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Russia failed to return to the UN Human Rights Council

Russia failed to return to the UN’s top human rights body 18 months after suspending its powers amid the war in Ukraine.

The General Assembly held a secret ballot among 193 members, with Bulgaria receiving 160 votes and Albania 123, granting the two countries a three-year term on the Human Rights Council, beginning on January 1.

Russia came in third place with 83 votes. UN Director at Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau, stated that the United Nations did not welcome countries involved in “war crimes.”

UN member states sent a strong signal to Russia’s leadership that a government responsible for countless war crimes and crimes against humanity doesn’t belong there.

The Council expelled Russia in April 2022 as a result of US-led diplomatic pressure.

The recent UN vote came just days after a Russian missile strike on the Ukrainian village of Hroza on October 5 resulting in the deaths of more than 50 people. Richard Gowan of the non-profit Crisis Group stated:

“Russia can still boast that it got support from nearly half the UN’s members today. This does offer some support to Russia’s claim that its diplomatic isolation is gradually decreasing as many states are tiring of arguments over Ukraine.”

Earlier, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian children’s rights ombudsperson Maria Lvova-Belova over the alleged illegal deportation of hundreds of Ukrainian children. The Kremlin has denied the charges and the court’s jurisdiction.

China also appeared to be among the winners of Tuesday’s vote, even as over 80 non-profit groups urged nations to oppose Beijing’s re-election due to its human rights record.

Savita Pawnday, the Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, noted the neglect of human rights in some countries elected to the Human Rights Council.

Today’s election of Burundi and China undermines the Council’s credibility. Burundi and China along with other perpetrators of likely atrocities, including Cameroon, Eritrea, UAE and Sudan have no place on @UN_HRC.

China claimed one of the four open seats in the Asian group, along with Japan, Indonesia and Kuwait. Indonesia led the voting with 186 votes, while China came fourth with 154 votes.

Cuba, despite its human rights situation, retained its seat with 146 votes, the highest in the Latin American and Caribbean region.


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