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October 18th, 2020

Remove Russia from UN Human Rights Council

topic:Human Rights
type:Petition
by:Yair Oded

After running unopposed and winning the votes of 158 member states, Russia was admitted last week to the UN Human Rights Council - a body chartered by the UN General Assembly to promote and defend human rights globally. 

Russia, a perennial violator of human rights both domestically and internationally, gravely threatens the credibility of the already weakened UN HRC, and will most likely utilise its position there to placate its crimes and impede attempts to hold it to account. 

At home, Russian President Vladimir Putin has progressively tightened the grip of his authoritarianism - eroding freedom of speech, expanding state-sponsored violence against activists, dissidents, and political rivals, and overall weakening democracy.

In its 2020 report on Russia, Human Rights Watch states that at Putin’s beckoning Russian authorities have been engaging in torture and cruel treatment of prisoners and have responded to rising waves of anti-government activism with a slew of repressive laws, bans, and crackdowns. Russia has also imposed stifling restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press, has all but vanquished the free-elections process, and has been violently oppressing the LGBTQ community and other minority groups in the country. 

On the international stage, Russia has been acting as purveyor of violence - ruthlessly bombing hospitals, schools, and civilians in Syria as part of its effort to aid Bashar Al Assad. In March 2020, a UN panel declared Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria a war crime

Russia has also illegally annexed Crimea and carried out ethnic cleansing in Georgia. 

Russia’s admission to the UN HRC has created a backlash from numerous organisations and activists who worry that this move will signal to Putin that he may continue unimpeded with his campaign of human rights violations. 

Prior to the elections, Vladimir Kara-Murza, chairman of the Free Russia Foundation, stated: "We have hundreds of political prisoners in Russia today. No free elections, no free mass media. Peaceful protesters are arrested and jailed," as he spoke against Russia’s admission to the Council. 

A petition launched by The Syria Campaign in support of 40 Syrian, Georgian, and Ukranian organisations is now pressuring member states to suspend Russia’s membership in the HRC and hold it “to the highest standard in the promotion and protection of human rights.” 

“In Syria [HRC] has played a vital role in independently investigating war crimes and violations of international human rights law, including those committed by Russia,” the petition states, adding that Russia could now undermine such efforts, as it did at the UN Security Council when it vetoed a resolution that would’ve bridled its military campaigns in Northern Syria. 

Please add your name to the petition by following the link. You may help spread the word about Russia’s admission to the HRC and the campaign to remove it from the Council on your social media platforms. 

Image: Mitya Aleshkovsky

act.thesyriacampaign.org