President of Ukraine

There must be a single legal front that will overcome Russia's genocidal policy - President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech at "UA: Human Rights in Dark Times" International Conference in Kyiv

9 December 2022 - 15:26

There must be a single legal front that will overcome Russia's genocidal policy - President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech at

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Dear colleagues!

Dear attendees, guests!

Dear journalists!

It is good that today there is a format of such an important Conference, exactly today - on International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime and on the eve of Human Rights Day.

On December 9, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. And the next day, on December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 74 years, the norms of these and many other similar documents have united the world community. More than 150 countries have become parties to the Genocide Convention. More than 190 countries have endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But is the world really united around the ideas that were the basis of these documents? As a matter of fact, there was no such unification around ideas, around values. We felt it after the beginning of the Russian war against people, humanity, against our state. Against all living things.

We felt that many things that should work and protect against such a genocidal policy existed rather as, pardon, a formality. As a legacy from the old days that was simply dusted off when it was time for the annual celebrations.

But now we are changing that. Together with everyone who today helps us, Ukraine and Ukrainians. And we are changing that not only for ourselves. This is a very important point. Again - for people, for humanity, for life.

Every time we unite the world to protect Ukraine, to protect Ukrainians, every time we achieve decisions on the implementation of fundamental international norms, every time we manage to fill international institutions and rules with real power and energy, we achieve results - for Ukrainians and great results for the whole world. For everyone who may be threatened by this or that form of aggression. This or that manifestation of genocidal policy. This or that strike of terror.

Defending ourselves against Russia now, we are turning the words of many conventions and declarations into concrete actions for the sake of people and, again, for the sake of humanity.

By saving Ukrainians from Russia, we give hope to many other people, many other communities, other nations who feel that the same aggression could be launched against them.

Working to bring the Russian Federation to just responsibility for aggression, for war crimes, for acts of its genocidal policy, we are creating mechanisms for the implementation of the norms of international law, which will actually serve to prevent international crimes and establish justice for decades after the end of this war, after our victory - the victory of Ukraine and the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

That is why we need the broadest possible cooperation. Both in our society and at the international level.

The crimes of the Russian state on the territory of Ukraine and specifically against Ukrainians are unprecedented since World War II. Ukrainian cities, our towns, our villages, which the Russian artillery simply crashes into stones... Not one, not two - but dozens of such destroyed cities and villages.

Aviation and missile terror, strikes by the Russian Federation, which are so reminiscent of the Nazi bombing of Britain and London. Of all the missiles launched by the Russian army since February 24, 62% were directed specifically against civilian objects, against people, against humanity.

And there are also filtration camps. Real, modern torture chambers and mass burials of people were revealed. Forced deportation of Ukrainians to Russia - more than 2 million people were deported. Illegal adoption by Russian families of our Ukrainian children who were actually kidnapped from Ukraine. Criminal mobilization of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories into the occupation army. Mine terror against Ukrainians. Constant shelling, victims in the border area with the Russian Federation and in the frontline areas...

All this is such a terrible scale of crimes committed and the destinies and lives of people destroyed. All this is a tragedy of such magnitude.

To restore justice, our state needs the maximum possible cooperation of everyone - cooperation with the human rights community, with all international partners. There must be a single legal front that will overcome Russia's genocidal policy.

And that is why, addressing you and every day, I call on all government officials and all representatives of civil society who care about people, who care about humanity, representatives of various organizations, representatives of international human rights organizations, agencies to work now in a coordinated manner, together at all levels, together - for the sake of restoring the rights of people violated by the war, the rights of Ukrainians and for bringing the aggressor to justice, mandatory and fair. We have to find such a formula for cooperation, so that there is a maximum result for our state and for the international legal order.

And I am glad that Chris Field is present among us today - it’s my pleasure, good afternoon - President of the International Ombudsman Institute, a representative of a system whose potential can provide much more for the protection of human rights for Ukraine.

Let me explain what I mean. For example, the Ukrainian Ombudsman, Mr. Dmytro Lubinets, is now very actively involved in the work of our joint team - Budanov, Yermak, Malyuk - regarding the release of our prisoners of war, the release of our civilians held captive in Russia or in temporarily occupied territories. We have already managed to return 1,331 Ukrainian warriors. And I am very proud of this result of our country. Protecting people wherever they are - we have to bring everyone back. This is our duty.

And at a time when, to put it mildly, we do not see determination and concrete actions in the relevant processes from such organizations as the International Committee of the Red Cross, we have to search and find new people in new realities, new formats of interaction, new lines of cooperation. Perhaps this system - the system of ombudsmen and the international component of cooperation in this system will be able to bring us closer to the result we strive for - the return home of all Ukrainians: adults, children, prisoners of war, political prisoners - all those forcibly detained in the territory of the Russian Federation and temporarily occupied territories of our country. It's worth at least a try. I think so. We have to try to make efforts every day, because all these are steps forward to victory.

Until recently, many did not believe that the ratification of one of the fundamental documents for the protection of human rights and equality of all communities, the Istanbul Convention, was possible in Ukraine. Now it is a reality in Ukraine - the convention has been ratified.

Until recently, many people said that Ukraine would allegedly not be able to obtain the status of a candidate for joining the European Union. Now it is a reality. We have become closer to European institutions. I am also proud of it. I am proud of all the people who worked for such results.

Until recently, talks dominated Europe that the European Union would allegedly not be able to really unite to protect our common interests, common values, our people... Until recently, skepticism about UN structures was spreading in the world. Today, we see that the European Union is capable of being truly strong and united. And the power of the UN can be directed to solve real problems - we are talking about global problems, such as the food crisis. This is what happens when we take up the cause together, when our state, Ukraine, takes up the cause.

We must always keep faith in ourselves and our partners. We must be absolutely determined, principled, we must be open to cooperation with everyone who also values determination and principles. This is how we will get all the results we so desperately need for Ukraine, for Europe, and for humanity.

A Special Tribunal for the crime of aggression by the Russian Federation against the state of Ukraine must be established. And I call on all of you to do everything so that the maximum majority in the UN General Assembly supports the corresponding draft resolution in order to establish this desired and necessary justice.

A compensation mechanism must also be launched to provide compensation for all losses at the expense of the assets of the aggressor, at the expense of the Russian Federation, for all those who suffered from this war of Russia against Ukraine. The relevant resolution is endorsed by the UN General Assembly, and I ask everyone to contribute to its maximum implementation.

All Russian murderers, all those who organized and implemented this genocidal policy and terror must be brought to justice. For this purpose, I urge you to cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor General, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, with our partners who are investigating the crimes of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and with the International Criminal Court.

I am sure that together we will implement absolutely all of this - we will ensure justice for Ukraine, for each and every one.

I thank everyone who works for the sake of Ukrainians! For the sake of life.

Glory to all our heroic strong warriors!

Eternal memory to everyone whose life was taken by Russian terror!

Glory to Ukraine!

Thank you.


Participation of the President of Ukraine in "UA: Human Rights in Dark Times" International Conference in Kyiv

9 December 2022 - 14:54