News article

Human Rights Council, Geneva : UK Statement, General Debate on Ukraine, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 26 March 2014

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK welcomes the ability of the High Commissioner and her office to deploy human rights support in a number of countries around the world. This work is vital for the protection and the promotion of human rights and must continue.

Thank you Mr President.

The UK supports the EU statement and the cross regional statement read out by the US.

The UK welcomes the ability of the High Commissioner and her office to deploy human rights support in a number of countries around the world. This work is vital for the protection and the promotion of human rights and must continue.

I would like in this General Debta to concentrate on two issues: the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Ukraine.

The UK welcomes the return to negotiations between Israel and Palestine, and we stand ready to do all we can to support this process. However, the UK remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the frequent demolition by the Israeli authorities of Palestinian property; the continued building of illegal Israeli settlements; and the use of force in dealing with Palestinian protests.

We also remain deeply concerned by Israeli movement and access restrictions on Gaza. Within Gaza we are concerned about reported restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as continued use of the death penalty. We urge all parties to ensure that they respect and prioritise human rights, which will be necessary to ensure a sustainable peace.

We call upon the international community to stand strong with Ukraine at this time. The UK does not recognise the referendum, which took place in Crimea on 16 March, nor its outcome. We, along with the vast majority of the international community, consider the referendum to be illegal and illegitimate. We condemn the fact that this referendum has taken place, in breach of the Ukrainian constitution and in defiance of calls by the international community for restraint. Russia has said its approach was motivated by human rights concerns. It is difficult to see how that is consistent with scuttling ships and storming bases. We look to them to protect the rights of the 42% of citizens in Crimea who are not of Russian origin and who are now a minority within their own land.

The UK looks to the new Ukrainian government to implement an inclusive process to ensure free and fair elections, allowing the Ukrainian people the opportunity to decide their own future, and advance constitutional reform. All human rights violations and acts of violence need to be properly investigated. We call on the Ukrainian authorities to reach out to all Ukrainian regions and population groups and to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

The UK urges Russia to work towards a peaceful and negotiated solution, in full respect of its bilateral and multilateral commitments to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Thank you.