Senators urge UN to kick Russia off human rights council

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Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim Risch (R-Iowa)

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim Risch (R-Iowa)

A bipartisan group of senators from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged the United Nations to kick Russia out of the organization’s Human Rights Council in a letter to the Biden administration.

The letter, which includes committee chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) as signatories, asked U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield to introduce a resolution to the U.N. General Assembly that would push for Russia to be removed from the council.

“If the United States is a member of the Council, then it should use its seat to counter authoritarian agendas as part of a foreign policy centered on democracy and human rights,” the senators wrote, in a letter dated Monday.

“It is our belief that Russia should not have a seat on what is supposed to be the premiere international human rights body. Russia should not have an opportunity to continue to block, stifle, and otherwise distract from important conversations on the situation of human rights in Ukraine,” they added. “Swift action must be taken to show the world the United States and our allies will not stand for indiscriminate and unprovoked attacks on civilians and democracies.”

The other signatories of the letter include Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

A U.S. Mission to the U.N. spokesperson referred Reuters to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s previous comments.

“As Secretary Blinken said, ‘One can reasonably ask whether a UN Member State that tries to take over another UN Member State – while committing horrific human rights abuses and causing massive humanitarian suffering – should be allowed to remain on this council,'” the spokesperson told the news outlet when asked about the matter.

The development comes after the U.S. determined earlier this month that Russia has committed war crimes amid its invasion in Ukraine, with President Biden calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “pure thug” and “murderous dictator.”

In remarks during his visit to Warsaw, Poland, last weekend, Biden said, referring to Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

Claiming he was not “walking anything back,” Biden sought to clarify the comment on Monday, saying, “I want to make it clear: I wasn’t then, nor am I now articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I feel, and I make no apologies for it.”

Russia has already been expelled from Europe’s leading human rights council in response to its ongoing assault on Ukraine.

The Hill has reached out to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. for comment.

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