Thais abstain in UNHRC vote on Russia

Thais abstain in UNHRC vote on Russia

Antonina Kaletnyk waits for the body of her son in front of a collapsed building in the town of Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv, on April 8, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
Antonina Kaletnyk waits for the body of her son in front of a collapsed building in the town of Borodianka, northwest of Kyiv, on April 8, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Thailand was among 58 countries that abstained from voting during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over its conduct in Ukraine.

The UN General Assembly voted 93-24 to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member council, surpassing the needed two-thirds majority. Russia's term ends in December 2023, prompting Moscow to announce it was quitting the body.

Russia, China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Iran, Vietnam and several African countries were among those who voted against the suspension. Those abstaining included Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and Pakistan.

The meeting marked the resumption of a special emergency session on the war in Ukraine and followed reports of violations committed by Russian forces. This past weekend, disturbing photos emerged from Bucha, near Kyiv, where hundreds of civilian bodies were found in the streets and in mass graves following Russia's withdrawal from the area.

Suriya Chindawongse, Ambassador to the UN, explained Thailand's decision, saying suspending a nation's membership is an issue that cannot be taken lightly. He said every step must be considered carefully with consultations made on the basis of principles and facts. Constructive opinions and possible consequences must also be measured.

"Thailand is deeply sorry about the loss of life and is gravely concerned about the escalating conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and believes urgent actions are needed to address the allegations about human rights violations," Mr Suriya said.

He said facts and verifiable evidence from credible sources are needed to make a fair assessment of a situation and Thailand therefore is joining calls for an independent, thorough, neutral and transparent probe into what is happening in Ukraine.

"Thailand urges all parties concerned to abide by international human rights laws and provide humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict, while [we] will continue providing aid to those affected by the conflict," he said.

He said the nation echoed its call for continued political dialogue to end the conflict and eventually stop the humanitarian crisis.

Prior to the vote, Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya urged countries to support the resolution.

This is not the first time a member state has had its UNHRC membership suspended. Libya was stripped of its seat in 2011.

Before the vote, Gennady Kuzmin, the deputy Russian ambassador, called for countries to "vote against the attempt by Western countries and their allies to destroy the existing human rights architecture".

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