U.N. Human Rights Group Launched in Wake of Russia's Ukraine Invasion

The United Nations voted on Friday to launch a new dedicated human rights panel of experts to oversee the conflict in Ukraine.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted 32-2 to set up a panel of experts to oversee the Ukrainian conflict, with only Russia and East African country Eritrea opposing the motion.

Thirteen nations – including China – abstained from the vote that was supported by several Western nations, and was initially urgently requested by Ukraine.

Many of the diplomats in attendance wore blue and yellow items which represent the colours on the Ukraine flag, to show solidarity with the war-torn nation, AP reports.

Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Human Rights Council expressed gratitude to the delegates after the vote in favour of Ukraine saying, “I thank all those who voted for the right course”.

Russian ambassador Gennady Gatilov gives a speech during an urgent debate on the Ukraine conflict at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 3, 2022. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s representative to the United Nations Human Rights Office at Geneva presented unsubstantiated allegations to the council in the discussion prior to the vote claiming that the Ukrainian government had tried to “virtually exterminate the Russian-speaking population of its country”.

Those opposing the Russian invasion argued that “Russia’s actions were a basic violation of the principles of international law and a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter”.

The United Nations also suggested that the death toll of civilian fatalities was in the “hundreds”, compared to previous estimations that thousands have civilians have perished due to the conflict. Although, there are still been no verified official numbers that have been published.

The UNHRC is made up of 47 United Nations member states who are elected by the U.N. General Assembly.

The Council has previously provoked controversy over who is elected as a member, with its current membership including nations with poor human rights records, such as Qatar, China, Venezuela, Russia and Somalia.

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