The UN General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights council due over what the assembly cited as human rights violations and the humanitarian crisis stemming from its invasion of Ukraine.
There were 93 votes in favor of the suspension, 24 against and 58 abstentions. The resolution cited the power of the assembly to “suspend the rights of membership in the Human Rights Council of a member of the Council that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.”
The draft of the resolution further said there was “grave concern” following reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” and “violations of international humanitarian law”.
The US led the charge to achieve the two-thirds vote needed, with Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield saying ahead of the vote, “Russia should not have a position of authority in a body whose purpose – whose very purpose – is to promote respect for human rights. Not only is it the height of hypocrisy – it is dangerous.” She said further: “Every day, we see more and more how little Russia respects human rights.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, also said just before the vote: “Now the world has come to a crucial juncture. We witness that our liner is going through treacherous fog towards deadly icebergs. It might seem that we should have named it the Titanic instead of the Human Rights Council. … We need to take an action today to save the council from sinking.”
Notably China was Russia’s most powerful backer, voting against the resolution. Also notable is that India abstained.
According to Newsweek and The Associated Press, Russia had made threats to multiple countries over how a “yes” vote might alter relations:
The vote by China to back Russia comes shortly after the Associated Press reported that Russia threatened several nations to vote against the resolution on Thursday. According to the Associated Press, Russia told several nations that voting in favor of the resolution or abstaining from the vote would be considered an “unfriendly gesture” and alter that country’s relationship with Russia.
“Belarus, China, Iran, Russia and Syria were among the U.N. members that voted against the resolution. India abstained from voting,” NBC reported. Cuba was also among those voting “no” to the resolution.