This Article is From Feb 28, 2022

UN Rights Council Votes For Urgent Debate On Ukraine War

Russia-Ukraine War: Russia's attack on Ukraine dominated the start of the UN body's main annual session with countries backing Kyiv's demand to put Russia's actions in the spotlight.

UN Rights Council Votes For Urgent Debate On Ukraine War

Ukraine War: Ukrainian envoy said Russia's attack was not only on Ukraine but on UN.


The UN Human Rights Council voted Monday to hold an urgent debate about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, further isolating Moscow which had resisted Kiev's attempt to shine a light on abuses committed in the war.

Russia's attack on Ukraine dominated the start of the UN body's main annual session in the Swiss city of Geneva, with countries rallying around Kyiv's demand to put Russia's actions in the spotlight.

Ukraine's ambassador in Geneva Yevheniia Filipenko warned that Russia's invasion, which has killed dozens of civilians and forced hundreds of thousands to flee, "was an attack not only on Ukraine."

"It was an attack on every UN member state, on the United Nations and on the principles that this organisation was created to defend" she told the council.

Russia, which has become an international pariah as its forces do battle on the streets of Ukraine's cities, rejected the call for a debate and demanded the issue be put to a vote.

But a full 29 of the council's 47 members backed Kyiv's request, while only five voted no, including Russia itself and China. Thirteen countries, mostly African, abstained from voting.

US Ambassador Sheba Crocker hailed the result as proof that "Russia is totally isolated at the council."

"The international community is united in condemning Russia's egregious action," she said in a statement.

'Tipping Point'

The debate on Ukraine is to take place on Thursday, after the initial high-level part of the council's five-week session, when ministers and top officials from over 140 countries will speak.

Ukraine on Monday presented a draft resolution to be discussed during the debate, calling for a high-level investigation into all alleged violations committed in the conflict, dating back to 2014 when the Kremlin annexed Crimea and supported a separatist movement in Ukraine's east.

In her opening statement Monday, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet pointed out that "throughout history, there have been moments of profound gravity, that cut the course of events between a 'before' and a very different, more harmful, 'after'."

"We are at such a tipping point," she warned.

She said her office had tallied more than 100 civilians, including seven children, killed in just the five days since the invasion began, warning the true death count was surely far higher.

Filipenko said Ukraine's health ministry had registered 350 deaths, including 16 children, since Thursday.

Lavrov In Geneva

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who along with President Vladimir Putin has been slapped with EU sanctions over the invasion, is expected to travel to Switzerland to address the rights council on Tuesday morning.

He is also expected to address the Conference on Disarmament and to host a press conference Tuesday, but his participation has been complicated by the fact that the European Union, which borders Switzerland, has closed its airspace to Russian flights.

The UN told news agency AFP that Guterres himself spoke Sunday "with relevant Russian and European authorities to help solve the problem."

Also on Tuesday, Lavrov's US, British and European Union counterparts are due to address the council via video message, with Ukraine's top diplomat scheduled to do the same on Wednesday.

Ukraine's raging conflict is expected to deepen the increasing polarisation seen at the council in recent years.

All the main actors in the conflict are currently members of the already heavily polarised council, including Russia, Ukraine and the United States, which rejoined last month after having been withdrawn by former president Donald Trump in 2018.

Rights groups in Geneva, including the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), have called on the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia's membership in the rights council over the invasion.

"It would be inconceivable that a state that has invaded a sovereign neighbour and denies its very right to exist should continue to serve in the world's primary human rights body," OMCT said in a statement.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)