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UN suspends Russia from human rights council over Ukraine, Moscow says will defend interests

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Sergiy Kyslytsya, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, delivers remarks during an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York City, April 7, 2022.

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over what it called the “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by Russian troops in Ukraine.

The UN-initiated resolution garnered 93 votes in favor on Thursday, while 24 countries voted against and 58 countries abstained.

The Russian government had reportedly warned that a yes vote or abstention would be considered as an “unfriendly gesture” and impact bilateral ties.

The resolution expressed “grave concern” at the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, particularly at reports of alleged “abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.”

A two-thirds majority of the UNGA members was required to suspend Russia from the 47-member council.

A suspension from the council bars Moscow from speaking and voting. However, its diplomats could still attend debates.

The decision makes Moscow the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to ever have its membership revoked from any UN-related body.

The voting comes in the wake of an investigation into allegations of rights violations, including possible war crimes, in Ukraine since Russia's attack.

Since the start of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, the General Assembly has adopted two resolutions denouncing Moscow.

The US announced earlier that it would seek Russia’s suspension after Ukraine accused Russian of violating human rights in the town of Bucha.

“What we see is an attempt by the US to maintain its dominant position and total control, to continue its attempt at human rights colonialism,” Gennady Kuzmin, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, told the UNGA session before Thursday’s vote.

Russia has denied killing civilians in Bucha. UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said earlier this week that while Russia got control of Bucha, “not a single civilian suffered from any kind of violence.”

Russia says UN rights council suspension illegal, will defend its interests

Following the UN vote, Russia said its suspension from the Human Rights Council was illegal and politically motivated.

RIA news agency quoted Gennady Kuzmin, deputy Russian ambassador to the United Nations, as saying Russia had decided to give up its membership immediately, on April 7.

"We're sorry about that," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Britain's Sky News.

"And we'll continue to defend our interests using every possible legal means," Peskov said, adding, "We have significant losses of troops. And it's a huge tragedy for us."

Iran: Human rights should not fall victim to political considerations

Speaking at the UN General Assembly meeting, Iran’s ambassador to the world body, Majid Takht-Ravanchi warned against politicization of the issue of human rights.

He added that in Iran’s opinion, the text of the anti-Russia draft resolution was based on political motivations, which can harm UN’s impartiality.

Takht-Ravanchi said Iran is committed to promotion and safeguard of human rights, but believes that political use of the United Nations’ human rights mechanism contravenes the principle of universality of those rights.

Iran’s UN ambassador emphasized that the Human Rights Council’s work must be done in a nonpolitical and non-confrontational manner and membership at the council should not be politicized.

He noted that Iran believes in protecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and is deeply concerned about continuation of the dire humanitarian situation in Ukraine.


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