The lifeless body of a man with his hands tied behind his back lies on the ground in Bucha, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022. Associated Press reporters in Bucha, a small town northwest of kyiv, saw the bodies of at least nine people. in civilian clothes who appeared to have been killed at point-blank range.
Bradley A. Freden
Acting Permanent Representative of the United States
April 21, 2022
Thank you, Madam Chair. Let me start by saluting the leadership of Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala on this resolution, as well as all the others who have co-sponsored this resolution.
The impact of the Kremlin’s unprovoked and exceptionally brutal war against Ukraine is clear. Thousands of civilians killed, more than six million Ukrainians internally displaced and four million Ukrainians who fled the country. Each of these more than 10 million people harbors individual stories of hardship and tragedy.
We cannot remain silent in the face of the atrocities committed by Russia and its flagrant violations of international humanitarian law. The horror is with go: civilians flee to save their life; brutal and relentless shelling of civilian targets, including schools, hospitals, orphanages, humanitarian corridors and other critical civilian infrastructure. Mass graves filled with Ukrainian civilians, many of whom have their hands tied. Rape as a weapon of war. Every day brings more gruesome images to our television screens.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin said on March 23 that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine. It is not a term we use lightly, and the decision to do so was made after careful consideration of all the evidence. Unfortunately, that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. Russia does not give the world any visibility on the areas it occupies. However, it damages credibility to think that the Russian forces have changed their ways since being driven out of Bucha without having had time to hide their crimes.
Excellencies, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, we must hold the Kremlin and its facilitators accountable for this brutal and inhumane war. As President Biden has said, “An overwhelming majority of nations recognize that Putin is not just attacking Ukraine, he is attacking the very foundations of global peace and security – and everything the United Nations stands for. By extension, the president’s words also mean “all that the Organization of American States stands for.”
That is why we strongly support the adoption of this resolution. The case is clear and the need for action is urgent. The OAS sends a message to the Russian government that its actions violate international law, including international humanitarian law, and are totally contrary to the values of OAS member states and this institution. The OAS action today sends a message to Russia that it must end hostilities, withdraw its forces and respect international law.
I predict Russia’s response will be to mock this action, just as it has mocked and belittled the OAS numerous times in recent weeks. Why would anyone expect anything else? Russia considered itself an imperial power in the 19and-century model. Its attempt to conquer Ukraine is nothing short of naked imperialism. Their statements denigrating the existence of a Ukrainian nation and asserting the right to govern Ukraine are clear proof of this.
Even the Orwellian term they use to describe their war of aggression – Putin calls it “a special military operation” – implies that they see war as an internal affair. We may never know if Putin and his advisers were truly blind to the existence of a sovereign and independent Ukrainian nation-state or if they simply indulged in bloodthirsty cynicism in an attempt to justify their crimes. In the end, it doesn’t matter.
Putin has made it clear in his statements and actions that he will devastate Ukraine unless the Ukrainian people lay down their arms and accept Russia’s demands for incorporation into the revived Russian Empire he calls ” Russkiy mir”.
Today’s action to suspend Russia’s observer status with the OAS is important to ensure our own consistency with what is fair and just, legal and acceptable. In doing so, we show our respect and support for human rights and international humanitarian law, and we uphold the OAS Charter. We could not remain silent in the face of Russia’s brutal attack on a peaceful, sovereign country, a member of the international community, a country whose only ‘crime’, if you can call it that, was choosing its own way and refuse to submit to Moscow’s dictate.
Our action signals to Russia that the world is watching. The Kremlin and its enablers will be held accountable for atrocities such as those we have seen in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities temporarily occupied by Russian forces.
Our action today highlights a horrifying reality, calling on the Russian government to use unnecessary and unlawful force and to disregard humanitarian law in total disregard. We – the OAS – cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
We cannot continue business as usual – at the OAS or elsewhere – while Russia pursues a barbaric war of aggression against a sovereign neighbor, while issuing apocalyptic threats against anyone who asks Russia to cease its attacks on international peace and security.
Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, today’s resolution would have merit even if its only result were to show that we will not be associated with the actions of a permanent observer which go against our values and principles collectives. We have the right to decide who we break bread with, and as long as we Russia have Ukrainian blood on our hands, they are not welcome at our table.
To the people of Ukraine, know that we stand with you as you face this brutal assault on your sovereignty and freedom. We all hope to match your courage.
Thank you Madam President
Adopted by the Permanent Council on April 21, 2022 with the following vote:
In favor (25): Antigua and Barbuda; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Dominica; Ecuador; United States; Grenada; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic; St. LUCIA; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Uruguay, Venezuela.
Withheld (8): Argentina, Bolivia; Brazil; El Salvador; Honduras; Mexico, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Away (1): Nicaragua
SUSPENSION OF PERMANENT OBSERVER STATUS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION TO THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
THE PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
RECALLING Permanent Council resolution CP/RES. 1192 (2371/22) “The crisis in Ukraine” of March 25, 2022;
ALARMED by the growing death toll and increasing displacement of people and also by the destruction of civilian infrastructure caused by the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and its ongoing war;
BUILT by reports of terrible atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities, as well as at Kramatorsk railway station;
EXPRESSING GRAVE CONCERN at the violation by the Russian Federation of international law, including international humanitarian law, in particular the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocol I of 1977;
NOTING the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly Suspension of membership rights of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council April 7and, 2022, by which the General Assembly suspended the rights of membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council; and
CONSIDERING the disregard by the Russian Federation of the urgings of the Organization of American States (OAS) to withdraw its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and the continued gross and systematic violations of human rights rights in Ukraine that contravene the principles and objectives of the OAS,
- To immediately suspend the status of the Russian Federation as permanent observer to the Organization of American States (OAS) in accordance with resolution AG/RES. 50 (I-0/71) and in accordance with resolution CP/RES. 407 (573/84) of this Council, until the Russian government ceases its hostilities, withdraws all its military forces and equipment from Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and returns to the path of dialogue and diplomacy.
- To request the Secretary General to notify the Russian Federation of the decision of the member states of the OAS.
- To remain seized of this matter and to examine, if necessary, whether the Russian Federation has fulfilled the conditions set out in operative paragraph 1 for its reinstatement as a permanent observer.
- To instruct the Secretary General of the OAS to transmit this resolution to the Secretary General of the United Nations.