US to seek Russia’s suspension from UN Human Rights Council

“Russia’s participation on the Human Rights Council is a farce.”

By Associated Press

The United States plans to seek a suspension of Russia from its seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body amid increasing signs that Russian forces may have committed war crimes in Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday.

Thomas-Greenfield made the call for Russia to be stripped of its seat in the Human Rights Council in the wake of reports over the weekend about violence against civilians in the town of Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, after Russian forces pulled out. The reports have sparked a wave of outrage and condemnation against Russia.

“We believe that the members of the Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine, and we believe that Russia needs to be held accountable,” Thomas-Greenfield said in a press conference in Romania’s capital of Bucharest after she visited neighboring Moldova a day earlier.

Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around Kyiv that have been recaptured from Russian forces in recent days.

The U.S. official called Russia’s participation in the Human Rights Council a “farce” and said it hurts the body’s credibility. She said she would go to the Security Council Tuesday morning on her return to New York to “address Russia’s actions firmly and directly.”

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Any decision to suspend Russia would require a decision by the U.N. General Assembly in New York. In New York, General Assembly spokeswoman Paulina Kubiak said on Monday that no request for a meeting on the issue has yet been received.

Russia and the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, China, France, and the United States – all currently have seats on the 47-member state rights council, which is based in Geneva. The United States rejoined the council this year.

The Russian diplomatic mission in Geneva did not immediately comment on Thomas-Greenfield’s announcement.

Thomas-Greenfield mentioned the U.S. plan during a bilateral meeting with Romania’s Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, whose government she praised for its “extraordinary effort” in receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine. More than 600,000 refugees have fled to safety in Romania since Russia launched its attacks.

Thomas-Greenfield also visited the Romanian capital’s main train station where she met with humanitarian workers helping to receive refugees.

Thomas-Greenfield’s visit to Romania came a day after she met with leaders in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, where she announced that the U.S. will give the country $50 million (45 million euros) “to help the Government of Moldova and its people cope with the impacts of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war.”

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Moldova, a former Soviet republic with a population of around 2.6 million — has so far received around 400,000 refugees from war-torn Ukraine. The $50 million assistance is in addition to more than $30 million the U.S. has provided Moldova for its humanitarian efforts during the crisis.

“Today, I was able to see firsthand the way your government and the Moldovan people have come together to embrace those – mostly women and children – who have been forced to leave behind everything they have and people they dearly love to flee to safety,” Thomas-Greenfield said Sunday.