UN General Assembly suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

AFP , Thursday 7 Apr 2022

The UN General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine.

A member of the Russian Federation s delegation, Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin seat
A member of the Russian Federation s delegation, Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin seated without the presence of Vasily Alekseevich Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, responds after Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, April 7, 2022, at United Nations headquarters. AP

Of the 193 members of the assembly, 93 voted in favor of suspension as proposed by the United States while 24 voted against and 58 abstained, suggesting weakening international unity against Russia at the United Nations.

It was the second ever suspension of a country from the council. Libya was the first, in 2011.

Suspension required two-thirds of the votes for and against; the abstentions did not count.

The countries voting against included China, a Moscow ally which has steadfastly abstained from criticizing the invasion. Others were Iran, the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan and communist Cuba, as well as Russia itself, Belarus and Syria.

Despite pressure from Moscow for a no vote, several African countries only abstained, such as South Africa and Senegal. Also abstaining were Brazil, Mexico and India.

The US argues that this punishment -- suspending Russia from the Geneva-based organization that is the UN's main human rights monitor -- is more than symbolic and in fact intensifies Russia's isolation after the assault on Ukraine that began February 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also called for Russia to be expelled from the UN Security Council "so it cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war."

But Washington has admitted there is little anyone can do about Russia's position on the Security Council, where it has a veto.

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