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Ekaterina Blinova
Ekaterina Blinova
Ekaterina Blinova is a freelance journalist and has been a Sputnik contributor since 2014. She has a specialist's degree in history and specialises in US, European, Middle Eastern and Asian politics, international relations, sociology and high tech.

Russia’s Suspension From Human Rights Council Shows ‘Deep Erosion’ of UN System, Scholars Warn

The UN General Assembly (GA) on 7 April voted 93 to 24 to suspend Russia’s membership in Human Rights Council (UNHRC), with 58 countries abstaining from the vote.

It is the first time a permanent member of the UN Security Council has been banned from any UN body. What’s behind the move and is it damaging for Russia?

UN news

“I would not overestimate the consequences of the GA decision,” says Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, retired UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order. “The GA decision also puts a further nail on the coffin of the General Assembly itself. It manifests how the Assembly can and is manipulated by the United States and by the bullying, arm-twisting and blackmailing practices of the US Department of State.”

The UNGA move came in response to the demands by the United States and the G7 to suspend Russia’s membership in the body following uncorroborated reports an of alleged “massacre” of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. The Russian military had fully withdrawn from Bucha by 30 March in a goodwill gesture after the Istanbul round of peace talks between Moscow and Kiev. Although the Pentagon admitted that it cannot independently verify who was behind the killings, Washington and its NATO allies pointed the finger at Russia. Moscow has debunked the Bucha provocation, pointing to obvious inconsistencies in the story peddled by Kiev and the West.

In the aftermath of the UNGA vote Russia announced that it would leave UNHRC altogether before the end of its term, since the Council had been monopolised by a group of states which is using the body as a tool while blatantly violating human rights, or abetting those violations themselves.

According to de Zayas, one should not shed too many tears over the Human Rights Council, whose authority and credibility are questionable and whose resolutions are mostly ignored by many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel. Since its creation in 2006 the Human Rights Council has not served human rights well; instead it has certainly served the geopolitical and informational interests of the US and the EU, says the retired UN expert.

“This decision has no direct consequences. It’s only symbolic,” echoes Guy Mettan, a Swiss politician and journalist and former executive director of the Geneva Press Club. “The idea is to disparage Russia and to show its international isolation. It’s an episode of the propaganda war launched by the Western strategic communication against Russia.”

Meanwhile, one should bear in mind that less than half of the 193-member Assembly voted to suspend Russia, according to Dr. George Szamuely, senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute.

“Without question, the US used all sorts of coercive methods to win the votes,” Szamuely says. “Unfortunately, the Western powers have all sorts of ways of getting their way: they can threaten countries with sanctions, promise aid and loans, threaten diplomats with non-renewal of visas, etc. Russia doesn’t have such tools at its disposal.”

On 8 April, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic acknowledged that Belgrade had voted to suspend Russia’s membership in UNHRC under the threat of Western sanctions.

‘UNGA Should Boot US from UNHRC Over Invasion Spree’

The UNGA vote has once again demonstrated utter hypocrisy of the Western bloc, according to Michael Springmann, former American diplomat and political analyst. Earlier, the UK repeatedly blocked Russia’s requests to convene the UN Security Council summit to discuss the situation in Bucha and present its arguments to challenge Kiev’s account of events.

While vilifying Russia over uncorroborated reports of its involvement in the Bucha killings, the international institutions have yet to react to verified instances of violations of Geneva Conventions by Kiev. The latest gruesome video depicting cold-blooded murder of Russian POWs near Bucha has been recently recognised by the New York Times as genuine.

In addition to that, since 2014 UNHRC has largely ignored Kiev’s atrocities against peaceful civilians in Donbass and has done virtually nothing to stop the Ukrainian government’s war unleashed on its own people, according to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov, a permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office, and Alexander Brod, a member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation.

The latest UNGA vote has shown the weakening of the international rule of law, the UN system, as well as the decaying state of the international order, according to Guy Mettan.

“To be credible, the UN general Assembly should have taken a similar decision for the (attested) US war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Vietnam, Iraq (around 500 000 children killed by sanctions and bombings), Serbia, Afghanistan, Libya or even Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), and by any other country which has committed attested and supposed war crimes (for instance during colonial wars),” says the politician.

The suspension of Russia sets a dangerous precedent and further politicises the Human Rights Council, notes de Zayas. According to him, “isolating” a country is always counterproductive. What is truly needed is “greater inclusion and greater debate – not exclusion and hate-mongering,” the retired UN expert stresses.

“I think [the suspension of Russia in UNHRC] will drive the Russian Federation farther away from the United States and the European Union,” says Springmann. “I think it is a remarkably stupid decision. The Russian Federation is a large, powerful country with lots of resources, it’s a country that apparently has been targeted by the United States, which is trying to erase it from history, trying to erase its culture, its government and its religion – I don’t really think that this is going to succeed to any extent.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. You cannot isolate Russia. Majority of human population is not supporting what West is doing to Russia. US hegemony will end if the assumed world policing role after world war II is continuously abused by starting wars, proxy wars and regime changes for the benefit of the big arms industrial complex. It has reached a tipping point already.

    UN is no longer representing the will of the majority human population and countries.

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