UNGA suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council amid allegations that its soldiers killed civilians while retreating from the region around Ukraine’s capital.

The United States-initiated resolution on Thursday achieved the two-thirds majority of UNGA voting members required to pass, with 93 votes cast in favour and 24 against. Fifty-eight countries abstained, but their votes did not count towards the final tally.

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The brief resolution expressed “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, particularly at the reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation, including gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights”.

The vote, which makes Moscow the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to ever have its membership revoked from any United Nations body, was immediately welcomed by Kyiv but criticised by Moscow.

“War criminals have no place in UN bodies aimed at protecting human rights. Grateful to all member states which supported the relevant UNGA resolution and chose the right side of history,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.

For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed regret about the decision. “We’re sorry about that,” Peskov said in an interview with Britain’s Sky News. “And we’ll continue to defend our interests using every possible legal means,” he said.

Russia had called on an unspecified number of countries to vote “no”, saying an abstention or not voting would be considered an unfriendly act and would affect bilateral relations.

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In its so-called “non-paper” obtained by The Associated Press news agency, Russia said the attempt to expel it from the Human Rights Council is a political act by countries that want to preserve their dominant position and control over the world.

UN General Assembly suspends Russia from Human Rights Council  Al Jazeera English

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