Russia suspended from UN Human Rights Council following invasion of Ukraine

7 April 2022, 16:55 | Updated: 7 April 2022, 17:41

The UN's General Assembly has suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
The UN's General Assembly has suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The UN's General Assembly has suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council in a historic vote.

The motion was passed in a vote on Thursday with 93 in favour, 24 against, and 58 abstentions.

The resolution passed by the 193-member General Assembly draft expressed "grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine," particularly at reports of rights abuses by Russia.

Among those opposing Russia's suspension were China, Belarus and North Korea.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield launched the campaign to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council in the wake of videos and photos of streets in the Ukrainian town of Bucha strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians after Russian soldiers retreated.

The deaths have sparked global revulsion and calls for tougher sanctions on Russia, which has denied its troops were responsible.

Suspensions from the human rights council are extremely rare. Libya was suspended in 2011 over attacks on protesters by forces loyal to the country's then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and cannot be removed.

Suspending it from the UNHRC is therefore seen as a significant way for the UN to show its disapproval of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Russia was now a "global pariah".

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She said "the barbaric actions of Putin's regime in Ukraine and the mounting evidence of war crimes mean Russia can no longer have a seat" on the Human Rights Council.

It comes after Vladimir Putin's actions in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, were condemned as "war crimes" by a number of world leaders.

Russian troops were accused of committing several war crimes in the city after the mass killings of innocent civilians and reported rape of women and children.

Read more: 'The new Auschwitz': Bodies of '10,000 Ukrainians' incinerated in mobile crematoriums

Bodies lined the streets of Bucha, with mass graves discovered following the withdrawal of Russian troops.

Some civilians were reportedly found with their hands tied behind their backs and their tongues cut off.

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov said the behaviour of Russian troops was "utterly inhuman".

He said: "This is what the SS troops used to do in the past.

"This evil simply cannot go unpunished.

"Our intelligence is consistently identifying all invaders and killers. All of them!

"And each killer will at his own time get what he deserves."