Russia under fire at Human Rights Council over Aleppo
RUSSIA’S seat on the UN Human Rights Council is under threat due to its support of the Syrian government’s air campaign in Aleppo.
More than 80 human rights and aid organisations, including Human Rights Watch, CARE International and Refugees International, have urged UN member states to drop Russia from the Genevabased Human Rights Council over its military campaign in Syria.
In a joint statement published on Monday, the organisations urged UN member states to “question seriously whether Russia’s role in Syria — which includes supporting and undertaking military actions which have routinely targeted civilians and civilian objects — renders it fit to serve on the UN’s premier inter-governmental human rights institution”.
“Russia’s gross disregard for civilian lives in Syria and its responsibility for illegal attacks makes it unfit to serve on the council,” Louis Charbonneau of Human Rights Watch, the US-based rights watchdog, told Al Jazeera. “It is complaisant in Syrian government war crimes. “Russia continues to sell arms to the Syrian government despite its horrific abuses including the use of chemical weapons.”
Elections to fill 14 seats at the 47-nation Human Rights Council will take place at the UN General Assembly tomorrow.
Created in 2006, the council monitors violations and in particular set up a ground-breaking commission of inquiry on North Korea that led to calls for war-crimes prosecutions of the country’s government.
The council last week asked the commission of inquiry for Syria to carry out a special investigation of rights abuses in Aleppo.
Russia, Hungary and Croatia will be running for two seats representing the Eastern European group at the council, which is entrusted with addressing rights violations worldwide.
“Russia is not the only candidate country facing criticism,” Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, reporting from Geneva, said.
“Campaigners point to the poor human rights records of China and Egypt and civilian casualties caused by Saudi Arabia as the leading member of the coalition in Yemen.”
Russia has been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s war against opposition fighters and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group since September 2015. — Al Jazeera