Human Rights in Ukraine: UPR side-event with Civil Society and Ombudsperson

Nov 27, 2017

Photo credit: Stéphanie St-Laurent Brassard / UNDP in Ukraine

In November 2017, Ukraine underwent its 3rd Universal Periodic Review of human rights at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. With this occasion, the United Nations Development Program supported a number of civil society organizations and the Ukrainian Ombudsperson in organizing a side-event to discuss the challenges that the country has faced since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity and the onset of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

As delegations from several countries were gathering at the Palais des Nations, the Human Right Commissioner (also known as Ombudsperson), Valeryia Lutkovska, drew attention to the National Human Rights Strategy implementation. She presented the results of the Human Rights Baseline study and outlined people’s awareness and perceptions of human right issues in the country. “The human right that Ukrainians assign the highest priority to, as a matter of personal significance, is the right to life”, said the Ombudsperson.

Justice for Peace in Donbas is a coalition of civil society organizations. Their representative Volodymyr Shcherbachenko spoke at the event about ill-detention conditions, sexual violence perpetrated in eastern Ukraine, and involvement of children in armed groups. Together with statistics, pictures and video testimonies, Mr Shcherbachenko also presented a number of recommendations for authorities to comply with international legislation and protect and prevent vulnerable groups affected by the conflict.

Concerns raised during the discussions were in several cases linked to the country’s instability. This includes loss of citizenship, administrative problems for the estimated 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and lack of access to public services such as housing, as noted by the representative of the Commissioner for the observance of the right of the IDPs, Zhanna Lukyanenko. A representative of the NGO ‘’Group of Influence’’, Tetyana Durnyeva, emphasized the importance of IDPs public participation and active involvement as leaders in their community, advocating for their right to vote to be recognized. 

Finally, as the government is going through highly-mediatized judicial reforms, people are demanding for an end to impunity, especially related to corruption crimes. Civil societies organizations such as the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union are suggesting to involve civil actors in the transitional justice and law enforcement process. “Consolidated efforts of the state and civil society sector could lead to creating a joint, nation-wide database establishing a comprehensive and objective record of the human right situation in Ukraine”, said Ksenia Semyorkina of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

Back ground information:

This informational meeting was organized by the Ombudsperson Office in collaboration with the United Development Program funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. 

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