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Russia fails to regain seat on UN Human Rights Council

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 11, 2023 5:14 AM 2 min read
UN General Assembly delegates wait for the election results of new members to the Human Rights Council on Oct. 10, 2023. (Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia failed to gain enough votes in the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 10 to win back its seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Russia attempted to compete with Albania and Bulgaria for the council's two open eastern European seats. Bulgaria won 160 votes and a seat on the council, while Albania took 123 and the second open slot.

With only 83 votes, Russia's bid was unsuccessful.

Russia was kicked out of the U.N.'s human rights body during a special session on April 7, 2022, shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The motion passed with 93 votes cast in favor, 25 against, and 58 abstentions.

Officials backing the motion said it signaled the "international community's strong censure of Moscow's aggressive actions toward a neighboring state."

In the days leading up to the Oct. 10 vote, officials raised concerns that Russia would leverage its control over wartime grain shipments and arms and energy sales to gain support.

In addition, diplomats cited growing fatigue of the war among African and Asian countries as a factor Russia could exploit in order to secure votes for the council.

Despite these concerns, Russia did not manage to win enough support to sway the election in its favor.

Russia has committed a number of human rights violations during its all-out war against Ukraine.

These include deliberate murder of civilians, shelling of civilian areas, torture, sexual violence, and abduction of children. Several countries have recognized Russia's crimes against Ukraine as genocide.

A report by the U.N. Watch, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights published in September concluded that Russia is "unqualified" for membership in the Human Rights Council.

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