U.N. Removes Russia from Human Rights Council Citing Ukrainian Atrocities

The United Nations General Assembly voted 93-24 to remove Russia from the 47-member council, exceeding the required two-thirds majority.

Following the overwhelming evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, including the alleged slaughter of hundreds of Ukrainian citizens by retreating Russian forces in the Kyiv suburb Bucha, the United Nations voted Thursday to expel Russia from the Human Rights Council.

In a joint statement released Thursday morning, the Group of Seven — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — called for Russia’s suspension from the council, citing a “list of atrocities and severe violations of international law” committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including in Bucha.

Formed in 2006, the only other country to be removed from the Human Rights Council was Libya. The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly agreed to suspend Libya in 2011 after evidence of serious human rights violations.

Russia began a three-year term on the council in 2021. In light of the proven atrocities in Bucha, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for Russia’s suspension from the Security Council on Monday, calling Russia’s participation a “farce.”

The Human Rights Council’s members are responsible for identifying human rights infractions around the world and making recommendations on abuses, however the council has come under fire for including countries such as China and Venezuela – accused human rights abusers – among its members.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N., Sergiy Kyslytsya, said that voting against Russia’s exclusion would mean “pulling a trigger,” and “a red dot;” red representing the blood of the innocent people, who were now dead. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also postulated the removal.

In response to its suspension, Russia’s memo to the other countries, according to multiple sources, says that any vote in favor of removing it from the council or abstention would be seen as an “unfriendly gesture” and have ramifications in diplomatic relations with Russia.

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