Biden calls for war crimes trial, says Putin must be held accountable

The United States is working with Ukraine and other European countries to organize a vote at the United Nations to expel Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“The images of Bucha and the devastation across Ukraine now compel us to match words with action,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, told reporters on Monday. “We cannot allow a member state that overthrows all the principles we hold dear to continue to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

A successful resolution to remove Russia from the human rights body – a largely symbolic step – would require two-thirds of nations to vote in favor at the UN General Assembly.

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said any changes to the human rights panel would be up to UN member states. Asked about a possible withdrawal of Russia, the spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, warned last week that “there is some concern about the creation of a dangerous precedent”, without further details.

The Human Rights Council, whose members are elected to represent five regions, examines rights conditions around the world and responds to specific complaints. The body has no enforcement powers, but its deliberations and reports can shape national and international public opinion. Countries that regularly face human rights criticism are encouraged to campaign to win and hold seats to limit their exposure.

Moscow is largely shielded from international prosecution for war crimes due to its lack of participation in other international bodies and its veto in the UN Security Council.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield said she would also raise Russia’s actions “firmly and directly” on Tuesday at the UN Security Council, the first UN body that can impose binding resolutions.

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