After Ukraine accused Russian troops of killing dozens of people in the town of Bucha, the US ambassador to the United Nations stated on Monday that the US will petition the United Nations General Assembly to expel Russia from the Human Rights Council.
A state can be suspended by the 193-member assembly in New York if it consistently commits grave and systematic abuses of human rights.
On a visit to Romania, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “Russia’s participation in the Human Rights Council is a farce.”
“And it’s wrong, which is why we feel the UN General Assembly should vote to have them removed.”
Thomas-Greenfield stated that she wants the vote to take place this week.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Assembly has passed two resolutions condemning Russia, both with 140 votes in favour. Russia claims to be conducting a “special operation” to demilitarise Ukraine.
“My message to those 140 countries who have bravely stood together is that the images coming out of Bucha and the devastation in Ukraine demand that we now match our words with action,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters during a visit to Romania.
According to Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, such an attempt would be difficult to gain widespread support.
“Washington is profiting from the Ukraine crisis by attempting to exclude or suspend Russia from international organisations, including the Human Rights Council here in Geneva,” Gatilov said.
Russia is in the second year of a three-year term on the 47-member council, which cannot make legally binding decisions but can authorise investigations and send strong political statements.
Last month it started an investigation into claims of rights breaches, including probable war crimes, in Ukraine since Russia’s incursion. The resolution, proposed by Ukraine, received 32 votes in favour. Russia and Eritrea voted no, while 13 countries abstained, including China.
Around 50 remains discovered after Russian forces retreated, according to Bucha’s deputy mayor, were the victims of extrajudicial killings by Russian troops.
Authorities in Ukraine claimed they were looking into alleged war crimes. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the killing of citizens in the town.
The US has claimed that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, and that US experts are compiling evidence to back up this claim.
A country has already been suspended from the council by the General Assembly. Libya was unanimously suspended in March 2011 due to violence by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi against protesters.