In the News April 13
Disinformation About War Crimes in Ukraine
Unacceptable Suspension of Russia from UN Human Rights Council
On April 7, the U.S. initiated a resolution in a special emergency session of the UN General Assembly, calling for Russia’s suspension from the 47-member Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which it was elected to sit on for three years starting in January 2021. The brief resolution expressed “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, particularly at the reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation, including gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights.”
A country’s membership in the Human Rights Council can be suspended by the General Assembly if the country “commits gross and systematic violations of human rights,” which is what Russia was accused of. The resolution was adopted with the support of less than half of the total UN membership – 93 of 193 countries. The remaining 100 countries either opposed it (24), abstained (58) or did not participate in the vote (18).
The requirement for suspending a country’s membership in the Human Rights Council is a 2/3 majority of those present and voting for or against the resolution, with abstentions not included in the total. In this case, that would require a vote of 90 countries in favour of the suspension. This rule is an anomaly in the UN system, setting a much lower bar for suspending a country’s membership than for approving it. The rule was instituted at the insistence of the U.S. when the Council was founded in 2006.
Coverage of the vote on the UN website said the resolution targeting Russia was drawn up “in the wake of recently revealed images and testimonies of atrocities perpetrated against the civilian population of Ukraine.” It is very pertinent that said “images and testimonies” all come from a U.S./NATO-propped up Ukrainian government and sources linked to mercenaries and the media of U.S./NATO countries. Even the media have shown no interest in inquiring into the truth of the matter. It is also pertinent that Russian sources and evidence are treated with utter disdain and rejected out of hand as fake news, forgeries and the like.
To demonize Russia so as to suspend it from the Human Rights Council, the date chosen for the vote, April 7, is the day observed every year by the UN as the anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. The Ukrainian ambassador made that a central theme of his intervention when he introduced the text of the draft resolution, drawing a contrived parallel between Rwanda and Ukraine. He said the genocide that took place in Rwanda was largely due to “the indifference of the world’s community, when the UN did not respond to warnings in the UN Security Council and in the General Assembly, a year before the tragedy that we commemorate exactly on this day. Today, in the case of Ukraine, it is not even a year, because the tragedy is unfolding right now before our eyes.”
The only other country ever suspended under that rule was Libya — in 2011, shortly before the U.S. and NATO invaded it after manipulating the UN Security Council to approve a “no fly zone” on the pretext of “protecting civilians” from the alleged violent human rights abuses of Muammar Gaddafi. Removing Gaddafi from power was not enough however for the aggressors. U.S./NATO and their proxies executed him extrajudicially and went on to destroy the country, turning it into a base for terrorists to attack Syria. After all that, a chastened Libya was readmitted to the Human Rights Council, while those who instrumentalized human rights to carry out regime change and destroy the country enjoyed impunity.
Russia said the attempt to expel it from the Human Rights Council is a political act by countries that want to preserve their dominant position and control over the world. Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Gennady Kuzmin, told a special UNGA session on Ukraine before the vote that the U.S.-led resolution “has nothing to do with the human rights situation on the ground.”
“What we see is an attempt by the U.S. to maintain its dominant position and total control, to continue its attempt at human rights colonialism,” Kuzmin said.
Kuzmin announced after the vote that Russia had decided to resign from the Human Rights Council before the expiry of its term (December 2023). He said Russia considered the resolution to suspend its rights of membership in the Council as “an illegitimate and politically motivated step designed as a demonstrative punishment of a sovereign UN member state that is carrying out independent internal and external policies.” The Council was in fact monopolized by a single group of states that exploits the mechanism to achieve their opportunistic goals, he said, adding that they do not hesitate to blackmail sovereign nations to get the required votes.
TML Daily, posted April 13, 2022.