

Asked for his reaction to the fact that many Russians do not accept that their forces have carried out any human rights abuses during the war, he said simply that “what is in this report, is the truth as we have observed it.”

The Commission documented patterns of summary executions, unlawful confinement, torture, ill-treatment, rape, and other sexual violence committed in areas occupied by Russian armed forces across the four regions on which it focused.

A stepfather whose son was killed in Bucha told the Commission: “I used to want to find those who were responsible and kill them. But now I want the guilty to be put on trial and I want the truth to come out.”

Food exports are down, but the grain initiative provides a big boost

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) requested $180.4 million to strengthen Ukraine’s capacity for food storage, testing, and certifications, which are needed for exporting food across the border. To date, FAO has mobilized $79.7 million, leaving a gap of $100.7 million, which is urgently needed to support households in rural areas during the winter.

According to the government, Ukraine exported 12.9 million tonnes of cereals, legumes, and flour in the 2022-23 marketing year, compared to 20 million tonnes last year.

More than 7.8 million tonnes of this grain and foodstuffs were exported through the Black Sea Grain Initiative, established by the UN and partners, to allow food and fertilizer to reach overseas markets, especially where the need is greatest in the developing world.