Russia Removed From UN Human Rights Council
In a victory for accountability, Russia was removed from its position on the UN Human Rights Council for their rights violations in Ukraine, so visible on daily news programming. It was also a victory for diplomacy and the U.S. United Nations representative, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who led the effort. The vote was only the second time in the Council’s history a country was removed (Libya in 1991) and Russia and its friends fought it.
Russia’s invasion had already been condemned in a UN resolution for causing a human rights crisis in Ukraine (March 24) and in an earlier resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, withdrawal of all forces and protection of civilians (March 2).
The vote to remove Russia from the Council was highly contested and only passed 93 to 24, with 58 abstentions. The two earlier resolutions were passed by at least 140 nations (two-thirds of the members voting needed to pass).
Russia claimed the effort was an “illegitimate and politically motivated step.” Various reasons were given for abstentions and “no” votes, including the resolution as premature, investigations are ongoing and the resolution simply reflected American and European geopolitical agendas, Western hypocrisy and selective outrage about human rights. These are frequently heard rationalizations for no action by some factions of the world body. The vote-counting and work of Thomas-Greenfield shows the importance of diplomacy.