The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. The vote, which was held at a session in New York, comes in response to growing concerns over alleged war crimes in Bucha, which surfaced a few days ago from Ukrainian sources.
“Russia’s rights of membership in the UN Human Rights Council has just been suspended,” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs. “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 Western-led draft resolution expressed “grave concern regarding reports of 'gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights' and 'violations of international humanitarian law'” by Russia in Ukraine.
Russia warned other countries on Wednesday that voting for the resolution would be interpreted as an “unfriendly gesture” that will be “taken into account both in the development of bilateral relations and in the work on the issue important for” each country within the United Nations’ framework.
Russia’s deputy ambassador, Gennady Kuzmin, called on states to vote against the resolution. “What we’re seeing today is an attempt by the United States to maintain its dominant position and total control,” he stated. “We reject the untruthful allegations against us, based on staged events and widely circulated fakes.”
Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told members ahead of the vote that ousting Russia was “not an option, but a duty” to save lives and the standing of the Human Rights Council.
Of the 175 votes, 93 United Nations member states voted in favour, while 24 voted against; 58 countries abstained from the vote. Two-thirds of those present, excluding abstentions, are required for a vote to pass.
The countries that voted against Russia’s suspension from the Human Rights Council were led by China, followed by abstentions from countries on good terms with Russia. Russia also voted against its own suspension.
Following the vote, Russia is now the second country to have its membership stripped at the Human Rights Council, which was first established in 2006. The assembly stripped Libya in 2011 when the United States drove the so-called “Arab Spring” that led to the ousting and murder of its leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
The suspension will remain in force until the end of 2023, when Russia’s term on the council comes to an end, or if it is lifted by the General Assembly.