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UN approves Czech Republic to replace Russia on rights body

AP – The United Nations (UN) General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday for the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the world organisation’s leading human rights body following its suspension over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

The Czech Republic was the only candidate for the seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council. Seats on the Geneva-based council are divided among regional groups and a replacement for Russia had to come from an East European country.

In Tuesday’s secret ballot vote, 180 of the General Assembly’s 193 members deposited ballots. The result was 157 countries in favour of the Czech Republic and 23 abstentions.

The assembly approved a United States (US)-initiated resolution on April 7 to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council by a vote of 93-24 with 58 abstentions.

The vote was significantly lower than on two resolutions the assembly adopted in March demanding an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine, withdrawal of all Russian troops and protection for civilians. Both of those resolutions were approved by at least 140 nations.

After the General Assembly suspended Russia, its deputy ambassador Gennady Kuzmin told UN members that Russia had withdrawn from the Human Rights Council before the vote.

Council spokesman Rolando Gomez said that by withdrawing, Russia avoided being deprived of observer status at the rights body.

Since its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russia has lost its spot on multiple UN bodies, including the executive boards of UN Women and the UN children’s agency UNICEF, the Committee on Non-governmental Organizations and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. PHOTO: AP