Mr. President, Switzerland remains deeply concerned about the grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law resulting from Russia's ongoing military aggression against Ukraine over the past 15 months. Switzerland condemns the recent rise in Russian air strikes in several regions of Ukraine. We are shocked by reports that these attacks have again killed and injured dozens of civilians. The devastating consequences of the war are also reflected in the numerous accounts of atrocities committed in Ukraine.

With regard to freedom of religion and belief, Switzerland reiterates its opposition to the propagation and dissemination of hate speech as well as to any other forms and manifestations of defamation or discrimination based on religion. We encourage interreligious and intercultural dialogue in order to promote peaceful coexistence. To this end, we call upon religious institutions and leaders to engage in building bridges by using a rhetoric of peace and reconciliation.

Switzerland recalls the obligations under international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. All persons must be able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and religion without discrimination. We reiterate our principled position that freedom of religion and belief protects the individual, not religions or religious communities. Any limitations on the right to manifest one's religion or belief must be prescribed by law, necessary and proportionate.

Human rights and international humanitarian law must be respected by all parties to the conflict and the principles of the UN Charter must be upheld. We thus call on Russia to de-escalate the situation immediately, to cease all hostilities and to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay.

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