The United Nations General Assembly Tuesday decided by 157 votes to none to appoint the Czech Republic onto the UN Human Rights Council to fill the seat vacated by Russia's suspension on April 7 for alleged war crimes committed during the invasion of Ukraine.
The Czech Republic's candidacy was the only one from Eastern Europe and it was endorsed by 157 votes in favor, none against, and 23 abstentions in a vote in which more than two dozen countries opted out.
Last April, UN countries agreed to suspend Russia's participation in the Human Rights Council in an almost unprecedented decision prompted by the United States and its allies in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
The UN General Assembly approved the initiative with 93 votes in favor, 24 against, and 58 abstentions, comfortably exceeding the required two-thirds majority, given that only ayes and nays were taken into account.
Russia thus became the second country to be suspended from the Human Rights Council since it was created in 2006 following the exclusion of Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya in response to the crackdown on protests in 2011.
The Human Rights Council is the highest United Nations body in this field and is composed of 47 countries, elected for three-year terms. Its composition, which is decided in elections held annually, was regularly criticized for including States with very dubious human rights records.
The decision to expel Russia came after hundreds of civilian bodies were reportedly found in parts of Ukraine such as Bucha, near Kyiv, after the withdrawal of Russian troops. There also seems to be mounting evidence that Russia has targeted civilian infrastructure as well as besieged the southern port of Mariupol, inflicting life-threatening conditions on the civilian population.