Sunday, 19 May 2024

Russia fails in bid to rejoin Human Rights Council, despite 83 backers

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The United Nations General Assembly voted down Russia’s bid to rejoin the Human Rights Council, a victory for Ukraine and the US as they seek to keep up pressure on Moscow over its invasion 18 months ago.

Russia lost to Bulgaria and Albania in its push to fill one of the seats reserved for Eastern European nations. It secured 83 votes, a number that’s less than half of the General Assembly. Even so, that support highlighted how Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t as isolated as the US and its allies would like.

Russia’s bid to join the UN Human Rights Council has fallen short in a win for Ukraine and the US.Credit: AP

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzya, had called out what he said was Western hypocrisy when he gave a speech last week pushing for Russia to rejoin the council, which is the UN’s most powerful human rights body even though it has no legal authority.

“They attack others, while hushing up violations at home, such as religious intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia,” Nebenzia said without naming any countries.

“In pursuing political goals of suppressing any dissent they do not hesitate to disregard rules of the organisation, in particular by suspending the rights of membership of Russia in the Council.”

Russia’s suspension in April of last year marked the first time such an action was backed at the UN since Libya was suspended during the final months of Muammar Gaddafi’s rein in 2011. Even so, 58 countries including Mexico and Brazil abstained at the time.

The Human Rights Council, a Geneva-based body made up of 47 countries, has come in for frequent criticism for its composition. Cuba won a seat this year, as did China, which has been accused of widespread rights abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere.

Last year, the UN human rights commissioner said China’s treatment of the Uyghurs may amount to crimes against humanity.


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