U.N. Votes to Suspend Russia From Human Rights Council

In a surprise but moot move, Russia announced it was ending its membership in the rights council right after the Assembly voted to suspend it. The reason cited by Russian officials was that the council being “monopolized by one group of states who use it for their short term aims.”

The U.K. representative shot back comparing Russia to someone who hands in their resignation after they are fired from a job.

The action to suspend Russia came in the aftermath of Russia’s indiscriminate bombings in Ukraine and the reported killings and torture of civilians in the suburbs of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, that point to Russian culpability. Ukraine, the United States and other countries have said that the acts amount to war crimes.

Only four countries voted with Russia in two General Assembly resolutions in March that rebuked Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces.

The General Assembly, which elects members of the Human Rights Council, has suspended only one other country: Libya, in March 2011. But that action, taken after President Moammar al-Qaddafi launched a ferocious crackdown on antigovernment protesters, was taken with the support of Libyan diplomats in New York and Geneva who had dissociated themselves from the actions of their government.

Russia’s suspension, by contrast, comes in the face of its blanket denials of any rights violations in Ukraine. The Kremlin had warned that it would consider votes in support of the resolution or even abstentions as “unfriendly” acts that would have consequences for its relations with those countries.

Russia’s suspension is the first time one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council has lost its membership rights in any United Nations organization, rights groups said.