Mr. President,

Since their inception thirty years ago, Arria Formula meetings have allowed Council members to receive expert advice and information informally, outside the Council chamber. This format was never intended to spread disinformation, distort realities on the ground or promote a politically biased narrative.

Russia's selection of speakers today clearly runs counter to this initial objective. We reject the participation of so-called representatives of the "Donetsk People's Republic" as well as a person under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and for whom an arrest warrant has been issued. We recall UN General Assembly resolution ES-11/4 and reaffirm our unequivocal commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. Russia's attempted annexations have no validity and constitute serious violations of international law. Our presence here today should not be interpreted as recognition of such a change in status.

Our participation in this meeting is intended to express our strong opposition to some of the claims made today.

In this context, we recall the following facts:

The Russian military aggression against Ukraine has resulted in intolerable suffering for children. Switzerland is deeply worried by cases of unlawful deportations and transfers of children, which the Independent Commission of Inquiry found to be war crimes. We urge Russia to immediately implement the recommendations of this Commission, including by providing reliable information on deported or transferred children, facilitating communication between them and their families, and proactively initiating their return to Ukraine.

International human rights law and international humanitarian law grant special protection to children. Switzerland stresses the importance of the international obligations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention and the First Additional Protocol. We call on Russia to immediately comply with its obligations under international law.

Switzerland reiterates its full support for the ICC as an independent and impartial judicial institution. We strongly support the Court's crucial efforts in the fight against impunity, including through independent investigations in various situations.

The Security Council has made the protection of children an essential aspect of international peace and security. The best way to protect children is the absence of violence. Switzerland therefore continues to strongly condemn the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, and calls on Russia to withdraw its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine without delay.

I thank you for your attention.