This past Monday, numerous human rights and aid organizations called upon the United Nations to deprive Russia of its seat on the UN's Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
This past Monday, numerous human rights and aid organizations called upon the United Nations to deprive Russia of its seat on the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC). A total of 80 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) signed the appeal, including CARE International, Refugees International, and Human Rights Watch. The NGOs’ appeal is based on Russian support for the Syrian government offensive in Aleppo, which seeks to rid what was once Syria’s largest city from US-backed rebel groups as well as the Islamic State.
The NGOs asked UN member nations to “question seriously whether Russia’s role in Syria which includes supporting and undertaking military actions which have routinely targeted civilians and civilian objects render it fit to serve on the UN’s premier inter-governmental human rights institution.” Some have pointed to a conflict of interest as a majority of these NGOs are funded by Saudi Arabia, the United States, France, the UK, and Qatar – countries which vehemently oppose Russia’s support of the Syrian government, which they hope to overthrow. The appeal comes only days before elections of member nations to the UN’s human rights body, which is scheduled for this Friday. Russia is a current member of the UNHRC, but its membership is set to expire this year.
The appeal also follows a resolution introduced by Britain and its Western and Arab allies, which demands a review into alleged human rights violations taking place in Aleppo. Ironically, it also comes as the US and its allies are waging a vicious attack on ISIS-held Mosul, where, like Russia, they are supporting pro-government forces with air power. Civilian causalities have been significant since the fighting began last week. In one case, US forces bombed an Iraqi funeral, killing between 15 to 20 civilians. Equally concerning was Saudi Arabia’s appointment to a leadership position in the UNHRC last year, though a handful of these same 80 NGOs condemned their membership. Saudi Arabia is well-known for its appalling human rights record. They turn executions into a public spectacle and torture is common in their penal system. In fact, just as Saudi Arabia assumed its position in UNHRC, the Saudis condemned a 17-year-old protestor to public beheading and crucifixion. Worse still, Saudi Arabia – with US support – has been waging a war in Yemen that has killed upwards of 10,000 since last March, most of them civilians. Where were the majority of these 80 NGOs, now protesting Russia’s appointment, when Saudi Arabia was elected to the UNHCR?
Ultimately, the move by these 80 NGOs show they are anything but impartial. The obvious schizophrenia in saying some civilian causalities are bad while others are not should concern us all. This appeal to the UNHCR is just another attempt by the West and their Arab allies to undermine Russia’s role internationally amid rising tensions over the Syrian situation. It appears that the US and its allies will stop at nothing to fulfill its long-standing goal of regime change in Syria, even if it means all but destroying US-Russia relations.
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