Council of Europe decision to restore Russia’s membership an affront to human rights and international order
The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) rebukes the Council of Europe’s decision to restore full rights to the Russian Federation in the Council, despite Russia’s continued ongoing military aggression against Ukraine, violations of international law, and human rights abuses in Ukraine, Russia and around the world.
The reinstatement of the Russian Federation’s voting rights in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is an affront to human rights and the rules-based international order. The decision restores the Russian delegation’s voting rights, allowing members of the Russian delegation to once again lead committees and to participate in PACE’s governing bodies.
The UWC calls on the Council of Europe to hold the Russian Federation to the standards set forth in the Statute of the Council of Europe and to impose additional sanctions on Russia for, among other things, Moscow’s military aggression against Ukraine near the Strait of Kerch in the Black Sea. Russia continues the illegal detainment of Ukrainian ships and sailors, despite the May 2019 decision by the United Nations Tribunal for the Law of the Sea declaring that Russian authorities must release the detained Ukrainian sailors by June 25, 2019.
UWC reiterates its condemnation of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, including Russia’s direct violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and Helsinki Accords in using threat and force against the territorial integrity in Eastern Ukraine and military occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
By reinstating the Russian Federation’s full membership in PACE, the Council contradicted its own positions, including:
- In April 2014, in response to the occupation of Ukraine, PACE declared that the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation violated the Statute of the Council of Europe and Russia’s commitments to the Council;
- The 2014 Council of Europe Resolution #1990 suspending Russia’s voting rights, the right to be represented in the Assembly’s leading bodies, and the right to participate in election observation missions;
- March 27, 2014, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 68/292 calling for states and international organizations to continue to recognize Crimea as a part of Ukraine;
- The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission (March 2019) reported human rights violations in Crimea against the Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and non-Russian Orthodox religious minorities by the Russian Federation, as the occupying Power in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol;
- Resolution 2034 (2015), the Council of Europe called upon the Russian authorities to reverse the illegal annexation of Crimea, investigate allegations of human rights abuses, disband all paramilitary within the region, and reverse the closure of the Crimean Tatar television channel, ATR.
“It is deplorable that the Russian Federation, which ignores the rulings of international bodies, conducts a destructive foreign policy and murders or intimidates its political opposition, can be a member of the Council of Europe whose mission is to support peace and cooperation in Europe and human rights and freedoms,” stated UWC President Paul Grod. “Returning Russia to PACE without fulfilling any of the Council of Europe’s demands significantly weakens the Council’s enforcement capabilities and provides Russia with a green light for further violations of international law and the principles of the Council of Europe. This decision will only encourage Russia’s continued aggressive policies towards Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and other countries in the region.”