Czechia will replace Russia on the UN Human Rights Council

Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the Czech Republic can now push to support human rights on the international stage.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 11.05.2022 08:51:00 (updated on 11.05.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

New York, May 10 (ČTK) – The UN General Assembly elected the Czech Republic to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as the replacement for Russia, which had been suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine and later left the 47-member Council.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala wrote on Twitter that the post presents the Czech Republic with an opportunity to be heard internationally." I consider it important for our country to stand up for human rights, and I welcome the opportunity to do so on the international stage," he added.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský thanked the UN member states for showing confidence in the Czech Republic and said he considers it symbolic that the Czech Republic replaced Russia, which has "committed abhorrent crimes" in a neighboring state. 

It is a great opportunity for the Czech Republic to continue its long-lasting policy of human rights protection and promotion, which is the priority of the current Czech government and diplomacy, Lipavský said.

The Czech Republic will take up the post immediately. "As soon as Thursday, we will join the session to debate the violation of human rights in consequence of the Russian aggression against Ukraine," Lipavský said.

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He added that he expects the UNHRC to pass a resolution increasing the powers related to the investigation of crimes in Ukraine. Another issue the Czech Republic would like to promote in the UNHRC is support for free media.

Russia was halfway through its three-year term when it left the UNHRC. The Czech Republic will complete the term, and hold the post until Dec. 21, 2023.

In the General Assembly's vote, 157 members supported the Czech Republic's election and 23 abstained from the vote.

Lipavský said the high level of support was made possible by the efforts of Czech ambassadors abroad; support from the country's partners in the EU, the U.S., and other allies; and also the fact that he personally had lobbied for the election at meetings with his partners from Europe and overseas.

Congratulations also came from abroad. "Congratulations to the Czech Republic on its election today to fill the vacant Eastern Europe seat on the UNHRC. The United States looks forward to working closely with our Czech colleagues as we continue the important work of tackling human rights issues around the world," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter.

The goal of the UNHRC, which is based in Geneva, is to promote and protect human rights all over the world. At its special meeting on Thursday, it will once again deal with the suspected cases of human rights violations on the part of the Russian invaders in Ukraine. The debate was initiated by Kyiv, which asked for the UNHRC to assess the situation in Ukraine, including the reports on mass victims in Mariupol.

The UNHRC cannot make any binding decisions but can approve the establishment of commissions of investigation, and its decisions carry a significant political message.

In early March, the UNHRC established a commission to inquire into possible Russian crimes.

Russia's expulsion from the UNHRC was sought by the US.. in the wake of the Feb. 24 start of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. On April 7, the General Assembly approved a suspension of Russia's UNHRC membership over the reported murders of civilians by Russian soldiers in Ukraine. In reaction, Russia gave up its mandate.

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