A Russian soldier patrols in front of wide tall windows in the Mariupol Philharmonic Hall..

Switzerland: Urgent need for support to protect socio-economic rights in Ukraine

State delegates at next week’s Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, should demonstrate their support for the people of Ukraine by ensuring that the sustainable financial and technical support necessary to protect their rights is immediately available, Amnesty International said today.

During the conference, which takes place on 4 and 5 July, Ukraine will present its recovery plan to its international partners, including representatives from 40 states and 18 international organizations. As well as killing and injuring thousands of people in Ukraine and uprooting millions from their homes, Russia’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine has been catastrophic for economic and social rights. It has left many people without adequate access to housing, water, and sanitation, sparked widespread unemployment, and caused severe environmental damage throughout Ukraine.

“As the international community comes together to explore ways of helping Ukraine recover, the human rights of people in Ukrainian must be front and centre of discussions. The socio-economic rights of people in Ukrainian have been violated on a cataclysmic scale – at least 10 million people are in need of food and livelihood assistance, and more than half of all Ukrainian businesses have been forced to close, severely undermining their access to an adequate standard of living,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Director of Amnesty Ukraine.

“With the Russian offensive ongoing, Ukraine’s international partners will need to look for novel and urgent solutions to support people in Ukraine to access their rights. For their part, the Ukrainian authorities must work closely with humanitarian organizations and others to address gaps in protection for the most marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities, children and older people, and those who are displaced or living in poverty.”

Once the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine was a major source of staple food for many countries across the Middle East and Africa. As well as causing widespread food insecurity in Ukraine, the war has choked food supplies and caused prices to rise in many countries all over the world. It has also had a devastating impact on the environment, using huge quantities of fossil fuels, destroying habitats and causing forest fires, and polluting Ukraine’s air, water and soil with toxic substances.

The international community should support Ukraine’s recovery by providing financial and technical assistance, in line with states’ obligations around international cooperation and assistance. Any plans for re-building and recovery in Ukraine must be sustainable, appropriately funded, and have human rights at their centre. International assistance to Ukraine will inevitably need to be sustained for a considerable period of time.

Plans and financing for Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction must be consistent with human rights standards – this means they should be transparent, non-discriminatory, and developed in a consultative and participatory manner with the people affected.

“The Lugano conference will be the next measure of the international community’s professed solidarity with Ukraine,” said Oksana Pokalchuk.

“True recovery will not be possible until Russia’s war of aggression ends, but in the meantime, the international community must support the people of Ukraine by providing urgent assistance to help secure their economic and social rights.”