After Russian armies invaded Ukraine in April of last year, it was removed from the UN’s premier human rights organisation.
However, Russian officials are already working to secure a new, three-year term for their nation on the council.
The position document that Russia is distributing to UN members to solicit their support has been obtained by the BBC. The vote will happen the next month.
Russia pledges to find “adequate solutions for human rights issues” and aims to prevent the council from turning into “an instrument which serves political wills of one group of countries,” presumably referring to the West.
Diplomats claimed that after being accused of violating human rights in Ukraine, Russia was attempting to reclaim some international respectability.
In a report from its Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, the human rights council was given the most recent proof of those violations on Monday. The commission’s chair, Erik Mose, stated that there was still evidence of war crimes, including as torture, rape, and assaults on civilians.
In a different report published two weeks earlier, Mariana Katzarova, the UN’s special rapporteur for Russia, stated that the state of human rights in that country had “significantly deteriorated” and that opponents of the invasion had been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, and other cruel treatment.
The 47 members of the UN human rights council are individually chosen for a three-year term and have their headquarters in Geneva.
Russia will fight with Albania and Bulgaria for the two seats on the council designated for central and eastern European nations in the next elections, which are scheduled for October 10th.
All 193 members of the UN general assembly in New York will participate in the voting. According to diplomats there, Russia was aggressively wooing minor nations with promises of grain and weapons in exchange for their support.
As a result, they stated that there was a strong possibility that Russia may rejoin the council.
The Russian government aims to “promote principles of cooperation and strengthening of constructive mutually respectful dialogue in the council in order to find adequate solutions for human rights issues,” according to a position document distributed at the UN.
The main selling point of this argument is that Russia will utilise its membership “to prevent the increasing trend of turning the HRC into an instrument which serves the political will of one group of countries.” It stated that it does not want such organisation “punishing non-loyal governments for their independent and external policy”.
In April 2022, the UN general assembly voted 93 times in support of suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council, 24 times against, and 58 times abstained. Russia claims in its position paper that “the United States and its allies” are to blame for its expulsion from the club.
Russia is “unqualified” to be a member of the HRC, according to a study released this month by three advocacy organisations: UN Watch, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.
“Re-electing Russia to the council now, while its war on Ukraine is still ongoing, would be counterproductive for human rights and would send a message that the UN is not serious about holding Russia accountable for its crimes in Ukraine,” the report said.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Widespread evidence of Russia’s human rights abuses and violations in Ukraine and against its own citizens, including those highlighted by the UN’s special rapporteur on Russia just last week, demonstrates Russia’s complete contempt for the work of the council.”
The UK declared that it “strongly opposes” Russia’s application to reapply to the Human Rights Council.
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, said that Russia had perpetrated atrocities in Ukraine, that its leader had been charged with war crimes by the ICC, and that it had completely disregarded the UN Charter.
“The idea that Russia could return to the Human Rights Council is an affront to the very concept of human rights and a dangerous backwards step that would damage its credibility,” he said. “The government should work intensively with countries who have abstained in the past to make the case that the essential values of the UN must be upheld.”