Russia Thinks Massacring Civilians Qualifies It For A Seat On Human Rights Council

REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Russia is pushing for reelection to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, despite its continued indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Syria.

The U.N. General Assembly is scheduled to vote for new members to the UNHRC in New York Friday. Russia, which is currently a member of the council, is competing with Hungary and Croatia for the Eastern Europe group spot. Moscow’s chance of reelection may be hindered by a coalition of more than 80 humanitarian groups who are encouraging U.N. members to vote against Russia.

“Russia’s actions in Syrian stand in clear contrast to its rhetorical commitment to human rights,” said a statement released by the coalition Monday. “Member states should particularly consider Russia’s indiscriminate attacks, its substantial weapons deliveries to the Syrian government and its efforts to prevent impartial accountability for serious crimes in Syria.”

Russia used its veto as a permanent member of the Security Council to block a widely popular resolution intended to relieve the ongoing crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Oct. 8. The city has been the target of numerous Russian and Syrian government air strikes.

Russia and Syrian government forces used incendiary and cluster bombs indiscriminately, according to the statement. Additionally, both governments are accused of deliberately targeting civilian hospitals across Syria and a humanitarian convoy delivering aid to Aleppo in September.

Moscow has promised if reelected to the council it will “promote states’ compliance with their international human rights obligations.”

The UNHRC has had several controversial members in its history. Saudi Arabia is currently a member, despite being accused of several human rights violations.

“The credibility and legitimacy of the Human Rights Council rest upon its members demonstrating a genuine commitment to human rights,” said the statement. “When deciding which Eastern European candidate to support, member states should carefully consider whether Russia’s Syria abuses are compatible with the principles and aims of the world’s principal inter-governmental human rights body.”

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