Russia was expelled from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), following its invasion in Ukraine.
The UN’s General Assembly (UNGA), voted 93 to 24 in favor of suspending Russia over claims of horrendous rights violations by Russian soldiers. This was a result that the United States and Ukraine consider war crimes.
According to Reuters, Moscow called the move an “unfriendly gesture” but warned that there would be consequences for bilateral ties.
Kremlin spokesperson calls Bucha scenes “fake” – live updates
After images of civilians on the streets in Bucha, Kyiv province, there has been widespread revulsion.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to UN, launched the campaign to expel Russia from UNHRC. She stated that Russia had to be warned about continuing to act with “such impunity”, and that it was “pretending to respect human rights.”
The Ukraine accuses Russian troops of killing hundreds civilians in Bucha. Moscow denies being to blame.
Vassily Nebenzia (Russia’s ambassador to UN), stated earlier this week that Bucha was not under Russian control and that no civilian had been subjected to any violence.
After the suspension vote, Liz Truss (foreign secretary) called Russia “a worldwide pariah”.
Dmytro Kuleba (Ukraine’s foreign minister) said that he was grateful to all members states who supported the vote, and chose the “right side of history”.
Russia is a permanent UN Security Council member and cannot be removed. Therefore, the UNHRC suspends Russia to show disapproval for Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
A draft text was published prior to the vote in which Moscow was accused of creating an “humanitarian crisis” in Ukraine.
The UNGA adopted two resolutions denoncing Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, with 141 votes and 140 votes respectively.
What does the UNHRC mean for Russia?
The council, which is based at Geneva, had 47 members before Russia was suspended. Russia was in the second year of its three-year term.
Although it was established in 2006 by the UNHRC, it cannot make legally binding decisions. However, it can authorize investigations and send out powerful political messages.
It opened an investigation last month into allegations of rights violations in Ukraine, including possible war crimes.
Russia’s suspension is not just a loss in prestige.
This is a sign that the UNGA members believe it is unfit to be a member of an international human rights organization.