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UN General Assembly votes on Thursday on Russia’s suspension from the Human Rights Council

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The UN General Assembly will vote Thursday at 2 p.m. GMT on a Western demand for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council over the invasion of Ukraine. For Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council, a majority of 2/3 of the countries is needed.

The UN General Assembly will vote at 2 p.m. GMT on Thursday on a Western demand for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council over the invasion of Ukraine, the presidency announced on Wednesday. of this principal organ of the United Nations. The ballot is “confirmed Thursday at 10 a.m. local time”, spokeswoman for this presidency, Paulina Kubiak, told AFP.

2/3 majority of countries required

For Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council, sitting in Geneva, a majority of 2/3 of the countries who will vote for and against during the ballot to which the 193 members of the General Assembly are invited. Abstentions are not taken into account.

“Russia should not occupy a position of authority in this body, nor should we allow Russia to use its role in the Council as a propaganda tool to suggest that it has a legitimate concern. regarding human rights,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday.

“In fact, we see every day (…) heartbreaking reports of their lack of interest in human rights. Russia’s participation in the Human Rights Council is a farce. This damages the credibility of the Council and the United Nations as a whole,” she added. “That’s why we think it’s time for the UN General Assembly to suspend them,” said the American diplomat.

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The United States, like the United Kingdom which supported the American approach, is convinced that it has a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. Other member countries, European but also African, are less sure, several diplomats told AFP.

An uncertain outcome

The UN secretariat, for its part, has expressed reservations about such a suspension, fearing that it will open the door to any request for suspension from a country in any UN body by any country. The text of the US resolution put to the vote, obtained by AFP, stresses that “the General Assembly may suspend the rights of membership of the Human Rights Council of a member of the Council who commits gross and systematic violations human rights”.

It also expresses the “deep concern” of the General Assembly “at the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Ukraine, in particular at the reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation”, in a “systematic” manner. The Human Rights Council is the main United Nations forum responsible for promoting this area. Created in 2006, it is made up of 47 member states, elected by the United Nations General Assembly.

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In addition to promoting human rights, its mission is to regularly review their situation in UN member countries. The Council can also take up any question or situation related to human rights that requires it, including during exceptional meetings, which can be convened urgently. This was particularly the case recently for the situation in Ukraine or Ethiopia.

Russia has been a member on and off since 2006. A state can only serve two terms in a row and then it must wait at least a year before it can claim a seat again. Both Ukraine and Russia are currently members of the Council. Russia’s mandate expires in 2023. In UN history, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya was suspended in 2011 from the Human Rights Council by an acclaimed vote of the UN General Assembly. Unlike Russia, it was not a permanent member of the Security Council and Tripoli did not sit on it as a non-permanent member.

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