The United Nations voted Thursday to remove Russia from its Human Rights Council following mounting evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, including the alleged massacre of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians by retreating Russian forces in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb.
The U.N. General Assembly voted 93-24 to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member council, surpassing the needed two-thirds majority.
Another 58 countries abstained from the vote, including Brazil, India and Mexico.
The Group of Seven — which consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — called for Russia’s suspension from the council in a joint statement Thursday morning, citing the “list of atrocities and severe violations of international law” committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including in Bucha.
In an appeal to the General Assembly ahead of the vote, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N., said a vote in favor of suspension would “save the Human Rights Council and many lives around the world.” A vote against Russia’s removal “means pulling a trigger, and it means a red dot on the screen, red as the blood of the innocent lives lost,” said Kyslytsya.
What To Watch For
Russia’s response to its suspension. Russia’s mission to the U.N. warned in a memo to other countries obtained by Reuters on Wednesday any vote in favor of removing Russia to the council or abstention would be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” and have consequences on diplomatic relations with Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded Russia’s removal from the U.N. Security Council in a Tuesday video address. It’s a near impossibility, as Russia would effectively need to approve its own removal as it holds veto power as one of the Security Council’s permanent members.