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Report: Russia offering arms to countries in exchange for votes to rejoin UN human rights council

Report: Russia offering arms to countries in exchange for votes to rejoin UN human rights council
September 26
11:36 2023

A document seen by the BBC has shown that Russia is seeking to rejoin the United Nations (UN) human rights council.

Russia was expelled from the council in April 2022 after it invaded Ukraine.

The UN adopted the resolution after hundreds of civilian bodies were found in the streets of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, and in mass graves.

However, Russia is now seeking to get re-elected to the council for a fresh three-year term.


The move to rejoin the body comes days after the UN voiced fresh concerns over arbitrary mass arrests and the “persistent use of torture and ill-treatment”.

Mariana Katzarova, UN special rapporteur for Russia, said arrests and harassment were recorded for “anyone speaking out against Russia’s war on Ukraine or daring to criticise the government’s actions”.

To rejoin the UN’s pre-eminent human rights body, a vote involving all 193 members of the UN general assembly in New York will have to take place.


In last year’s votes, 93 nations voted in favour, 24 were against, while 58 abstained from the process.

China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Vietnam, were among those who voted against.

Those who abstained included India, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

According to the BBC, Russia is now circulating a position paper to UN members asking for their support.

In the document, Russia promises to find “adequate solutions for human rights issues” and seeks to stop the council becoming an “instrument which serves political wills of one group of countries”– a likely reference to the West.


Experts say the move is part of Russia’s efforts to regain some international credibility after being accused of human rights violations in Ukraine and within its own borders.

Since rejoining the council is based on votes, analysts fear that the Kremlin could get back into the council.

Diplomats who were present at the UN General Assembly in New York said Russia was campaigning aggressively, offering small countries grain and arms in return for their votes, BBC added.

However, some foreign countries including the United Kingdom, have strongly opposed Russia’s bid to rejoin the human rights council, saying it will be a key test of the UN’s international standing.


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