The U.N. General Assembly unanimously voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the world organization’s leading human rights body over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, which the United States and Ukraine have called war crimes.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the vote “a historic moment,” telling the assembly: “We have collectively sent a strong message that the suffering of victims and survivors will not be ignored” and that Russia must be held accountable “for this unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war.”
The campaign to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council was launched in the wake of videos and photos showing streets in the town of Bucha strewn with the bodies of civilians after Russian soldiers retreated. The deaths have sparked global revulsion and calls for tougher sanctions on Russia, which has vehemently denied its troops were responsible.
Before Russia’s suspension, Libya, was suspended in 2011 by the assembly when upheaval in the North African country brought down longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The vote on the U.S. initiated resolution suspending Russia was 93-24 with 58 abstentions, significantly lower than on two resolutions the assembly adopted last month demanding an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine, withdrawal of all Russian troops and protection for civilians. Both of those resolutions were approved by at least 140 nations.