Most MENA states abstain from UN Human Rights Council vote to suspend Russia

Most MENA states abstain from UN Human Rights Council vote to suspend Russia
A vast majority of MENA nations abstained from the vote to expel Russia from the human rights body - including all six Gulf states.
2 min read
08 April, 2022
Two-thirds of all General Assembly nations voted to suspend Russia [Getty]

Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa region abstained in Thursday's UN General Assembly vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over its actions in Ukraine

The resolution, pushed by the US and its allies, sought to expel Russia from the human rights body because of its “apparent execution-style killings of civilians” and "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights". 

Ninety-three countries voted in favour of the resolution, including Libya and Turkey.

However, a vast majority of MENA nations abstained from the vote, including all six Gulf states.

In early March, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE - all US allies - voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution demanding Russia halt its invasion of Ukraine and withdraw all troops.

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But speaking after the vote, Saudi Arabia's representative at the UN General Assembly, Mohammed al-Ateeq, said the resolution set "a serious precedent that threatens multilateral work and runs counter to the principles of international law."

Algeria, Iran and Syria were among the 24 countries that voted against the suspension. 

“This decision represents another example of manipulation by US & its allies of UN human rights mechanisms & adds insult to the injury of HRC credibility” tweeted Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the UN Hussam Edin Aala after the vote. 

This is the second such suspension in the history of the rights body.

Libya, which voted to suspend Russia, was excluded in 2011 because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Qaddafi. Its membership was restored eight months later, after Qaddafi was overthrown.

The Human Rights Council reviews UN member states’ records on human rights and provides recommendations. Its 47 members are elected by the 193-nation general assembly in New York for three-year terms.

Under the 2006 resolution that established the Council, the General Assembly can suspend a country from membership if it commits grave human rights abuses.

Rights organisations have criticised the body for allowing the continued membership of countries with chequered records, including Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. 

Russia has been accused of war crimes and even genocide after hundreds of bodies were found in the Ukrainian town of Bucha following Moscow's withdrawal from the area.

Some bodies were found in mass graves, while others were found hands tied behind backs.

Russia has also been condemned for bombing civilian areas.