Delegates to the United Nations Human Rights Council say Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused decades of progress to be "reined back and even reversed." They want to extend a mission investigating atrocities.
Delegates of the 47 member states on the council now met on Monday in Geneva. They will grapple with a range of rights issues in meetings through the beginning of April. Most want to find a way to stop the attacks on Ukrainian civilians.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, "Unfortunately, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which should be our common blueprint, is too often misused and abused." He said some exploit the declaration "for political gain."
Guterres said this disregard for human rights should serve as a "wake-up call." He said investigators in Ukraine have documented sexual violence, arbitrary detention and "enforced disappearances."
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, "This is why it is crucial for this council to prolong the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry and to empower it to investigate the cases." She said Ukrainian children have also been abducted. She said "impunity prevents justice."
Last March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed the gathering online, and delegates walked out. The next month, members of the General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the council. Lavrov's deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, will address delegates in person on Thursday, as an observer.