June 20 2018 - 11:06

As U.S. Withdraws, Russia Seeks UN Human Rights Council Seat

Steve Calcott / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Russia has put forward its candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) after the United States withdrew from participation in the Geneva-based body halfway through its three-year term.

The UN Human Rights Council, founded in 2006, has a permanent agenda item on Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed. The U.S. cited “unending hostility toward Israel” in quitting the council on Tuesday, drawing criticism that the Trump administration is turning a blind eye to human rights abuses.

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Russia’s mission to the UN accused the U.S. of attempting to turn the council into a “tool to promote only their interests,” and said it would continue to work with the 47-member body.

“It was in that spirit that Russia nominated its candidacy for the 2021-2023 HRC membership elections,” the mission said in a statement.

Russia lost its reelection to a seat on the council in 2016, after rights groups successfully lobbied against its candidacy because of Russian military support for the Syrian government.

Reuters contributed reporting to this article.

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