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6 Apr, 2022 13:39

UN Human Rights Council to vote on suspension of Russia – media

Some Western nations want Moscow suspended
UN Human Rights Council to vote on suspension of Russia – media

The UN General Assembly will vote on Thursday on suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council, French state media AFP reported on Wednesday. Some Western nations are pushing for the expulsion to punish Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

The US and its allies have argued that it's no longer feasible to have Russia as a member of the UN body after Kiev raised unverified allegations of war crimes against Moscow. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US permanent representative to the UN, called Russia’s participation “a farce” during a visit to Romania on Monday. Similar sentiments were expressed by officials from nations such as the UK and Canada.

Russia currently holds a seat at the 47-member body for the second year of a three-year term. The country’s envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, called the suggestion to kick Russia out “unbelievable” during a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

The push to expell Russia comes in response to images that Kiev claimed were evidence of genocide perpetrated by Russian troops in Ukraine. The accusation was endorsed by Western nations before any independent investigation could take place. Moscow denied the allegations and said the Ukrainian government was manipulating the public opinion with scenes that were staged to slander Russia.

The US has a strained record of engagement with the UN Human Rights Council. In 2018, the Trump administration even withdrew from it, citing alleged anti-Israeli bias and branding it a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.”

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who was serving as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time, called the US move “disappointing, if not really surprising.” Washington rejoined the council in October 2021.

A two-thirds majority vote by the 193-member Assembly can suspend a state from the UN Human Rights Council for persistently committing gross and systematic violations of human rights.

Libya’s seat was taken away in March 2011 amid a crackdown on mass protests. NATO states intervened in the crisis, destroying the Libyan army and allowing the anti-government forces to topple and summarily execute longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.