DISPLAYS show the results of voting at the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.—Reuters
DISPLAYS show the results of voting at the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.—Reuters

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly on Thursday suspended Russia from its human rights council following allegations that Russian soldiers committed systematic human rights violations in Ukraine.

The United States initiated the resolution, which received 93 votes in favour, while 24 countries voted against. Pakistan and India were among the 58 countries that abstained.

Other South Asian nations — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka — also abstained, although the Biden administration had sent its senior envoys to these countries before the vote to persuade them to support the move.

India participated in the debate, acknowledging that the ‘human rights situation in Ukraine has deteriorated,’ but decided not to vote. Pakistan did not participate in the debate.

Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia among 58 who abstained

In the Middle East, Iran voted against the resolution while Saudi Arabia abstained, reflecting recent tensions in its ties with Washington. Egypt, Iraq, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also abstained.

The US-initiated resolution needed a two-thirds majority of the votes cast to pass, and it easily reached that target — 93-24 — as abstentions do not count.

The vote makes Russia the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to have its membership of the UN Human Rights Council suspended. Russia was in its second year of a three-year term on the Geneva-based council.

Urging nations in the 193-member General Assembly to vote for the resolution, the United States said that “Moscow’s participation in the top human rights body is a farce”. Nations that commit “gross and systematic” violations of human rights did not belong in the council, it added. Before the vote, Ukrainian UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya urged countries to support the resolution claiming that Russian troops had killed “thousands of peaceful residents” in Bucha and other cities and villages across Ukraine.

Gennady Kuzmin, Deputy Russian Ambassador, however, called for countries to “vote against the attempt by western countries and their allies to destroy the existing human rights architecture” in the body. In Berlin, the Group of Seven industrialised nations also supported the move to suspend Russia from the UN’s human rights body.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2022

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