UNGA set to vote Thursday to suspend Russia from UN Human Rights Council as Moscow warns

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enewspaper.com.pk/UNGA set to vote Thursday to suspend Russia from UN Human Rights Council as Moscow warns

UNITED NATIONS, (APP): On the eve of the United Nations General Assembly’s scheduled to vote Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, Moscow has warned member states that a yes vote or abstention on a US-backed resolution to that effect will be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture”, according to a note sent by the Russian mission to some missions.

General Assembly spokeswoman Paulina Kubiak said Wednesday that the assembly’s emergency special session on Ukraine would resume Thursday when the resolution “to suspend the rights of membership in the Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation” will be put to a vote.

While the Human Rights Council is based in Geneva, its members are elected by the 193-nation General Assembly for three-year terms.

The March 2006 resolution that established the 47-member rights council says the assembly may suspend membership rights of a country “that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.”

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.”

A two-thirds majority of voting members – abstentions do not count – can suspend a country from the Human Rights Council for committing gross and systematic violations of human rights.

In the note, obtained by ‘Foreign Policy’ and other media outlets, Russia’s mission to the United Nations urged countries to “speak out against the anti-Russian resolution.”

“It is worth mentioning that not only support for such an initiative but also an equidistant position in the vote (abstention or non-participation) will be considered as an unfriendly gesture,” the note said.

“In addition, the position of each country will be taken into account both in the development of bilateral relations and in the work on the issues important for it within the framework of the UN,” it read.

The note also said that the attempt to expel it from the Human Rights Council is political and being supported 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, saying that Russia’s priority is to promote and defend human rights, including multilaterally in the Human Rights Council.

The Russian mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the letter because it was not public. Russia is in the second year of a three-year term on the Human Rights Council.

“Russia blatantly and openly threatening countries who vote to suspend them from the UN Human Rights Council is only further evidence that Russia needs to be suspended immediately from the UN Human Rights Council,” Olivia Dalton, spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said on Wednesday.

Since Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine began on Feb. 24, the Assembly has adopted two resolutions denouncing Russia with 141 and 140 votes in favor. Moscow says it is carrying out a “special operation” to demilitarize Ukraine.

Russia denies attacking civilians in Ukraine and Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Tuesday that while Bucha was under Russian control “not a single civilian suffered from any kind of violence.”

The General Assembly has previously suspended a country from the Human Rights Council. In March 2011, it unanimously suspended Libya because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

No permanent member of the Security Council has ever had its membership revoked from any UN body.

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