Fiji votes against Russia, Helen Clark in disbelief 58 countries abstained including Vanuatu


Fiji has voted alongside 93 other countries to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The resolution to strip Russia of its seat passed with 93 votes in favour, 24 against and 58 abstentions.

Other Pacific island countries that voted to kick Russia out were Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

“@EUPasifika thanks the Pacific island countries which voted in favour of the @UN General Assembly resolution suspending Russia from the @UN-HRC,” posted Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, Sujiro Seam on his Twitter handle.

U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield introduced the proposal to suspend Russia following accusations that Russian troops tortured and killed Ukrainian civilians in Bucha.

Meanwhile, Helen Clark is in disbelief countries such as Senegal, South Africa and Vanuatu abstained from the vote to remove Russia from the UN’s Human Rights Council.

“Obviously Russia worked the traps really, really hard,” the former prime minister of New Zealand and administrator of the UN Development Programme said of the abstentions.

It comes as Russia was suspended from the UN’s leading human rights body over allegations of war crimes in Ukraine.

The vote was 93-24 with 58 abstentions, significantly lower than the vote on two resolutions the assembly adopted last month demanding an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine, withdrawal of all Russian troops and protection for civilians. Both of those resolutions were approved by at least 140 nations, including New Zealand.

Russia has been accused of war crimes following the retreat of Russian troops from Bucha, northwest of Kyiv.

Bodies with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture allegedly lay scattered in the city afterwards.

“I think where most people will be looking today is at the list of the no votes and the abstentions,” Clark said.

“And I must say, among the abstentions, there’s obviously the ones you expect – you expect North Korea with Russia. But to see South Africa abstain, when we know their particular journey against apartheid, one of the most vile human rights abuses the world has known.

“Vanuatu abstained. For heaven’s sake, what is it that Vanuatu is abstaining over? Senegal, a democracy. So obviously Russia worked the traps really, really hard,” an incredulous Clark told Breakfast.

“Nonetheless, enough people got it – a new level of depravity,” she said of Russia’s alleged atrocities.

“I think a very strong message has been sent to Russia about its behaviour.”

Clark even described the suspension as a deserved “major slap in the face”.

“I think what we saw from Bucha was a new level of depravity and the world reels with disgust at that.”

Asked by Breakfast presenter John Campbell if the UN had to take this action, Clark replied: “I think so. As we look at this crisis, we’re mindful that the league of nations collapsed over its inability to prevent World War II. We said never again. We said never again after the genocide of World War II. Never again after the genocide of Rwanda. Never again after the genocides in the former Yugoslavia when everything erupted there in the mid-1990s.

“So we keep saying never again that no one gets slapped.

“Look, here’s a permanent member which is torturing, killing innocent civilians and leaving their bodies in the street to rot for weeks on end. If the UN had not spoken on this, people would say ‘is there any purpose left’ and then are you then left with the collapse of an institution that was supposed to stop the unimaginable happening.

“It had to happen and I’m just sorry that quite a significant number of countries did not get that. And a number for whom there is not a good reason,” she said.