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UN votes to suspend Russia from Human Rights Council


A UN General Assembly vote on Thursday approved a US-led effort to suspend Russia from the 47-member Human Rights Council over the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

The suspension of the council, which is based in Geneva, is a major diplomatic slap in the face to Russia, one of the founding members of the United Nations. The resolution to suspend Russia required a two-thirds majority of votes cast, with abstentions not counting as votes, and is seen as a barometer of the world’s horror at the apparent atrocities in Ukraine.

The resolution received 93 votes in favor and 24 against, and 58 countries abstained. China had said before the vote that it would not support the measure, as did countries including Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Iran and South Africa. Their arguments included that the move could escalate the war and that further investigation into the reported atrocities was needed before the United Nations acted.

Ukraine’s Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said before the vote that suspending Russia was “not an option, but a duty”, in order to save lives and prevent the Human Rights Council from sink.

Russia called the move “an attempt by the United States to maintain its dominance and total control” and to “use human rights colonialism in international relations.”

The action came a day after Russia’s indiscriminate shelling of Ukraine and reported killings and torture of civilians on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, which point to Russian culpability. Ukraine, the United States and other countries have declared these acts to constitute war crimes.

Only four countries voted with Russia in two General Assembly resolutions in March that reprimanded Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces.

The General Assembly, which elects the members of the Human Rights Council, suspended only one other country: Libya, in March 2011. But this measure, taken after President Muammar Gaddafi launched a fierce crackdown on anti-government protesters, was taken with the support of Libyan diplomats in New York and Geneva who had disassociated themselves from the actions of their government.

Russia’s suspension, on the other hand, comes in the face of its blanket denials of any rights violations in Ukraine. The Kremlin had warned that it would consider votes in favor of the resolution or even abstentions as “unfriendly” acts which would have consequences for its relations with these countries.

Russia’s suspension is the first time that one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council has lost its membership rights in a United Nations organization, rights groups have said.

His suspension from the Human Rights Council has both practical and symbolic significance.

Russia has been active in Council proceedings challenging all resolutions criticizing individual countries, particularly allies such as Syria and Belarus, and proposing amendments aimed at undermining a wide range of rights initiatives.

After Thursday’s General Assembly vote, he will remain a member of the Board but will only be able to propose resolutions, table amendments or address the Board in deliberations on situations in which he is directly involved.

The suspension will remain in effect until the General Assembly decides to lift it or until the end of 2023, when Russia’s term as a member ends.

nytimes Eur

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