The United Nations voted Thursday to suspend Russia from its main human rights body, the U.N. Human Rights Council, for “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by Russian forces in Ukraine.
It might be good to have some context regarding this austere body that gave Russia the boot. The U.N. Human Rights Council consists of 47 members whose goal is to “protect and promote human rights around the world.” Current members of the UNHRC include this sampling:
- China – Currently carrying out acts against the Uighur people, which have been called genocide by many nations around the world.
- Saudi Arabia – Setting aside, for the moment, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the orders of leading members of the Saudi royal family, Saudi Arabia made its annual return to the Amnesty International report on human rights violations in 2021.
- Eritrea – For more than two decades, the government of Eritrea has carried out arbitrary killings, disappearances, torture, and forced detentions against religious and ethnic minorities deemed enemies of the authoritarian regime there.
- Pakistan – Violence against women is endemic throughout the country. At the beginning of the year, a report from Human Rights Watch noted: “Violence against women and girls – including rape, murder, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage – is endemic throughout Pakistan. Human rights defenders estimate that roughly 1,000 women are killed in so-called honor killings every year.”
The U.S. famously withdrew from the UNHRC during the Trump administration to protest the organization’s continued denouncement of Israel’s apartheid measures against the Palestinian people. The U.S. returned to the UNHRC under President Biden and led the way in this week’s vote to oust Russia.
Fifty-eight nations in the U.N. General Assembly abstained from voting on Russia’s removal from the UNHRC, expressing frustration that it was too early to rule on Russia’s alleged human rights violations in the Ukraine war.