UN Suspends Russia memebership in the Human Rights Council_UN Photo_Manuel Elias_02

UN General Assembly agrees to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, but China changes abstention into NO vote

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on Thursday calling for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council.
In the 193-member Assembly, 93 nations voted in favour and 24 against the resolution. This means that the resolution received a two-thirds majority of those voting, minus abstentions.

Under the 2006 resolution that established the Council, the General Assembly can suspend a country from membership if it commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.

Evidences published in the latest days on the masacre of civilians by The Russian federation army in Bucha have made clear, at least for the countries that voted YES, that there are reasons enough to aply the 2006 resolution to Russia.

“Bucha and dozens of other Ukrainian cities and villages, where thousands of peaceful residents have been killed, tortured, raped, abducted and robbed by the Russian Army, serve as an example of how dramatically far the Russian Federation has gone from its initial declarations in the human rights domain. That is why this case is unique and today’s response is obvious and self-explanatory,” Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said before the vote.

This is not the first time that a Member State has had its membership of the Human Rights Council suspended. Libya lost its seat in 2011, following repression of protests by ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who was later toppled.

The decission to suspend Russia has been adopted precisely on the anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the Ukrainian ambassador drew parallels with this dark page in recent history.

Sergiy Kyslytsya (Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations). Caption from the UNCHR video of the voting session. To watch the video, click on the link I enclose at the end of this post.

“The genocide in Rwanda was largely due to the indifference of the world’s community, when the UN did not respond to warnings in the UN Security Council and in the General Assembly, a year before the tragedy that we commemorate exactly on this day,” said Kyslytsya (Ukraine).
“Today, in the case of Ukraine, it is not even a year, because the tragedy is unfolding right now before our eyes.”

Speaking after the adoption of the resolution, Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin, suddenly stated that Russia had already decided that day, to leave the Council before the end of its term.

A step on the right direction for the EU and USA

“The rare decision this Assembly has taken today sends a strong signal of accountability and hopefully will help preventing and discouraging more violations of human rights,” said Ambassador Olaf Skoog, head of the EU delegation.

US Ambassador before the UN ,Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Caption from a UN video published on UN You Tube cahnnel.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (USA) described the adoption of the resolution as “an important and historic moment”. It was not only about accountability for Russia, she said, but also about standing with the people of Ukraine.

“Today, the international community took one collective step in the right direction. We ensured a persistent and egregious human rights violator will not be allowed to occupy a position of leadership on human rights at the UN,” said Ms. Thomas-Greenfield.

“Let us continue to hold Russia accountable for this unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war and to do everything in our power to stand with the people of Ukraine.”

It is the USA the country that asked for Russia’s suspension of membership in the UNHRC.

UN Suspends Russia memebership in the Human Rights Council_EU UK and Russia interventiosn in the votingsession
UN Suspends Russia memebership in the Human Rights Council. EU UK and Russia representatives talk during the voting session. To watch the video, click on the link I enclose at the end of this post

For the European Union (EU), the scale and gravity of Russia’s violations in Ukraine, and of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, call for a strong, united international response.

“The rare decision this Assembly has taken today sends a strong signal of accountability and hopefully will help preventing and discouraging more violations of human rights,” said Ambassador Olaf Skoog, head of the EU delegation.

Gennady Kuzmin (Russia) claimed the Council was monopolized by a group of States who use it for their short-term aims.

“These States for many years have directly been involved in blatant and massive violations of human rights, or abetted those violations,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.
“In spite of their membership as members of the Council, they are not ready to sacrifice their short-term political and economic interests in favour of true cooperation and stabilizing the human rights situation in certain countries.”

China changes abstention into NO vote

Leaving aside the abstentions, it is specially relevant the frontal opposition to the resolution by China. The pact signed with Russia on the sidelines Olympic Games including the mutual political support is functioning so far. On one hand, China is sending humanitarian help to Ukraine, but on the other hand is supporting Putin’s claims to establish a “security balance” in Europe avoiding NATO’s enlargemento to the East.

UN Suspends Russia memebership in the Human Rights Council_Zhang Jun _Ambassador of the PRC before the United Nations_ interventiosn in the votingsession
UN Suspends Russia memebership in the UN Human Rights Council. Zhang Jun (Ambassador of the PRC before the United Nations) talks during the voting session. To watch the video, click on the link I enclose at the end of this post.

Zhang Jun (Ambassador of the PRC before the United Nations) justified China’s no vote saying that any hasty move in the General Assembly would be like “adding fuel to the fire”, as it would aggravate divisions, intensify the conflict, and jeopardize peace efforts.

“Dealing with the membership of the Human Rights Council in such a way will set new dangerous precedent, further intensify confrontation in the field of human rights, bringing a greater impact on the UN governance system, and produce serious consequences,” he underscored.

On the territorial claims of Russia, the only thing that China is officially setting with special care once and another in the answers to the press is that “some people even deliberately draw an analogy between Taiwan and Ukraine despite their completely different nature in an attempt to confuse public opinion and profit from the chaos. This is playing with fire. Those who play with fire are bound to get burned themselves.” At least this said literally today Zhao Lijian, the spokes person of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of te PRC during the daily regular press conference held today.

China seems not specially interested in supporting Russia’s territorial claims on Ukraine, but shows an special care in differenciating what it “might be” an invasion (war in Ukraine) and what is in an internal affair (Taiwan).

EU best commercial parter of China than Russia_2021
Composition © Eastwind.

But one should not China-Russia ties are not only rooted in the economic or territorial interests. Reading carefully the text of the cooperation agreement signed by both countries on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games show this crystal clear.

Russia has still room to “breathe”, despite isolation meassures and economic sanctions

Russia, Belarus, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Vietnam, Algeria, Bolivia, Burundi, Republic of Central Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia; Kyrgyzstan, Lao, Mali, Nicaragua, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan,Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zimbawe voted NO.

Those abstaining, included India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, El Salvador, Eswatini, Gambia,Ghana,Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Vincent, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Shri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad.Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Tanzania, Vanuatu and Yemen.

Votes on the resolution suspending Russia from theUN Human Rights Council_07_04_2022

The position of these countries show that Russia has still room for palliating more or less the economic and political isolation that the US, the European Union, United kingdom, Japan, Australia and other countries are imposing to the Russian Federation throug economic sanctions and resolutions in multilateral International organisations, while not ceasing the war in Ukraine.

Energy keeps on being a good asset that Russia has to negotiate, despite the European Union is taking steps to reduce dependence from gas, coal and oil from the Russian Federation and EU Commission has propposed to impose an import ban on coal from Russia, worth €4 Bn per year, among other sanctions included in what it will be the 5th sanctions package against Russia since Putin started off the war.

The current dependence of Russian gas in some EU countries is so high that it has become a matter of national security. Just to put an example, in an unprecedented legal act, the German State decided to take control of Gazprom Germania last Friday to avoid cuts in the gas supply from Russia in response to the sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia by the war in Ukraine. Gazprom controlls an essential part of the trade, transport and storage of Russian gas in this EU country.
While EU countries continue paying for Russian gas supplies, Eu money will keep on feeding the war machine of the Russian Federation.

Image over the headline.- UN General Assembly votes to suspend the rights of the membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council during an Emergency Special Session on Ukraine. UN Phot/Manuel Elías.

Related Eastwind links (English edition):

Putin secures China’s political support with agreement on 10Bn cubic metres gas supply on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022

UN ILO suspends cooperation with Russia till end of war in Ukraine

The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations in Ukraine initiated on 24th February 2022, the International Court of Justice decided today

The Council of Europe expels the Russian Federation today while Moscow announced its withdrawal yesterday

A month of war in Ukraine.- 64 verified attacks on health care, 18 million people affected, and less money than needed to help,WHO informs

Ukraine Crisis.- Germany takes first meassures against Russia: Nord Stream will not be approved, Olav Scholz says

UK and USA agreed on banning imports of Russian oil and EU Council discuss how to avoid energy dependence on Russia, but no closing of Ukraine’s sky

IEA, decided to prevent oil supply shortfalls through release of its reserves (UPDATED)

Related Eastwind links (Spanish edition):

La Comisión Europea presenta un completo abanico de opciones para paliar la subida de los precios de la energía, pero todas tienen un coste

La Comisión Europea presentará en mayo un plan con el fin de reducir gradualmente la dependencia energética de Rusia para 2027

Related external links:

UN Human Rights Council’s tweet announcing the suspension of The Russian Federation

Ursula von der Leyen (President of the EU Commission) informs on the 5th package of sanctions agains Russia

UNCHR video on the voting session

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