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Russia: Joint submission for the fourth Universal Periodic Review, November 2023

November 11, 2023

The back of a man in a camo green bullet-proof vest standing the midst of rubble. His clothes are covered in dust. The man is holding an SLR camera in his left hand. .

On 13 November 2023, Russia is scheduled for review at the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). To inform this review process, eyeWitness to Atrocities, Insecurity Insight, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Ukrainian Healthcare Center filed a joint submission focusing on international humanitarian and human rights law concerns relating to health care since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

The submission’s concerns are based on attacks documented and analysed in our joint report,"Destruction and Devastation: One Year of Russia's Assault on Ukraine's Health Care System", released in February 2023.

Through a detailed analysis of attacks against ten hospitals allegedly perpetrated by Russian forces, the report indicates that Russia appears to have deliberately and indiscriminately targeted Ukraine’s health care system as part of a broader attack on its civilian population and infrastructure.The report relies on a variety of sources, including audiovisual evidence, photos taken with the eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app and regular cameras, site visits, interviews with health care providers, open-source research, and public reports from international fact-finding organisations.

Additionally, our jointly released interactive map shows the scale and extent of the destruction to Ukraine's health care system and the devastation that has occurred since the start of the full-scale invasion, with over 1000 documented incidents to date.

As a party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Additional Protocol I of 1977, and most major human rights instruments, Russia is bound to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights obligations (see legal framework in the report).

An analysis of selected attacks indicates that Russia has failed to respect and protect civilians and civilian objects, including the health care system, thereby violating applicable IHL rules and international human rights law. Specifically, the present submission for Russia’s UPR raises the following concerns:

  • Violations of IHL: Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on Ukraine’s health care system;
  • Violations of human rights in Russian-controlled territories: Torture and ill-treatment of those in captivity, including health care professionals, and deprivation of adequate medical care;
  • Impact of violations on Ukraine’s ability to ensure the respect, protection, and fulfilment of the human right to health of individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction.

Finally, the submission also provides recommendations to the Government of Russia for consideration for its follow-up on the preceding review.

The UPR is an innovation of the United Nations Human Rights Council, established in 2006 as a peer-review mechanism of the human rights situation in all UN Member States based on the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties ratified by the state concerned, voluntary pledges by the state, and international humanitarian law. States are reviewed every five years on the basis of information they provide, reports from UN entities, and submissions by civil society organisations. For more information, see:

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