United Nations Assembly expelled Russia from Human Rights Council

By Edith M. Lederer and Jennifer Peltz | The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations General Assembly voted on Thursday to suspend Russia from the world organization’s leading human rights body over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian troops in Ukraine, which the United States and Ukraine have called a war crime.

It was a rare, if not unprecedented rebuke against one of the five veto-holding members of the United Nations Security Council.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the vote “a historic moment”, telling the assembly: “We have collectively sent a strong message that the suffering of the victims and survivors will not be ignored” and called Russia “for no reason”. must be held accountable for the “unjust, unconscious war.”

Thomas-Greenfield launched a campaign to have Russia suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council after video and photos appeared on the streets with bodies of civilians in the city of Buka after Russian troops retreated. The deaths have sparked a global revolt and calls for tougher sanctions on Russia, which has denied that its troops were responsible.

Russia is only the second country whose membership rights in the Council have been taken away. Second, Libya was suspended by the Assembly in 2011 after turmoil in the North African country brought down longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council is tasked with spotlighting and approving investigations into rights violations, and it periodically reviews the human rights situation in all 193 UN member states.

It has created commissions of inquiry – which provide the highest level of investigation into rights violations and abuses – for conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, the Palestinian Territories and elsewhere. It has also established fact-finding missions in places such as Libya, Myanmar and Venezuela.

The US-initiated resolution to suspend Russia was 93-24 with 58 restraints, two adopted by the assembly last month demanding an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, the withdrawal of all Russian troops and protection for civilians. was much lower than the proposals. Both of those proposals were ratified by at least 140 countries.

Russia’s deputy ambassador Gennady Kuzmin said after the vote that Russia had withdrawn from the council even before the assembly action, apparently in anticipation of the outcome. By withdrawing, council spokesman Rolando Gómez said that Russia refrained from being stripped of observer status in the rights body.

Kuzmin said Russia considers the adoption of the proposal “an illegitimate and politically motivated move” by a group of countries with “short-term political and economic interests”, which he called “gross and massive violations of human rights”. was accused of.

The 47-member Human Rights Council was formed in 2006 to replace the commission discredited due to poor rights records of some members. The new council soon faced similar criticism, with rights abusers demanding seats to protect themselves and their allies, and to focus on Israel.

Along with Russia, four other permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France and the United States, which rejoined this year – are currently serving three-year terms on the Human Rights Council. Other members with widely disputed rights records include China, Eritrea, Venezuela, Sudan, Cuba and Libya, as well.

While nearly half of the 193 UN member states supported the resolution, more than half either voted against, did not vote or did not vote.

In explaining their decision not to support the resolution, some countries called it premature, noting whether war crimes had been committed, or that it would undermine the credibility of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations, its investigations. is going on. Others said the resolution reflects American and European geopolitical agendas and what opponents have called Western hypocrisy and selective outrage about human rights.

In addition to the Human Rights Council investigation, the International Criminal Court is investigating possible war crimes in Ukraine, led by former Norwegian judge Erik Mosse, who previously served as the chairman of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Ahead of the vote, Ukraine’s UN ambassador Sergei Kislitsia urged assembly members to stop the Human Rights Council from “sinking” and suspend Russia, saying it had committed “horrific human rights violations and abuses that lead to war crimes and humanity.” offenses against.”

“Russia’s action is beyond ambiguous,” he said. “Russia is not only violating human rights, it is shaking up the very basis of international peace and security.”

In a document circulated by Russia and obtained by the Associated Press, Russia said the US and other adversaries want to maintain their control over the world and continue the “neo-colonial politics of human rights” in international relations.

Kyslytsya responded to Russia’s complaints, saying: “We have heard many times, the same distorted logic of the attacker trying to present himself as the victim.”

On March 24, the General Assembly voted 140-5 with 38 votes on a resolution blaming Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and urging immediate ceasefire and protection for millions of civilians and homes, schools and hospitals.

The vote was almost identical to the March 2 resolution that the Assembly adopted calling for an immediate Russian ceasefire, the withdrawal of all its forces and protection for all civilians. That vote was 141-5 with 35 votes.

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