By Uganda Online Correspondent
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is set to vote on a United States-initiated resolution to suspend Russia from the organization’s leading human rights body over allegations that its soldiers killed civilians while retreating from the region around Ukraine’s capital.
The brief resolution to be voted on Thursday expresses “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”.
Approval would require a two-thirds majority of the UNGA members that vote “yes” or “no”, with abstentions not counting in the calculation.
Russia has 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.
In its so-called “non-paper”, 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.
Those nations want to continue “the politics of neo-colonialism of human rights” in international relations, it said, adding that Russia’s priority is to promote and defend human rights, including multilaterally in the Human Rights Council.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the call for Russia to be stripped of its seat on the 47-member council earlier this week, following videos and photos of streets in the town of Bucha strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians.
“We believe that the members of the Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine, and we believe that Russia needs to be held accountable,” Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday.
“We cannot let a member state that is subverting every principle we hold dear to continue to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.
The images emerging from the Kyiv region after Russia’s withdrawal have sparked global revulsion and calls for tougher sanctions.
Moscow has denied its troops were responsible for civilian deaths. Russia’s ambassador in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, called the US action “unfounded and purely emotional bravado that looks good on camera – just how the US likes it”.
“Washington exploits the Ukrainian crisis for its own benefit in an attempt either to exclude or suspend Russia from international organizations,” Gatilov said, in comments relayed by a Russian diplomatic mission spokesman.
Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, alongside the United Kingdom, China, France, and the US.
All currently have seats on the Human Rights Council, which the US rejoined this year.
UNGA spokeswoman Paulina Kubiak said the assembly’s emergency special session on Ukraine would resume on Thursday morning when the resolution “to suspend the rights of membership in the Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation” will be put to a vote.
No permanent member of the Security Council has ever had its membership revoked from any UN body.
The only country to have its membership rights stripped at the council was Libya in 2011 when upheaval in the North African country brought down longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.