Russia is expelled from the United Nations Human Rights Council due to its actions in Ukraine.

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Russia expelled from United Nations Human Rights

The UN General Assembly suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, citing reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by Russian troops invading Ukraine.

The resolution sponsored by the United States received 93 votes in favour, 24 votes against, and 58 abstentions. Suspending Russia from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council required a two-thirds majority of voting members in the 193-member General Assembly in New York ā€“ abstentions do not count.

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Russia had warned that a yes vote or abstention would be seen as a “unfriendly gesture” with negative implications for bilateral relations. The resolution expresses “grave concern” about the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, especially reports of Russian human rights violations.

The Geneva-based council, which cannot make legally binding decisions, was in its second year of a three-year term for Russia. Its decisions have political ramifications and can lead to investigations.

Suspensions by the UNHCR are uncommon. Libya was suspended in 2011 due to violence perpetrated by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi against protesters. It was the 193-member General Assembly’s third resolution since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. The two previous UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia received 141 and 140 votes in favour, respectively.

Moscow is one of the council’s most outspoken members, and its suspension prevents it from speaking or voting, though its diplomats can still attend meetings. Since Russia’s attack, the council has opened an investigation into allegations of human rights violations, including possible war crimes, in Ukraine.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s UN Ambassador, said that a yes vote would “save the Human Rights Council and many lives around the world and in Ukraine,” while a no vote would be “pulling a trigger, and means a red dot on the screen ā€“ red as the blood of innocent lives lost.”

After Ukraine accused Russian troops of killing hundreds of civilians in the town of Bucha, the US announced that it would seek Russia’s suspension.

Gennady Kuzmin, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, said the time was not right for “theatrical performances,” accusing Western countries and allies of attempting to “destroy existing human rights architecture.”

“We reject the false allegations against us based on staged events and widely circulated fakes,” Kuzmin said before the vote in the General Assembly, defending Russia’s record as a member of the Human Rights Council.

China, which had abstained in the previous two General Assembly votes, voted against the resolution on Thursday. Before the vote, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said, “Such a hasty move at the General Assembly, which forces countries to choose sides, will aggravate the division among member states, intensify the confrontation between the parties concerned ā€“ it is like adding fuel to the fire.”

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