Human Rights Violations in the Ukraine Conflict: "Western Values Under Pressure"

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: June 9, 2022; 13:17 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Covid-19 crisis and the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine have recently led to a worrying increase in human rights violations. The human rights situation in Ukraine, as well as in the rest of the world, was recently the focus of the Human Rights Committee in the Austrian Parliament. Read on to learn more.

The Covid-19 crisis and the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine led to an increase in human rights violations. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, CC BY 2.0 (

The catastrophic human rights situation in Ukraine caused by Russia's war of aggression, was the focus of a recent debate between members of the Human Rights Committee and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

The meeting pointed out that, as is so often the case in armed conflicts, human rights are coming under pressure around the world. Especially in Eastern Europe, the conflict in Ukraine worsens the human rights situation.

In addition, other crisis regions should not be forgotten. The Western community of values must stand up resolutely for human rights in this situation, Schallenberg stressed.

On the agenda of the committee was also a report by the Foreign Minister on the fight against human trafficking, which is an issue that the Austrian government has often dealt with intensively. Vindobona reported.

In an opening statement, Foreign Minister Schallenberg said that human rights are under increasing pressure internationally. In recent years, he said, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the human rights situation.

Now, he said, the focus is on Russia's attack on Ukraine, which is contrary to international law, with the atrocities against the civilian population that have since become known.

The conflict is not limited to Europe, he said, but is sending shock waves internationally. The obstruction of exports of agricultural products from Ukraine endangers the basic supply of millions of people and thus has a human rights dimension.

President Putin has thus sidelined his country internationally, Schallenberg said. Russia's exclusion from the Council of Europe and the suspension of its membership in the Human Rights Council are the logical consequence, he said. However, according to Schallenberg, platforms for international cooperation are still needed, not least in order to be able to confront Russia's representatives with the consequences of their actions.

Austria actively supports the efforts of the OSCE and the Commission of Inquiry of the UN Human Rights Council in uncovering and documenting war crimes, as well as the efforts of the International Criminal Court in securing evidence and prosecution, Schallenberg stressed.

The war is also worsening the human rights situation in Russia, where civil society and the media are coming under increasing pressure, he said.

The same applies to Belarus, where there are now more than 1,200 political prisoners. Journalists, in particular, are increasingly threatened in the exercise of their work, and Austria therefore supports the development of an action plan for the protection of journalistic freedom of expression.

Schallenberg said that the Ukraine conflict should not be overlooked, as there are numerous other trouble spots with massive human rights violations. In Afghanistan, the situation of women and children under the Taliban regime continues to deteriorate.

More and more shocking facts are becoming known about China's treatment of minorities, especially the situation of the Uyghurs. Unfortunately, the UN has so far failed to make a clear statement on this issue, the Foreign Minister said, expressing his disappointment. China is also systematically trying to question individual human rights and to push its own concept of human rights.

As a result, the human rights discourse is becoming increasingly polarized, he said, and the Western states are now a small minority in the world of states with their views of freedom and democracy. This makes a self-confident stance all the more important. In any case, human rights would remain the basic and guiding principle of Austria's foreign policy, the Foreign Minister stressed.

Austrian Parliament