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UN Human Rights Council agrees to monitor abuses in Russia

October 7, 2022

The UN Human Rights Council agreed to monitor the rights situation in Russia. The move marks the first resolution focused on rights violations inside Russia.

Inside the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland
China, Cuba and Venezuela were among the countries that voted against the motionImage: Salvatore Di Nolfi/KEYSTONE/picture alliance

The United Nation's top human rights body voted on Friday to set up an independent investigator into alleged abuses of human rights in Russia.

Of the 47 members on the UN Human Rights Council, 17 voted in favor and 6 against, with 24 abstaining.

The resolution marks the first time the Human Rights Council has agreed to establish a special rapporteur to investigate the human rights record of one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

During the yearlong appointment, the rapporteur will "collect, examine and assess relevant information from all relevant stakeholders, including Russian civil society both inside and outside of the country," according to the resolution.

Moscow responded to the successful vote by declaring that it will refuse to cooperate with any independent expert appointed by the UN, Russian news agency TASS reported.

Russia's deteriorating human rights situation

The draft proposal was put forward by Luxembourg on behalf of all EU member states, except for Hungary.

Luxembourg's ambassador to the UN bodies in Geneva, Marc Bichler, pointed to the "deterioration as regards the human rights situation" in Russia that had "been exacerbated over recent months.

"Recent draconian laws seeking to stifle independent media as well as undesirable organizations, severe sanctions for anyone calling into question the government, with a huge number of people who've been arrested at demonstrations, are just a few recent examples of the systematic repressive policies that have been documented by numerous independent sources," Bichler added.

The vote targeting Russia came on the 16th anniversary of the killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya — as well as the 70th birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia increasingly isolated by international community

Friday's vote also came hours after the announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners which included rights organizations in Russia and Ukraine, as well as a Belarusian activist.

Nobel panel announces winners of Peace Prize

The vote was condemned by Russian Ambassador Gennady Gatilov who called it an example of "the way in which Western countries are using the council to attain their political goals."

The UN General Assembly has previously condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and called on Moscow to end the conflict. It also voted to throw Russia out of the Human Rights Council.

However, on Thursday, the Council voted not to open a debate on China's alleged abuse of Uyghur Muslims in its Xinjiang province.

China was one of the Council members to vote against the special rapporteur on Friday.

ab/sms (AFP, AP)