Singapore abstains from vote to suspend Russia from UN Human Rights Council

·Senior Editor
·2-min read
A display shows the results of voting on suspending Russia from United Nations Human Rights Council during an emergency special session of the U.N. General Assembly on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S. April 7, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A display shows the results of voting on suspending Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council at the UN HQ in New York on 7 April 2022. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Singapore on Thursday (7 April) abstained from the vote to suspend Russia from the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council.

Russia was suspended from the Council after the vote took place in the UN General Assembly, with 93 countries in favour, 24 against and 58 abstained.

The US had pushed for Russia’s suspension, with the draft text for the vote expressing "grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine".

A two-thirds majority of voting members in the 193-member General Assembly was required to suspend Russia from the 47-member Geneva-based Council.

Russian soldiers have been accused of carrying out mass killings, rape and torture in Ukraine. Among the accusations, Ukraine said Russian soldiers have killed hundreds of civilians in the town of Bucha, near its capital Kyiv.

Russia has warned countries that a vote in favour or abstention is an "unfriendly gesture" and will affect bilateral ties, according to a note seen by Reuters.

The United Nations General Assembly's vote to suspend Russia from UN Human Rights Council. (SOURCE: United Nations)
The United Nations General Assembly's vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. (SOURCE: United Nations)

Singapore’s abstention comes after it voted last month in favour of two separate UN resolutions to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On 2 March, during an emergency session in the UN, Singapore voted alongside 140 other countries for a resolution to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine after it launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour on 24 February. Five countries voted against the resolution while 35 abstained.

With no sign of a reversal of Russia’s invasion, the emergency session reconvened on 24 March to vote on a resolution reiterating the UN’s demand that Russia withdraw from Ukraine and deploring the attacks on Ukraine’s civilian population and infrastructure. Singapore voted in favour of the resolution alongside 139 other countries while five countries voted against it and 38 abstained.

Singapore has been listed by the Kremlin as among the countries and territories that have committed “unfriendly actions” against Russia, its companies, and citizens.

The city-state and other countries have announced wide-ranging sanctions against Russia. It has imposed export controls on items that can be used directly as weapons in Ukraine, as well as certain financial sanctions on Russia.

Several Singapore ministers have strongly condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

"We cannot accept one country attacking another without justification, arguing that his independence was the result of 'historical errors and crazy decisions'. Such a rationale would go against the internationally recognised legitimacy and territorial integrity of many countries, including Singapore," Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament on 28 February.

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