Russia suspended as member of UN Human Rights Council

Russia suspended as member of UN Human Rights Council
UN Human Rights Council. Credit: Belga

On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over its invasion of Ukraine.

The vote followed allegations of war crimes, such as in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, against Russia: 93 countries voted in favour of the suspension, 24 against and 58 abstained. A two-thirds majority was needed, with abstentions not counted.

Before the vote, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya accused Russia of "terrible" crimes, including the killing of civilians in Bucha.

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Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Gennady Kuzmin, condemned the vote. Other countries, including North Korea and Syria backed him.

After the vote, Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that "war criminals have no place in UN bodies aimed at protecting human rights. Grateful to all member states which supported the relevant UNGA resolution and chose the right side of history."

The text of the resolution states that "the right of the Russian Federation to be a member of the Human Rights Council is suspended."

In practice, Russia will officially remain a member of the Council until the end of its term in 2023, but it will lose all the rights associated with such membership. For example, the country can no longer participate in sessions of the Human Rights Council, not even as an observer.

The UN Human Rights Council consists of representatives of 47 states, and is concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. It meets several times a year in Geneva, Switzerland. The last time a member state was suspended was Libya in 2011.

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