Controversial Russia Bids to Reclaim UN Human Rights Council Seat Amid Accusations

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Russia, ousted last April from the United Nations Human Rights Council after invading Ukraine, is now seeking to regain its membership in the esteemed human rights committee. In an upcoming election marking a critical examination of Russia’s international reputation, diplomats from the country endeavor to secure a fresh three-year term for Russia on the council.

UN member nations have reportedly received a positional paper circulated by Russia lobbying for their support in the following month’s election. Within the document, Russia pledges “adequate solutions for human rights issues” and claims to combat the council’s exploitation as an “instrument which serves political wills of one group of countries.” This statement is generally perceived as alluding to Western nations.

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This campaign to reclaim international credibility aligns with ongoing accusations of human rights violations committed by Russia both inside its boundaries and in Ukraine. A new report from the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, presented to the human rights council recently, discloses continual evidence of war crimes, encompassing torture, rape, and attacks on civilians.

Meanwhile, Russia’s human rights situation has allegedly “significantly deteriorated,” according to a report from Mariana Katzarova, the UN’s special rapporteur for Russia. Critics of the Ukrainian invasion are now facing arbitrary arrests, torture, and ill-treatment.

In the imminent election scheduled for October 10, Russia will vie with Albania and Bulgaria for the two council seats reserved for central and eastern European countries. This election will involve the 193 members of the UN general assembly convening in New York.

As per some diplomats, Russia’s campaign is assertive, leveraging grains and arms as incentives to smaller countries in exchange for their votes. Therefore, the possibility of Russia returning to the council is considered plausible.

Russia’s circulated positional paper outlines its intention to “promote principles of cooperation and strengthening of constructive mutually respectful dialogue” within the council. It opposes the manipulation of the HRC to serve the political intent of a particular group of nations, punishing non-loyal governments.

A recent report concluded that Russia was “unqualified” for HRC membership amid commemorative groups, including UN Watch, the Human Rights Foundation and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights. Meanwhile, renowned authorities like the UK have expressed strong disapproval of Russia’s bid to re-enter the Human Rights Council.

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