Thank you Mr President,
Switzerland condemns the recent Russian strikes against Odesa as well as other regions. We will address this subject in greater detail during the next session. The serious damage suffered by the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa on Sunday gives this meeting a sad sense of urgency.
Switzerland remains deeply concerned about the violations of international humanitarian law and the grave human rights violations resulting from the Russian military aggression. We join High Commissioner Volker Türk in deploring the appalling price of war.
Concerning freedom of religion and belief, I recall the obligations under international human rights law, including those set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Everyone must be able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and religion without discrimination. Freedom of religion and belief protects the individual, not religions or religious communities. Any measure restricting the right to manifest one's religion or belief must be prescribed by law, serve a legitimate public interest, and be necessary and proportionate.
I also reiterate Switzerland's opposition to the dissemination of hate speech and to any form of defamation or discrimination based on religion. We call on religious institutions and dignitaries to commit themselves to a rhetoric of peace and reconciliation.
Switzerland calls for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, in accordance with international law, in particular the UN Charter. We once again call on Russia to cease its combat operations and to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay.
I thank you.