UNITED NATIONS – The UN General Assembly on Thursday suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over reports of “gross and unconstitutional violations and human rights abuses” in Ukraine, prompting Moscow to announce its withdrawal.
The US-led push received 93 votes, with 24 abstaining and 58 abstaining. In New York, the absence of a two-thirds majority of members voting in the 193-member General Assembly – the 47-member Geneva-based Human Rights Council to suspend Russia – does not count.
Speaking after the vote, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Gennady Kuzmin, described the move as “illegal and politically motivated” and then announced that Russia had decided to withdraw from the Human Rights Council altogether.
“You will not submit your resignation letter once you are fired,” Sergei Kislyas, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters.
Russia was in the second year of its three-year term. Under Thursday’s resolution, the General Assembly may later agree to end the stay. But that can’t happen now. Russia has left the council, just as the United States did in 2018, citing prolonged bias against Israel and a lack of reform.
The United States was re-elected to the council last year. Suspension is rare. Libya was suspended in 2011 by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi over violence against protesters.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the United Nations had “sent a clear message that the plight of the victims and survivors will not be ignored.”
“We are committed to ensuring that a persistent and serious human rights violator is not allowed to take the lead in human rights at the United Nations,” he said in a statement to the General Assembly later on Thursday.
The Human Rights Council cannot make legally binding decisions. Its decisions, however, send important political messages and may allow for an investigation. Last month, the council launched an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses, including possible war crimes in Ukraine.
Thursday’s proposal was adopted by the 193-member General Assembly for the third time since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine on February 24. The two General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia were adopted by 141 and 140 votes, respectively.
Russia’s ally China opposed the proposal on Thursday, after abstaining from voting in the previous two General Assemblies.
China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, has previously said that such hasty action in the General Assembly, which would force countries to choose sides, would further divide the member states and escalate tensions between the parties involved – adding fuel to the fire. Ambassador Zhang Jun said earlier. Vote
The text of the General Assembly on Thursday expressed “deep concern over the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine”, especially in the report on the violation of rights by Russia.
Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” aimed at destroying Ukraine’s military infrastructure and denying attacks on civilians. Ukraine and its allies say Moscow attacked without provocation.
According to a note by Reuters, Russia warned countries that voting yes or abstaining would be seen as an “unfavorable gesture” with the consequences of bilateral relations. – Michelle Nichols / Reuters