Ukraine’s referendums are not a true expression of popular will, nor are they legal under international law

Independence day in Kyiv, Ukraine

The so-called “referendums” held since September 23 by the de facto authorities in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions were held under an ongoing armed conflict, in areas under Russian control and outside Ukraine’s legal and constitutional framework. , for which “they cannot be described as an authentic expression of the popular will”, assured the Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the UN.

During a session of Security Council Dedicated to Ukraine, Rosemary DiCarlo affirmed this Tuesday that “unilateral actions aimed at giving a facade of legitimacy to the attempted acquisition by force of the territory of a State by another State”they cannot be considered legal under international law.”

For this reason, he reiterated the Organization’s full commitment “to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders”, and “in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions”.

To close this section of his speech, he reminded Russia that, as an occupying power and as indicated by international humanitarian law, it is obliged to respect the laws of Ukraine in the administration of the occupied territories.

Subsequently, and during an intervention via video conference, the president of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelenski, described the referendum as a “farce”, and indicated that people are forced to fill out some papers while they are threatened with machine guns when the results of the referendum are already known. consult beforehand.

For his part, the permanent representative of Russia, Vassily Nebenzia, indicated that the results of the referendum will be published in the coming days and described it as “a long-awaited event” by the inhabitants of the Donbas region who, “for a long time They want us to bring to their land the peace that they have not seen for eight years.”

© UNDP Ukraine/Krepkih Andrey

Independence day in Kyiv, Ukraine

hostilities escalate

DiCarlo then explained that in recent weeks there has been intense fighting in southern Ukraine towards Kherson and Zaporizhia, as well as an escalation of military operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“We continue to witness daily not only attacks in many Ukrainian cities, including Donetsk and Luhansk, but also assaults on civilian energy and water (supply) infrastructure, apparently by Russian forces. Recent reports of drone attacks in and around Odessa are also very worrying,” he specified.

Referring to figures recorded by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he raised the number of civilian victims to 14,844, with 5,996 people dead and 8,848 injured.

The record represents an increase of 278 civilian deaths and 649 injuries since DiCarlo last reported to the Council on September 7. He detailed that these incidents were verified and indicated the probability that the real figures are considerably higher.

The use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable

“We have also heard alarming rhetoric about the use of nuclear weapons. This is unacceptable,” he stressed, noting that “this rhetoric is incompatible with the Joint Declaration of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Prevention of the Arms Race,” issued on March 3, January.

DiCarlo reiterated the call of the General secretary for all nuclear weapon states, including Russia, to recommit not to use and to progressively eliminate nuclear weapons.

400 bodies found in clandestine graves in Izium

He then stressed that the Human Rights Observation Mission in Ukraine continues to report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and expressed concern about reports of violations committed in some parts of northeastern Ukraine, including the recovery of more than 400 bodies from clandestine graves in the city of Izium.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs explained that the aforementioned for Human Rights continues to work with local authorities “to investigate this and other complaints of violations and abuses of human rights in areas of the Kharkiv region”, under control of the troops. Russian until recently.

He recalled that the Independent International Commission of Inquiry into Ukraine, commissioned by the Human Rights Councilconcluded that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine and indicated that, among other findings, the Commission was surprised by the large number of executions and other violations carried out by Russian forces.

It also noted that in the four areas covered by the Commission, two incidents of ill-treatment of Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian forces were recorded.

“Rarely, if ever, has the international community collected so much evidence of human rights violations, war crimes and other atrocities as they occurred,” he said.

To later add: “It is tragic that we have not been able to stop them. But It would be shameful if we were not able to guarantee justice for the victims and their loved ones. Those responsible for the atrocities being committed in Ukraine, wherever they are, must be held accountable,” he said.

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