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UN votes Russia out of human rights council citing Bucha killings

Click to play video: 'UN votes Russia out of human rights council citing Bucha killings' UN votes Russia out of human rights council citing Bucha killings
WATCH: UN votes Russia out of human rights council citing Bucha killings – Apr 7, 2022

The United Nations General Assembly suspended Russia from its human rights body on Thursday over the war in Ukraine, forcing Moscow to quit the body.

The vote to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council comes several weeks after the country invaded Ukraine, and just days after reports of a massacre of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, just outside of Kyiv.

The vote count was 93 in favour of the resolution, 24 against and 58 abstentions.

“Russia is not only committing human rights violations, it is undermining international peace and security,” said Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the UN prior to the vote.

Read more: Russia carried out extrajudicial civilian killings in Ukraine, Amnesty International says

The resolution to vote Russia out of the premier human rights body was initiated by the United States following the Bucha killings. Russia has vehemently denied the allegations, despite the mounting evidence.

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After the vote, Russia’s deputy UN Ambassador Gennady Kuzmin called the decision an “illegitimate and politically motivated step” and then announced that Russia had decided to quit the Human Rights Council altogether.

“You do not submit your resignation after you are fired,” Kyslytsya told reporters later.

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Russia was in its second year of a three-year term. Under Thursday’s resolution, the General Assembly could have later agreed to end the suspension, but that can’t happen now, since Russia has quit.

The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the United Nations “sent a clear message that the suffering of victims and survivors will not be ignored.”

The resolution focused on “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, particularly at the reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation, including gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights.”

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Read more: Vladimir Putin’s daughters now sanctioned by the U.S. Here’s why

Russia’s response to the vote has largely comprised of warning countries that there could be punitive bilateral measures if they are removed from the human rights council. A Russian representative to the UN argued that the killings Bucha and the war in Ukraine were being misrepresented by the West.

On Mar 24, the UNGA voted 140-5 with 38 absentees on a resolution blaming Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and called for an immediate cease-fire in civilian areas.

Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and holds veto power in that body. No permanent member of the UNSC has ever had membership suspended from any UN body.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed a possible reform to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) during his address on Tuesday. He said the council could either remove Russia so that it “cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war” or come forward with its own ideas for reform.

The only country to have membership rights stripped was Libya in 2011 during the Arab Spring when longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi’s government was overthrown.

— with files from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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