Conflicts & War

UN suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

United Nations, Apr 7 (EFE).- The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday voted to suspend Russia from the international body’s Human Rights Council in response to alleged abuses its armed forces are committing in Ukraine.

At the initiative of the United States and its allies, the General Assembly approved the measure in a 93-24 vote, with 58 abstentions.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council was created 16 years ago and only one other country has ever been suspended from it, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya in response to the repression of the 2011 protests in that country, although a few months later the country was readmitted to the council.

In the case of Russia, the US and its allies argued that Moscow cannot continue to participate in the council when it is “subverting every principle” of the body with its invasion of Ukraine and committing alleged atrocities against the civilian population in the war zone.

Ukrainian UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya introduced the resolution and urged member states to suspend Russia from the body, saying that Moscow has committed “horrific human rights violations and abuses that would be equated to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

“Russia’s actions are beyond the pale,” he said. “Russia is not only committing human rights violations, it is shaking the underpinnings of international peace and security.”

The diplomat warned that all member states that voting against the initiative would be equivalent to “pulling the trigger” on Ukrainian civilians and would be signaling “indifference” similar to that which in 1993 allowed the genocide in Rwanda.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday that “We believe that the members of the Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine, and we believe that Russia needs to be held accountable,” adding that “Russia’s participation on the Human Rights Council is a farce.”

The text of the measure obtained less support than earlier resolutions critical of Moscow that were voted on at the start of the war, which the Kremlin launched against the neighboring country on Feb. 24.

Besides the US and Ukraine, the countries of the European Union, Latin American nations such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay and other states including Australia, Canada, Turkey and Norway backed the measure.

Among the 24 countries voting against the measure were Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua and Syria.

Meanwhile, 58 states opted to abstain, including Brazil, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Although the possibility of excluding Russia from the Human Rights Council had been broached weeks ago, Washington decided to make the move to do so after learning of the alleged massacre in Bucha, a town near Kyiv, where Ukrainian authorities accuse Russian troops of killing hundreds of civilians, many of them apparently by summary execution and indiscriminately gunning them down on the streets.

Created in 2006 to replace the failed Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Council is the top UN organization in this area and includes 47 nations, who are selected to serve three-year terms.

Its makeup, which is determined in annual elections, has been regularly criticized for including states with very dubious histories in the area of protecting human rights.

Currently serving on the Human Rights Council, among other nations, are China, Cuba, Libya, the US, Ukraine and Venezuela. Russia, meanwhile, has been a regular member and was in the second year of its current three-year term.



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