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Saudi envoy: Suspension of Russia from Human Rights Council is an ‘escalatory step’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia described a move by the UN General Assembly on Thursday to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council as an “escalatory step” that further aggravates an already tense situation.

The Kingdom stressed that human rights issues should not be subject to “selectivity, double standards or politicization.”

The Saudi deputy permanent representative to the UN, Mohammed Abdulaziz Alateek said the move was not only a form of politicization, it was unilateral in nature in that it gives certain states more rights than others.

The General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the 47-member Human Rights Council over “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights.”

In the vote on the motion, led by the US, 93 countries voted in favor, 24 against and 58, including Saudi Arabia, abstained.

Alateek said that the Kingdom decided to abstain because it believes that any aggravation of an already tense situation would adversely affect talks going on between the Russians and Ukrainians “with a view to reaching a peaceful settlement that spares the region and the world further adverse effects in political, economic or humanitarian terms.”

The suspension of Russia from the HRC constitutes a “serious precedent that threatens multilateral work and runs counter to the principles of international law” and adversely affects the work of international organizations, he added.

The ambassador condemned acts that violate international humanitarian law “in all forms and wherever they occur.” He lamented the deterioration of the situation in Ukraine and called for the protection of civilians and civilian sites.

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s permanent representative to the UN, reiterated her country’s “forceful condemnation of all violations of international humanitarian law” in Ukraine.

“Civilians are bearing the brunt of this conflict and this must end, they must be spared, and parties must comply with their obligations under international law,” she said.

In explaining the UAE’s decision to abstain from the vote, she said that “determining the facts on the ground is important for justice to be rendered to victims but also, in the longer term, to allow communities to heal, reconcile and build sustainable peace.”

As a member of the HRC, the UAE previously voted in favor of establishing an international independent commission of inquiry to investigate alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Ukraine.

Nusseibeh said the commission has just started its investigations and that “due process demands that investigative mechanisms be able to conclude their work. Today, we decided to abstain on this resolution because we need to ensure that any decision we take in this GA is based on due process.”

She added: “The UN is based on the premise of dialogue and constructive engagement, with each other and even with those who hold opposing views to us.

“The organizations that make up our international system were not established to be a club for the like-minded. We need to preserve spaces in the multilateral arena to talk to each other and not just at each other. And that idea is in the foundational DNA of this organization.”

Nusseibeh called for doubling down on diplomatic efforts to reach an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. She voiced support for the ongoing negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, and offered her country’s “full support to all mediation efforts,” adding: “Our collective strength lies in our inclusivity.”

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