20 December 2016
New York, NY (UCCA) -- On Monday, December 19th, the United Nations General Assembly voted 70 to 26 to adopt a resolution condemning human rights abuses in Crimea and urging Russia to allow UN monitors unimpeded access to the Ukrainian peninsula. The resolution marked the first time that the Russian Federation was named by the Assembly as an occupying power and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (hereinafter “Crimea”) as “temporarily occupied territory”. Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 70 voted in favor, 26 voted against and 77 abstained.
Adoption of the resolution, in which the United Nations reaffirmed the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, is welcomed by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the largest representation of Americans of Ukrainian descent. However, in welcoming the resolution’s passage, UCCA President Andriy Futey underscored that, “The 26 nay votes represent all the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) with the exception of Azerbaijan, Moldova and of course Ukraine, and thus, UCCA calls on the government of Ukraine to withdraw from the CIS.” Since 1993, Ukraine has been an Associate Member of the CIS, a regional organization created by 12 former Soviet republics upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union. With legislation denouncing the CIS agreement languishing in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada since being introduced in 2014, it is high time that the largest nation in Europe formally cut ties with its neighboring oppressor. Ukraine never ratified the CIS charter in 1993, assuming a status of both belonging to the CIS Executive Committee as a founding member, and yet not participating in all CIS activities. “We applaud President Poroshenko terminating Ukraine’s participation in the CIS Executive Committee as well as those legislative reformers looking to bring up establishing a bilateral visa regime with nations such as Russia, which has committed numerous acts of terrorism against Ukraine and the international community since the military takeover of Crimea began over 1,000 days ago,” Futey concluded.
While UN General Assembly resolutions are non-binding as to their acceptance by member states, the resolution adopted on December 19th requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a dedicated thematic report on the situation of human rights in Crimea. UCCA commends the General Assembly’s condemnation of the abuses and practices of discrimination against the residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea, including the indigenous Crimean Tatars, as well as Ukrainians and persons belonging to other ethnic and religious groups. Russia’s indiscriminate detention of Ukrainian citizens, as well as their decision to ban the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, should be reversed immediately per this request by the international community.