Statement by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa, on the Resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, 07 April 2022

Mr President,

South Africa is deeply concerned about the continuing conflict in Ukraine, the loss of lives and the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

We reiterate our view, that as a matter of urgency, there must be a cessation of hostilities, which would be the first step in a comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis.

South Africa stresses once again that dialogue, mediation and diplomacy is the only path to end the current conflict. Wars end when dialogues begins and wars endure when there is no dialogue.

In this regard, we welcome the efforts by Ukraine and Russia to hold talks without preconditions. South Africa expresses the hope that both parties will use diplomacy to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, leading to a durable political and security situation. We maintain that all parties have much to gain from a negotiated outcome and much to lose from unnecessary and violent conflict.

The General Assembly must therefore encourage mediation and dialogue and adopt constructive outcomes leading to that end.

Mr President,

South Africa is deeply concerned at the reports of civilian casualties in Ukraine. As the international community, we cannot be indifferent to the killing and suffering of civilians.

The humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the ongoing military operations must be addressed and there must be an urgent opening of humanitarian corridors and the provision of aid to the civilian population which, as usual, bears the brunt of the suffering when violent confrontation breaks out.

All parties to the conflict must comply with international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions and must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member states, in keeping with the UN Charter.

Mr President,

On 4 March 2022, the Human Rights Council adopted a Resolution authorising the establishment of an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international law, and related crimes in Ukraine. The Commission has not yet commenced its work and we await its findings on the allegations of gross violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.

South Africa is of the firm belief that the tabling of the resolution that we will consider today is premature and prejudges the outcomes of the Commission of Enquiry. We must allow the Commission to urgently undertake its mandate and report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on its outcomes.

It is also imperative that all parties to the conflict must allow the Commission to perform its duties without any hindrance and interference.

We recall Resolution 60/251, which is the basis of the resolution before us and which established the Human Rights Council, also recognises, inter alia, “the importance of ensuring universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues, and the elimination of double standards and politicization”. Unfortunately, the resolution that we are considering will further divide and polarise the matter and the General Assembly, without following due-process. South Africa maintains that in considering the suspension of a member of the Human Rights Council, we must be consistent and not selective as this would undermine the credibility of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.

For these reasons, South Africa will abstain on the resolution.

Thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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