Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehris, for her presentation, and I have taken note of Mr. Kipshidze's remarks. The work of the Office of the High Commissioner is crucial and enjoys Switzerland's full support. The documentation work of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine is essential for preventing violations, strengthening the rule of law and ensuring accountability.

Switzerland attaches great importance to freedom of religion and belief. On several occasions, we have emphasized the obligations arising from international human rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Everyone must be able to exercise his or her rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and to freedom of religion without discrimination. 

Switzerland stresses the importance of the link between human rights and peace and security. We call on all governments to respect their obligations so that every individual can enjoy his or her fundamental rights and freedoms. Any measures restricting the right to manifest one's religion or beliefs must be provided for by law, serve a legitimate public interest and be necessary and proportionate.

Mr. President,

Nothing can justify Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, which for over 20 months has been causing immeasurable suffering far beyond the battlefield. The Assistant Secretary-

General's briefing testifies once again to the gravity and extent of the damage caused to civilians since the start of Russia's military aggression.

We condemn Russia's repeated air strikes, which are causing not only painful loss of life but also heavy material destruction, including of religious sites and objects. We recall the protection afforded to places of worship and religious practices under international humanitarian law. Switzerland reiterates its deep concern at the serious violations of human rights, particularly in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.

In order to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, we once again call on Russia to immediately cease its military aggression against Ukraine.

Mr President,

Switzerland remains fully committed to supporting serious efforts to promote peace, in accordance with the UN Charter. We notably call on the responsibility of religious institutions and dignitaries to also commit themselves to the promotion of peaceful coexistence and reconciliation.

I thank you.