Photo Credit: Marcello Casal JR / Agência Brasil / Wikimedia
Meeting on the eve of the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2007

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to suspend the Russian Federation from the 47-member UN Human Rights Council in response to accumulating evidence of war crimes carried out by its forces in Ukraine.

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It is the first time since the founding of the world body that a permanent member of the UN Security Council has been suspended.

Israel supported the resolution to suspend Russia’s membership on the UN Human Rights Council “in the wake of the war in Ukraine, Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, and the killing of innocent civilians,” the foreign ministry said in a statement following the vote.

“Today’s vote doesn’t change our position regarding the UN Human Rights Council, which is an extremist, morally-flawed, biased, and in its very essence, an anti-Israel body that has been exploited as a political tool since its establishment by the world’s main human rights violators in order to, among other things, attack Israel,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said.

Along with Russia, the US, UK, France and China comprise the five permanent members of the UNSC, and all hold seats on the Human Rights Council as well.

The resolution, initially sponsored by the US, UK and Australia, was passed Thursday in a vote of 93 to 24, with 58 abstentions. More than 50 other nations had added their names as sponsors of the resolution by the time it came to a vote. A two-thirds majority was required to pass it, not counting abstentions.

The resolution said there were “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”.

Gennady Kuzmin, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, told the General Assembly before Thursday’s vote that the resolution “has nothing to do with the human rights situation on the ground.

““What we see is an attempt by the US to maintain its dominant position and total control, to continue its attempt at human rights colonialism,” he said.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.