U.S. Senators want Russia removed from U.N. Human Rights Council
Patricia Zengerle – March 29, 2022
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A dozen members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged President Joe Biden’s administration to push for Russia’s removal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, citing its invasion of Ukraine.
In a letter dated Monday and made public on Tuesday, the eight Democrats and four Republicans asked the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, to introduce a resolution to remove Russia from the rights body, citing widespread casualties in Ukraine and the destruction of residential buildings, hospital and schools.
Support for Ukraine is one of the rare areas of bipartisan agreement in the bitterly divided U.S. Congress, which has approved billions of dollars in aide for the government in Kyiv.
“Swift action must be taken to show the world the United States and our allies will not stand for indiscriminate and unprovoked attacks on civilians and democracies. The time has come for Russia to no longer have a seat on the Council,” said the letter, led by the committee’s top Republican, Senator Jim Risch, and its Democratic chairman, Senator Bob Menendez.
In the letter, the senators said states engaging in a pattern of gross and systemic rights abuses can be removed by a two-thirds vote in the U.N. General Assembly.
“We implore you to introduce a resolution in the UN General Assembly to call for the removal of the Russian Federation from the UNHRC immediately,” they wrote.
American officials at the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York referred a request for comment to the office in Geneva, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Human Rights Council is based in Geneva.
Russia, which has called its actions since Feb. 24 a “special operation,” has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.
Only one country has been suspended from the 47-member Geneva-based council: Libya. The North African country was suspended in 2011 because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to its then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Some senior officials addressing the council during a meeting earlier this month questioned Russia’s membership, but did not explicitly call for its suspension.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Stephen Coates and Jonathan Oatis)