Ukraine attack Russian troops with HIMARS in Zaporozhye
Russia has been delivered a hammer blow as the country continues to face the consequences of its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The nation attempted to reclaim its spot in the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday but fell short of the 97-vote threshold it needed to rejoin.
Moscow was kicked out of the Council last year after evidence began to emerge of considerable human rights violations only a few months after the start of the conflict.
International human rights lawyer Catriona Murdoch told the Daily Express US: “It is close to unprecedented that the UN Human Rights Council acted as it did 18 months ago, it being only the second time in the Council’s history that a member has been suspended for committing ‘gross and systematic violations of human rights’.
“The impact of this war on civilians and the apocalyptic devastation it is leaving meant the stakes were higher with this vote.
“The continued suspension of Russia rightly signals strong condemnation against an unlawful aggressor and a country which routinely disregards its own people’s rights and freedoms.”
Anna Mykytenko, Ukraine Country Manager for Global Rights Compliance, welcomed the decision as a “positive step” for the international community and called for additional sanctions against Russia.
Mykytenko said: “Voting against Russia’s return to the Human Rights Council is a positive step, but it is not enough.
“After 20 months of full-scale Russian war against Ukraine, Russia’s active participation in the UN HRC should not be on the table.
“Instead, what should be discussed is strengthening sanctions against Russia, court proceedings against Putin and the rest of the military-political leadership of the country, and holding them accountable for war crimes.”
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Russia was competing against Albania and Bulgaria for two seats on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council – representing the East European regional group.
In the secret ballot vote, Bulgaria got 160 votes, Albania received 123 votes and Russia just 83 votes.
Russia has claimed that it has support from a silent majority and there is certain to be a concern, especially by Ukraine and its Western allies, that Moscow’s vote was that high.
On Monday, Moscow’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of leading a campaign to prevent their return to the council.
Nebenzia said: “The main phobia of our American colleagues today is electing Russia to the Human Rights Council.”
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He made his comments during a Security Council meeting called after last week’s strike by a Russian missile on a Ukrainian soldier’s wake in a small village that killed 52 people.
The United States and others sent letters to many of the 193 members of the General Assembly urging a vote against Russia, according to diplomats.
Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, was among the non-government letter-writers also urging Russia’s defeat.
In April 2022, less than two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the General Assembly voted 93-24 with 58 abstentions on a US-initiated resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over allegations that its soldiers in Ukraine engaged in rights violations that the US and Ukraine called war crimes.
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