The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, the second time any state was voted off the UNHRC and the first time a permanent member of the Security Council was suspended.
The resolution, which passed in a 93-24 vote with 54 abstentions, expressed “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.”
The initiative to suspend Russia from the UNHRC was led by Ukraine, with partners from every world region, including the United States, after horrific images emerged of civilian torture and execution in Bucha and other cities near Kyiv following the retreat of Russian forces from the area.
After the successful vote, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “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. Let us continue to hold Russia accountable for this unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war.”
The United States has previously assessed that members of Vladimir Putin’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, and the United States is working with allies and partners to support efforts by the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry to marshal evidence to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable.
Hailing the vote by the General Assembly to suspend Russia’s UNHRC membership, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “A wrong has been righted.” He wrote in a statement, “The atrocities the world has witnessed appear to be further evidence of war crimes, which serves as another indication that Russia has no place in a body whose primary purpose is to promote respect for human rights.”
Secretary Blinken declared that by voting to suspend Russia, “The world is sending another clear signal that Russia must immediately and unconditionally cease its war of aggression against Ukraine and honor the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. The international community will continue to hold Russia to account...and the United States will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they fight for their sovereignty, democracy, and freedom.”