UN should launch rapporteur mandate to monitor repression in Russia

UN should launch rapporteur mandate to monitor repression in Russia

UPGRADE DAY

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday for the first time established a mandate for a Special Rapporteur to monitor the crackdown on opponents in Russia, a double victory for Westerners after the Nobel of peace to a Russian NGO. 

This is the first time that Moscow has been targeted by a resolution concerning the human rights situation inside the country.

The text, which was proposed by a large part of the member countries of the European Union, was adopted with 17 votes in favor. 24 countries abstained and 6 voted against, including China.

The adoption of the resolution comes shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Russian NGO Memorial, banned in Russia, to the imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Beliatski and to the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties.

“It's a double victory”, reacted the French ambassador, Jérôme Bonnafont.

The Russian ambassador to the UN in Geneva Gennady Gatilov, former deputy foreign minister, preferred to point out that “less than half” of the 47 member states of the Council voted in favor of the text.

< p>Ahead of the vote, he accused “Western countries of using the Council for political purposes”.

UN should launch rapporteur mandate to monitor repression in Russia

UN should launch rapporteur mandate to monitor repression in Russia

Russia left the Council a few months ago when the UN General Assembly voted to expel it following the invasion of Ukraine, but it has observer status and can therefore express themselves.

The resolution, adopted on Russian President Vladimir Putin's 70th birthday, resolves to appoint a Special Rapporteur to monitor “the human rights situation” for a year.

The expert should be appointed in a few weeks, but it is uncertain whether he will be allowed by Moscow to visit Russia. 

However, it is not unusual for UN experts to be not authorized to go on site.

Responsibilities

The resolution instructs the Rapporteur to “collect, review and assess relevant information from all stakeholders, including Russian civil society, both inside and outside the country”.

“Recent draconian laws aimed at stifling independent media and 'undesirable' organisations, harsh penalties for anyone who questions the government, or the large number of people arrested in the context of demonstrations, are some recent examples of a policy of systematic repression,” Luxembourg Ambassador Marc Bichler said, introducing the resolution.

“It was important for the Council to take its responsibilities, for there not to be a 'double standard', for civil society in Russia to know that the Human Rights Council is observing the situation”, underlined the French Ambassador.

In May, the Council launched a high-level investigation into violations committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

But many voices, including NGOs, protested to demand that the body also take an interest in the deterioration of human rights violations in Russia.

The vote on Russia comes the day after another historic election to the Council and a setback for the Americans. 

The Council refused to discuss the abuses of which China is accused in its province of Xinjiang.

Such a debate would have taken place following the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, published at the end of August.

This denounced possible crimes against humanity against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Beijing rejects these accusations.