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Press point with Ambassador Olof Skoog following the UN General Assembly's decision to suspend Russia's membership in the Human Rights Council

07.04.2022

Press point with Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, following the UN General Assembly's decision to adopt a resolution on the suspension of membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council

Transcript

Good morning,

I just want to say very briefly that the General Assembly has taken another very, very significant decision this morning to suspend the Russian Federation from the Human Rights Council. 93 votes in favour. I have to be very open with you and say that that exceeded our expectations because we know that Russia has been engaged in a pretty strong campaign against this vote. So, with all that going on, I think it is a very significant outcome. This is a clear message to the Russian Federation that the accountability clock is ticking and that violations of International Law and Human Rights law will pay a price. That there is a preventive message here as well. That, if this continues, there will be further measures down the line.

And also I think it is a very significant decision in terms of the credibility of the United Nations and its bodies, because the Human Rights Council, having a membership of countries that violate the Human Rights law like Russia is doing right now would be a disaster for the credibility of the United Nations. I just wanted to say that. That is also our message today. That accountability will be there one day to those responsible for the violations of Human Rights that go on in Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Thank you very much.

Q: What is your reaction to the number of abstentions and against? It’s quite a few, a bit more than last time.

O.S: Well, you have to understand that the United Nations is made up of countries, some of them have a troublesome record on Human Rights. So when it comes to these kinds of decisions, very operational about the suspension of the Human Rights Council, some countries will be concerned about that. As I said, Russia has launched a very aggressive campaign against this vote today and that has also affected, I think, some countries’ decisions. Some countries still feel that they are far away from this conflict. They prefer not to take sides. So, with all that adding up, I think it is a very impressive number that has spoken up today. And, just to me, it shows that Russia continues to be very, very isolated in their actions in Ukraine.

Q: Would this result in the further polarization of the Human Rights body?

O.S: On the polarization? Well, if there is any polarization, it is Russia who is doing it. So I think, as I said before, the credibility of this organization also depends on the ability to respond to violations like this. And I think we have been successful up to now to counter the fact that Russia has a veto in the Security Council by moving those dossiers to the General Assembly where there has been a very, very strong expression of isolation against Russia, again today.