The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution suspending Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council over the country’s war in Ukraine.
The resolution was adopted by 93 votes for, 24 votes against and 58 abstentions. The text had to obtain a majority of two-thirds (without taking into account abstentions) to be adopted.
Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Vietnam, were among those who voted against it.
Abstainers included India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.
In this resolution, the General Assembly expresses “its deep concern at the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Ukraine, in particular at reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation”.
In this context, the Assembly, which has 193 member states, “decided to suspend the rights of membership of the Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation”.
The vote took place on the anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the Ukrainian ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, drew parallels with this dark page in recent history.
“The genocide in Rwanda was largely due to the indifference of the world community when the UN failed to respond to the warnings of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, a year before the tragedy which we commemorate exactly on this day,” Mr Kyslytsya said. “Today, in the case of Ukraine, it has not even been a year, because the tragedy is unfolding right now before our eyes.”
The Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva, has 47 member states.
The United Nations General Assembly, which elects members of the Human Rights Council, has suspended only one other country in the past, Libya in 2011.
Russia joined the Council in January 2021 as one of 15 countries elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term.
Under the 2006 resolution that established the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly can suspend a country if it commits gross and systematic human rights violations.