Russia failed to win its bid to get re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday due to its combined military offensive in Syria. Russia getting 112 votes came behind Hungary (144 votes) and Croatia (114 votes) in a secret ballot by the 193-member UN General Assembly.
“It was a very close vote,” Vitaly Churkin Russia’s UN Ambassador told reporters.
“Croatia, Hungary – they are fortunate because of their size, they are not as exposed to the winds of international diplomacy; Russia is quite exposed,” he said
Russia’s has been giving air support to Syrian army in a six-year-old civil war. It was in 2015 that Russia started it’s military intervention following a request from Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad.
A recent offensive to capture rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo city which left more than 12000 people dead led to international criticism.
Russia was competing for a second three-year term where its current term expires on this December. Members of the council which hosts 47 nations cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.
U.N. director at Human Rights Watch,Louis Charbonneau said: “U.N. member states have sent a strong message to the Kremlin about its support for a regime that has perpetrated so much atrocity in Syria”.
Saudi Arabia, which also faces criticism for its military campaign in Yemen won the second term. The nomination of Saudi Arabia from Asia-Pacific region was uncontested. China, South Africa, and Britain also won a second term without contenders. In the other competitive slate, Cuba and Brazil came out as winners.
“The re-election of China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia – regimes which systematically violate the human rights of their citizens – casts a shadow upon the reputation of the United Nations,” said U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.”
Saudi Arabia started its military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen last year. Since then the country has been criticised by the international community for its human rights violations.