Russia is seeking re-admission to the United Nations Human Rights Council in an election considered as a litmus test of its international status.
It was kicked from of the UN’s top human rights council in April after its military invaded Ukraine.
However, Russian diplomats are now attempting to re-elect their nation to the council for a new three-year term. The election will be held next month.
Russia vows in the statement to find “adequate solutions for human rights issues” and to keep the council from becoming a “instrument that serves the political wills of one group of countries,” a reference to the West.
According to diplomats, Russia is attempting to rebuild international credibility after being accused of human rights violations in Ukraine and within its own borders.
The most recent evidence of these violations was submitted to the Human Rights Council on Monday in the form of a report from its Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.
The chair of the panel, Erik Mose, stated that there was ongoing evidence of war crimes like as torture, rape, and assaults on civilians.
Separately, the UN’s special rapporteur for Russia, Mariana Katzarova, stated two weeks ago that the human rights situation in Russia had “significantly deteriorated,” with opponents of the invasion exposed to arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and harsh treatment.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is headquartered in Geneva and has 47 members who are chosen for three-year terms.
Russia will fight with Albania and Bulgaria for the two seats on the council allotted for central and eastern European nations in the next elections, which are scheduled for 10 October.
All 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly in New York will vote. According to diplomats there, Russia is lobbying hard, offering grain and armaments in exchange for support from tiny countries.
As a result, they stated that Russia may rejoin the council at any time.
According to the Russian position document, which has been published at the UN, the country aims to “promote cooperation principles and strengthen constructive mutually respectful dialogue in the council in order to find adequate solutions for human rights issues.”
Its main selling point is that Russia will use its membership “to prevent the HRC from becoming an instrument that serves the political will of one group of countries.” It stated that it does not want that organization to “punish non-loyal governments for their independence and foreign policy.”
Russia was suspended from the Human Rights Council in April 2022, with 93 UN General Assembly members voting in favor, 24 against, and 58 abstention. Russia blames its loss of membership on “the United States and its allies” in its position paper.
Three campaign groups, UN Watch, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, agreed last month that Russia was “unqualified” for HRC membership.
“Re-electing Russia to the council now, while its war on Ukraine is still ongoing, would be counterproductive for human rights and would send a message that the UN is not serious about holding Russia accountable for its crimes in Ukraine,” the study stated.
The United Kingdom has stated that it “strongly opposes” Russia’s attempt to rejoin the Human Rights Council.
A representative for the Foreign Office stated: “Widespread evidence of Russia’s human rights abuses and violations in Ukraine and against its own citizens, including those highlighted by the UN’s special rapporteur on Russia just last week, demonstrates Russia’s complete contempt for the work of the council.”
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, stated that Russia had perpetrated atrocities in Ukraine, that its leader had been charged for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, and that Russia had showed complete disregard for the UN Charter.
The thought that Russia could return to the Human Rights Council is an affront to the very essence of human rights and an unacceptable backwards step that could harm its credibility,” according to him. “The government should work intensively with countries who have refused in the past to make the case that the basic principles of the United Nations must be upheld.”