Russia denied bid to regain seat on UN Human Rights Council

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya, left, shuffles papers as he listens to Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, during a meeting of the UN Security Council as the war in Ukraine and recent attacks by Russia were discussed Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP/Craig Ruttle)
Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya, left, shuffles papers as he listens to Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, during a meeting of the UN Security Council as the war in Ukraine and recent attacks by Russia were discussed Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP/Craig Ruttle)

AP — Russia was defeated in its bid to regain a seat in the UN’s premiere human rights body by a significant majority in Tuesday’s election in the General Assembly, which voted last year to suspend Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia was competing against Albania and Bulgaria for two seats on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council representing the East European regional group.

In the secret ballot vote, Bulgaria got 160 votes, Albania received 123 votes and Russia just 83 votes.

Russia has claimed that it has support from a silent majority, and even though 83 votes came from less than half the 193 UN member nations, there is certain to be a concern, especially by Ukraine and its Western allies, that Moscow’s support was that high.

Moscow’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia had accused the United States on Monday of leading a campaign to prevent their return to the council.

“The main phobia of our American colleagues today is electing Russia to the Human Rights Council,” Nebenzia told a Security Council meeting called by Ukraine on last week’s strike by a Russian missile on a Ukrainian soldier’s wake in a small village that killed 52 people.

The United States and others sent letters to many of the 193 members of the General Assembly urging a vote against Russia, according to diplomats. Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, was among the non-government letter-writers also urging Russia’s defeat.

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