Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

220407 - Eleventh emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly - Tenth plenary meeting: Statement on Ukraine


7 April 2022

Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Once again we find ourselves meeting at short notice to discuss the invasion of Ukraine. The unprovoked, unjustified and illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

This time we are spurred by the horrific images coming out of Bucha. Images that make it clear that Russia has committed egregious war crimes in Bucha and across Ukraine, including horrific acts such as executing and raping civilians. 

Images that make it clear something else must be done to deliver the message to Russia that this war, this aggression must stop.

Australia has voted in support of this resolution because being a voting member of the Human Rights Council is not consistent with invading a country and slaughtering its civilians. These are two things we know have happened.

And part from Russia, there is no country suggesting that there has not been an invasion. And part from Russia, there is no country suggesting that there has not been slaughter.

In fact, this has been confirmed in the Security Council, by the UN personnel delivering humanitarian assistance on the ground, and by the many officials and member states who have visited the region. 

Terrible things have happened, and the cause of these terrible things is Russia’s invasion and actions within Ukraine. As such, it was appropriate that Russia be suspended in real time from the Human Rights Council until it withdrew its forces.

Some have argued that we should wait until the various investigative processes and inquiries have been undertaken.  

Those processes will, of course, determine who specifically is responsible for what actions in this senseless war. And they will be held accountable for those actions. And the processes will appropriately take the time that they need.

But that’s not what suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council is about. This was about making it clear that being a voting member of the Human Rights Council is not consistent with Russia’s actions. Russia’s gross and systematic violations of human rights made a mockery of its membership of the Human Rights Council.

And we didn’t have the luxury of time to send a message. How many more civilians will be killed if we take our time in these matters? Russia needs to hear this message now and understand that its actions have consequences. If Russia cannot behave like a responsible voting member of the Human Rights Council, then it should not be entrusted with that privilege.

Once again, we call on Russia to stop. End this war, end this aggression. End this suffering. 

Let me again reiterate Australia’s strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, and Australia’s strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.