The UN General Assembly on Thursday voted to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council, a proposal that was put forward by US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The measure passed with 93 votes in favor, 24 against, and 58 abstentions. China, Russia, Belarus, and Iran were among the members that voted against the proposal, while India abstained. The move makes Russia the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to have its membership stripped from a UN body.
Thomas-Greenfield introduced the proposal after Russia was accused of massacring civilians in Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Moscow strongly denies that it was responsible for the killings, and countries like India and China have called for independent investigations into the matter.
The Pentagon said this week that it can’t yet independently confirm Ukraine’s account of the atrocities in Bucha. On Tuesday, Julianne Smith, the US ambassador to NATO, said evidence was still being collected and that it is “too soon to say definitively what happened where.”
The UN Human Rights Council has 47 members who are elected by the General Assembly to serve a term of three years. The United Arab Emirates is currently a member of the council despite its role in the US-backed Saudi-led coalition that has been waging war on Yemen since 2015 and regularly kills civilians.
Another member of the Human Rights Council that has a history of killing civilians in conflicts is the US. Recent reporting from The New York Times revealed the massive civilian casualty rate in the US’s war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.