HRC54 – Item 2 – General Debate – Statement by Estonia to be delivered by H.E. Ambassador Riia Salsa-Audiffren 13 September 2023

Distinguished High Commissioner,

Mr President,

Estonia fully aligns with the statement delivered by the European Union.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was an important and historic moment and the ideas and the spirit that led to its adoption are still relevant today – international human rights and humanitarian law are essential parts of international peace and security.

And yet, Russia´s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has lasted more than 550 days and has caused global human rights and humanitarian crisis. Intensified hostilities since early August have resulted in a rapid deterioration of the already dramatic conditions faced by thousands of civilians living in the front-line communities.

Russia has also pursued his policy of mass abduction of Ukrainian children to Russia and Belarus. Disturbingly, these actions include indoctrination and training aimed at erasing the children’s Ukrainian cultural heritage and identity. We must stop this brutal war and bring perpetrators to justice. Estonia commends all ongoing investigations of human rights violations and international crimes committed by Russia and reiterates the need for the establishment of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression by the UN.

By allowing Russia to use the territory of Belarus for Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, the leadership of Belarus is responsible for the act of the aggression. Moreover, the evidence confirms that Belarusian authorities have orchestrated systematic large-scale actions to forcibly deport Ukrainian children to Belarus, which makes Lukashenka directly responsible for this despicable war crime.

The situation of human rights in many parts of the world remains challenging. We express our concerns over the human rights situations in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Sudan and refer to previous Nordic-Baltic statements in respective Interactive Dialogues.

Thank you!