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Saturday, 28 January 2023
Gulf States Abstain as UN Suspends Russia from Rights Council Over Ukraine Abuse

Gulf States Abstain as UN Suspends Russia from Rights Council Over Ukraine Abuse

2022-10-31

 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Bahrain have all so far abstained from voting at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. The five Gulf states have been at odds with Russia over the ongoing international conflict in Ukraine. But in their bid to isolate Russia and protect their respective national interests, they have been siding with a regime they previously opposed.

The five Gulf states’ decision to abstain from voting at the UNHRC came as a result of Russia’s decision to withdraw from the council. The five states had previously abstained from voting at the council in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 due to their opposition to Russia. Russia’s withdrawal from the council was in protest over what it called the council’s “unfair” treatment of the country. It cited, among other issues, its failure to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The complete list of the participating states can be seen here. The U.N. human rights council (UNHRC) is an intergovernmental organization that was established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights. The council’s main focus is to promote and protect human rights around the world. In the current standoff between Russia and the west, many of the gulf states have chosen to side with the regime they previously opposed.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain all so far abstained from voting at the UNHRC in Geneva. The five Gulf states have been at odds with Russia over the ongoing international conflict in Ukraine. But in their bid to isolate Russia and protect their respective national interests, they have been siding with a regime they previously opposed.

UAE

The United Arab Emirates, which is also known as the UAE, has been highly critical of Russia since the start of the Ukraine conflict. In a report released in November 2015, the UAE’s mission to the UNHRC called on the international community to impose “an unprecedented sanctions and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation.” The UAE has also called on Russia to “immediately and unconditionally” withdraw its troops and heavy military hardware from Ukraine.

Kuwait

Also known as the Kuwaiti state, Kuwait has been one of the most vocal members of the Muslim world in its criticism of Russia. In a statement released in February 2016, the Kuwaiti authorities took the 47th anniversary of the Russian Revolution as a “historic opportunity to express the Kuwaiti government’s principled position against the Russian Federation.” The statement added that the commemoration of the event was “an opportunity to send a strong message of condemnation and threat to the Russian Federation and its leaders.”

Bahrain

Bahrain has also been highly critical of Russia, and in particular its anti-terrorism efforts. Bahrain also called on Russia to “immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops and heavy military equipment from Ukraine.” The country has also called for the inclusion of articles from the Human Rights Convention in the country’s constitution that “condemn the use of force and violence, including the use of force and violence by the state and its agents.”

Somalia

Somalia, which is also known as the “Sharing Window,” has been without a functioning government for the past 18 months. The country has been in a state of civil war since 1991. The warring parties, which include the Somalia army and Islamist militant group Al Shabaab, signed a ceasefire agreement in March 2017. The agreement called for a withdrawal of foreign forces and the immediate demobilization of Al Shabaab. However, no action has been taken on either of the two fronts. The step forward has been followed by a significant retreat by the government. The state has been trying to negotiate a withdrawal from the capital, Mogadishu, but has been rebuffed by the warring parties.

Syria

 
 

In October 2011, Syrians voted in a national referendum to start the process of Assad’s ousting. Initially, the vote was largely peaceful, but in February 2012, a government-backed militia began a so-called “regime change” operation it has dubbed “Operation Fair Play.” The operation resulted in a wave of atrocities and the killing of tens of thousands of people, including many of the revolutionaries and their families.

South Sudan

In July 2017, South Sudan’s civil war broke out after a disputed presidential election. The international community later recognized South Sudan as an independent state following a controversial vote in December 2017. The vote was challenged by both parties, who accused the other of fraud. The UNHRC later accepted the challenge, alleging “serious and credible” fraud. However, the UNSC later voted to exclude the South Sudan government from the body, which had “no legal basis” to do so.

Yemen

Also known as “The Cradle of Humankind,” Yemen is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. In the current war, the Houthi-Saleh fighters have been trying to take control of the capital, Sana’a. The Saleh faction has been fighting back, however, and has been attacking the outskirts of the city. The fighting has also forced millions of people to flee their homes. The UNHRC has repeatedly called on the warring parties to stop their military operations. The UNSC has so far failed to do so.

Libya

In February 2017, the UN Security Council called for sanctions on four individuals and three companies for their roles in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. However, the sanctions were later annulled by the UNHRC. The sanctions mainly targeted the heads of state and government of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. The UNHRC later accused the four countries of violating the arms embargo by selling arms to the Libyan militias that caused the 2011 civil war.

Egypt

In December 2017, the UNHRC heard testimony from 10 Egyptian arms dealers who sold weapons to various armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula. The companies in question have so far refused to comment on the allegations. The UNHRC also accused the country of violating the arms embargo by selling arms to the Libyan militias.

Conclusion

While the five states have the right to abstain from voting at the UNHRC, their decision to do so sends a message of isolation and will not help ease the human rights situation in their respective countries.

The five Gulf states’ decision to abstain from voting at the UNHRC came as a result of Russia’s decision to withdraw from the council. The five states had previously abstained from voting at the council in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 due to their opposition to Russia. Russia’s withdrawal from the council was in protest over what it called the council’s “unfair” treatment of the country. It cited, among other issues, its failure to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The complete list of the participating states can be seen here. The U.N. human rights council (UNHRC) is an intergovernmental organization that was established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights. The council’s main focus is to promote and protect human rights around the world. In the current standoff between Russia and the west, many of the gulf states have chosen to side with the regime they previously opposed.

Bottom line: The United Nations Human Rights Council isn’t the ideal body to ensure accountability for human rights abuses across the globe. While the five Gulf states have the right to abstain from voting, this decision only weakens their position as a liberal bastion within Iran’s backyard.

 

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