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U.S. describes Russia’s suspension from Human Rights Council as “historic”

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U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has described the adoption of the resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council as an “important and historic moment”.

Thomas-Greenfield spoke on Thursday at UN General Assembly (UNGA) following the vote in response to Russian forces’ alleged killings of civilians in Ukraine.

The United States was the last country to speak during the day-long meeting.

“It was not only about accountability for Russia,” she said, “but also about standing with the people of Ukraine.

“Today, the international community took one collective step in the right direction.

“We ensured a persistent and egregious human rights violator will not be allowed to occupy a position of leadership on human rights at the UN,” she said.


Thomas-Greenfield said Member States should continue to hold Russia accountable for this unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war – and to do everything in our power to stand with the people of Ukraine.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that UNGA had earlier adopted a resolution calling for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council.

The resolution received a two-thirds majority of those voting, minus abstentions, in the 193-member Assembly, with 93 nations voting in favour and 24 against.

Fifty-eight abstained from the process.

Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Vietnam, were among those who voted against.

Those abstaining included Nigeria, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.

The meeting marked the resumption of a special emergency session on the war in Ukraine and followed reports of violations committed by Russian forces.

This is not the first time that a Member State has had its membership of the Human Rights Council suspended.

Libya lost its seat in 2011, following repression of protests by ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who was later overthrown.

The UN Human Rights Council consists of 47 members and is based in Geneva.

Russia joined the body in January 2021 as one of 15 countries elected by the General Assembly to serve three-year terms.

Under the 2006 resolution that established the Council, the General Assembly can suspend a country from membership if it commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.

China was among the countries that voted against the resolution.

Amb. ZHANG Jun, feared any hasty move in the General Assembly would be like “adding fuel to the fire”, as it would aggravate divisions, intensify the conflict, and jeopardise peace efforts.

“Dealing with the membership of the Human Rights Council in such a way will set new dangerous precedent, further intensify confrontation in the field of human rights, bringing a greater impact on the UN governance system, and produce serious consequences,” he said.

For the European Union (EU), the scale and gravity of Russia’s violations in Ukraine, and of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, call for a strong, united international response.

“The rare decision this Assembly has taken today sends a strong signal of accountability and hopefully will help preventing and discouraging more violations of human rights,” Amb Olaf Skoog, head of the EU delegation said.

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