The United Nations’ General Assembly has voted to suspend Russia from its leading body for human rights following allegations that its soldiers killed civilians during a retreat from Ukraine’s capital.
After meeting on Thursday, 7 April, UN members voted in favour of suspending Russia, with 93 votes in favour, 24 against and 58 countries abstaining.
“War criminals have no place in UN bodies aimed at protecting human rights,” tweeted Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, after the vote. “Grateful to all member states which supported the relevant UNGA resolution and chose the right side of history.”
Recent reports of mass deaths after Russia’s retreat in Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, have shocked nations around the world. Images have shown bodies of civilians strewn across the streets, sparking allegations against Russia of war crimes.
US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who launched the move to suspend Russia from the human rights council, described the decision as a “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.”
Among the countries that voted in favour of the resolution were the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. China, Iran and Cuba were among the countries that voted against.
Meanwhile, Russia it has blacklisted 130 New Zealand politicians and officials from entering the country, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, following the New Zealand governments escalated sanctions against Russian leaders, oligarchs and trade.
“This step was taken in response to the unfriendly actions of the New Zealand Cabinet of Ministers, which joined the campaign initiated by the US and its satellites to contain Russia,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a translated statement.
Ardern said on Monday “Russia must answer to the world for what it has done. It goes without saying that these atrocities are against international law.”