On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the body’s Human Rights Council over its atrocities in Ukraine. In a vote of ninety-three to twenty-four with fifty-eight abstaining, the assembly stopped Moscow for its systematic violations of human rights as it committed violations of international law against Ukraine. Furthermore, the General Assembly resolution requires a two-thirds majority to vote in its favor; the abstentions are not included.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly suspended Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council over reports of human rights abuses and systematic violations in Ukraine. Under the US-led legislation, 93 countries favored the move, 24 members voted no, and 58 nations abstained. pic.twitter.com/EA2dbBtSMO
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Ahead of the vote, Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian envoy, expressed that they view voting to suspend a country’s Human Rights Council rights as an extraordinary and rare action. Further, he said that Russian steps are beyond the pale; Russia is not only committing human rights violations but also shaking the foundations of global peace and security. 47 nations are on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, and General Assembly elected them in secret ballot votes.
At present, Russia is serving a 3-year term that was due to end on 31st December 2023. The Ukrainian envoy noted that the world remembered the Rwandan genocide on 7th April and said those massacres were due in significant part to the absence of international action and failure by the U.N. to respond to warnings from the region.
The United States Led the Move
In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cautioned the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday for its delay in suspending the Russian invasion of his country. In addition, Zelensky called for Russia to face accountability for its violations of human rights in Ukraine. So, the United States led the move to drop the Russian membership, and over sixty nations joined the resolution.
Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, told reporters in Brussels that the country committing systematic and gross violations of human rights is not allowed to sit on a body whose responsibility is to protect those rights. United States Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the organization sent a clear message that it will not ignore the suffering of survivors and victims.
HRC has the Authority to Investigate
The Human Rights Council (HRC) has the authority to establish inquiry commissions, fact-finding investigations, and missions into rights abuses and has done so in several nations, including North Korea, Syria, and Myanmar. In March, the U.N. decided to set up an independent international commission of inquiry to probe alleged abuses and violations in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Some nations that either voted no to suspending Russia from the Human Rights Body or abstained said they believed the move was premature and prejudged the consequences of the commission of inquiry. Ambassador Zhang Jun said that such a hasty move at the United Nations General Assembly, which forces nations to choose sides, will worsen the division among member countries and strengthen the contradictions between the concerned parties.
Since its establishment in 2006, the U.N. Human Rights Council has come in for continuous criticism because of the repulsive rights records of some of its member countries. At present, Pakistan, China, Venezuela, and Eritrea are among its member states. The international community also criticized the council for its focus on Israel. As a result, the Trump government left the body in 2018, calling it a culvert of political bias. But the Biden government returned to the council last year.