On the occasion of the interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Ukraine, held at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 31st, IFOR’s main representative to the UN Ms. Zaira Zafarana took the floor in the plenary to express IFOR’s solidarity with all victims of the current war in Ukraine and expressed great concern for the violations of the right to conscientious objection to military service which is currently suspended in Ukraine, against international standards.
IFOR referred to the case of the first known imprisoned conscientious objector since the breaking of the current war, Vitalii Alexeenko and called on Ukraine for his release. Read more about this case here and here.
The statement mentioned other individual cases such as the ones of Hennadii Tomniuk and Andrii Vyshnevetsky, objectors under trial, the first one, and held in the army at the frontline, the second one.
Of particular concern is also the illegal detention of Russian objectors to war in the occupied territories by Russian forces.
IFOR focuses on the right to conscientious objection as a key right to advocate. This is one of the root of IFOR since 1914 and one personal commitment to exercise the right to peace and the right to life.
IFOR runs a thematic project funded by JRCT which facilitates all the implementation of actions and initiatives to report on this right to the UN, advocate for its implementation at the local level and to provide assistance to conscientious objectors everywhere.
Human Rights Council, 52nd Session
31st March 2023
Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Ukraine Oral statement delivered by International Fellowship Of Reconciliation
Mr. President, Mr. High Commissioner,
International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) thanks [the Office of the High Commissioner] for the oral update.
We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine who are suffering for the ongoing war of aggression by the Russian Federation, which is causing tragedies and violations and an inhumane nuclear threat. War should be abolished.
We stand in solidarity with those who courageously refuse to kill and call on the international community to ensure full legal guarantees of their human right to conscientious objection and to provide them protection and asylum.
The right to conscientious objection to military service should be protected and cannot be restricted as highlighted in the last OHCHR quadrennial thematic report.
The right to conscientious objection in Ukraineiii is currently suspended.
We call on Ukraine to release the prisoner of conscience Vitaly Alexeenko, jailedvi on February 23rd 2023.vii
We appeal for the acquittal of conscientious objector Hennadii Tomniuk.viii
We are greatly concerned for the case of Andrii Vyshnevetsky, a conscientious objector held in the army, at the frontline who should be discharged on the grounds of conscience.ix
It has been also reported that Kyiv regional military administration has decided to terminate the alternative service of tens of conscientious objectors and had ordered conscientious objectors to appear in military recruitment centres.
We are also concerned abut the forced detention of Russian refusers to war in the occupied territories, as highlighted in our recent joint press release.x
We call on this Council to guarantee the protection of all human rights, including the right to conscientious objection which is inherent in the right to freedom of conscience, thought and religion.