Violence, rhetoric, hate speech lead to atrocity crimes in Ukraine and beyond, Security Council hears |

Beginning his talk with a broader perspective, Wairimu Nderitu said the hateful and contentious narratives forming as a result of growing hostility, violence and discrimination could have a “devastating impact” on societies in their midst. together.

“We saw it as the Holocaust approached, in Rwanda in 1994” and also in the ethnically charged conflict in Bosnia between Muslims, Serbs and Croats in the mid-1990s, she said, recalling that “Ending wars requires sustained action”. , including tackling acrimonious rhetoric, online and offline hate speech and rights violations that impact lives and livelihoods.

counter hate

The senior UN official said that the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which in 1948, “coming out of the shadow of the Holocaust”, identifies as punishable offences, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempted genocide and complicity in the genocide.

“This is done with full respect for the essential right to freedom of expression as provided for in international human rights law,” she said.

Ukraine in the spotlight

Addressing Ukraine in particular, Ms. Nderitu underscored the important role of the region and the international in resolving the ongoing humanitarian crisis and stressed the importance for all States to adhere to human rights. human rights and international humanitarian law and principles.

The Special Adviser recalled the Secretary-General’s visit to the region, his call for a cessation of hostilities and the work of his office to support community dialogue efforts with the United Nations country team there.

Meanwhile, “the continuing deterioration of the situation” prompted the special adviser to urge all those in a position of influence to “redouble their efforts to contribute to the restoration of peace”.

She called on religious leaders to use their influence to support efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict, not to inflame it further and recalled that the call for national, racial or religious hatred which constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited by international law. .

The solution is possible with everyone’s commitment UN Special Advisor

“We have to work harder”

Regarding allegations that could constitute the possible commission of genocide and war crimes in Ukraine, she said this could only be decided “by a competent court”, adding that her office “does not conduct ‘criminal investigations into specific incidents, present or past’.

While the role of the special adviser is to prevent and not to rule, she again called for “an end to this war, to ensure the protection of civilians and to accelerate diplomatic efforts to make both possible”.

“Prevention focuses on the future, and the past as well, and the wave of hostility in response to this war means we have to work harder to protect everyone,” she said.

She urged the Council and relevant parties to “articulate an inclusive vision, come up with a roadmap…that is not indifferent to injustice”.

If a “solution is possible with the commitment of everyone”, she however recalled that with each prolonged delay “the escalation of human suffering continues”.

Dehumanizing Ukrainians

Liubov Tsybulska, head of the Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security, a think tank set up by the Ukrainian government, said “thousands” of evidence now pointed to Russian war crimes.

She also cited “genocidal rhetoric” gleaned from Russian media that branded Ukraine a “fake nation” that doesn’t “deserve to exist”.

Recalling Soviet-era tactics to starve the enemy, she accused Russia of “bringing starvation” and said some Russian troops expressed “pride and approval” at abuses.

Ms Tsybulska pointed to what she called efforts to destroy Ukrainian culture and wondered, “Why do Russians hate us?”

Cyber ​​front

Jared Cohen, CEO of Jigsaw and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the US Council of Foreign Relations, spoke in depth about cyber warfare and how it was fought during the war in Ukraine.

“Like air, land and sea, the internet has become a critical domain to occupy during the war,” he said, describing what Ukraine has been through so far, as “a ball of crystal of what is likely to happen” in the future.

It focused on “attack vectors”, including critical infrastructure, via “traditional hacking”; distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks or malicious attempts to disrupt normal site traffic; and medium and large scale attacks – or “microfloods” – which can significantly increase the complexity of attacks.

Cohen pointed to online efforts aimed at undermining Ukraine’s government and leadership.

As an example, “false fakes of an alleged cocaine addiction were used to give in and fuel a harassment campaign against the president [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy” to undermine his credibility, in an effort to swing support for Russia, he said.


A woman walks through a tunnel at a metro station in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where people are taking shelter from the conflict above.

© UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson

A woman walks through a tunnel at a metro station in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where people are taking shelter from the conflict above.

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