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The United States today raised the question at the Human Rights Council as to whether Russia, which has invaded and started a war in Ukraine, can remain a member of this body, whose primary role is the promotion and defense of fundamental rights around the world.
“One can reasonably ask whether a UN member state that tries to take over another UN member state – while committing horrific human rights abuses and causing massive humanitarian suffering – should be allowed to remain on this Council,” said the diplomat, Antony Blinken, in a video message to the Human Rights Council meeting held in Geneva.
He denounced that allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by Russia in its offensive in Ukraine are increasing “by the hour.”
The Council is made up of 47 countries that go through a selection process to become members of this body for three-year terms.
“Russian strikes are hitting schools, hospitals, and residential buildings. They are destroying critical infrastructure, which provides millions of people across Ukraine with drinking water, gas to keep them from freezing to death, and electricity. Civilian buses, cars, and even ambulances have been shelled. Russia is doing this every day – across Ukraine,” he denounced.
Blinken warned that if the Russian government succeeds in overthrowing the government of Volodymir Zelensky, “the human rights and humanitarian crises will only get worse” and gave the example of Crimea, where he said the Russian occupation has been responsible for “extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities.”
The Secretary of State recalled that repression is also taking place inside Russia, where thousands of people are being detained for the simple fact of peacefully demonstrating against the invasion, as well as journalists who were covering these events.
Blinken urged the Human Rights Council to show unity in the face of this situation and not to be swayed by the discourse that denouncing violations of freedoms and rights is tantamount to “politicizing” the debates.
He also called for the rejection of Russia’s argument, which earlier in the day at the same forum attempted to justify its incursion into Ukraine by claiming that its intention is to protect the Russian-speaking community that is allegedly being attacked and humiliated.