Suspension of Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday suspended Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council over the invasion of Ukraine, in a vote of 93 in favor and reflecting the erosion of international unity toward Moscow. Of the 193 member states of the General Assembly, 24 voted against this suspension – the second in the history of the United Nations after the overthrow of Libya in 2011 – at the initiative of the United States. Fifty-eight countries abstained, but the abstention, an option denounced by Kyiv, was not taken into account in the required two-thirds majority among the only votes in favor and against.

The Kremlin will continue to “defend its interests”

The Kremlin on Thursday expressed regret at suspending Russia’s membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council, warning that Moscow intends to “continue to defend its interests by all legal means.” “We regret this and will continue to defend our interests by all legal means and explain ourselves,” Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Britain’s Sky News.

China denounced “hasty approach”

Among the countries voted against was China, which denounced the “hasty approach” and set “oil on fire” and a “dangerous precedent”. Iran, Kazakhstan and Cuba also voted against it. Unsurprisingly, Russia, Belarus, and Syria opposed the proposed resolution on the ballot. Despite Moscow’s pressure in recent days for countries to vote against it, several African countries, including South Africa and Senegal, chose to abstain, considering that Moscow’s suspension decision “prejudges the results of the poll” prepared by the human rights organization in early March. board.

Brazil, like Mexico and India, the three non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, adopted the same abstention position. Chile, on the other hand, voted in favour. According to Washington, Russia’s suspension from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council is much more than symbolic and increases Moscow’s “isolation” on the international scene since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has been discontinued since 2006

Russia is accused of committing war crimes and violations against civilians in the Ukrainian regions it occupied, like Bucha, which hastened Washington’s move to suspend the membership of the Human Rights Council. Moscow has been an intermittent member of the council since 2006 because its members are only allowed two consecutive terms. Its current term expires in 2023. Ukraine is among the current members of the Council.

The resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday indicates that the latter “may suspend the rights of membership of the Human Rights Council for a member of the Council who commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.” It expresses the General Assembly’s “deep concern” at the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Ukraine, in particular in the face of reports of human rights violations and abuses, at times “systematic”, and “violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation”. “.

Ukraine is “grateful”

Ukraine said Thursday it was “grateful” for the decision to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying that “war criminals” should not be represented there. “There is no place for war criminals in UN bodies whose purpose is to protect human rights,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

The Council’s mission is to promote human rights

The Human Rights Council is the main UN forum responsible for promoting this field. Founded in 2006, it consists of 47 member states, elected by the United Nations General Assembly. In addition to promoting human rights, its mission is to regularly review their situation in UN member states. The Council may also take up any human rights issue or situation that requires it, including during extraordinary meetings that may be convened expeditiously. This has been the case especially recently with regard to the situation in Ukraine, despite opposition from Moscow or in Ethiopia.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations General Assembly has spoken about this war three times, including in a vote on Thursday. On March 2, during the historic first vote, 141 countries condemned the invasion by Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and 5 countries voted against (plus Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea), 35 abstaining. On March 24, the United Nations General Assembly called for unhindered humanitarian access and protection of civilians in Ukraine. During the poll, 140 countries voted in favor, five against (the same five as on March 2) and 38 countries abstained.

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