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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
January 23, 2017

Publication: Polygraph
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Claims To Be Human Rights Champion at the UN, Despite Security Council Vetoes on Syria

Headline:  Russia Claims To Be Human Rights Champion at the UN, Despite Security Council Vetoes on Syria and Losing Election at Human Rights Commission

Name: Amb. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations

Statement on left: “Russia actively promotes at the UN a positive human rights agenda. In the past year, our priorities were defense of the rights of children, the disabled, national, religious and language minorities and expansion of the rights and opportunities of women, as well as support of the family and recognition of its role in society.”

Source: Izvestia http://izvestia.ru/news/658630


Conclusion (Background color =red) FALSE

Date: January 23, 2017

Condensed Version: Russia’s UN envoy Amb. Vitaly Churkin claims that Russia is a champion of human rights at the UN. But Russia’s poor voting record on both country-specific and issue resolutions exposes this claim, with its vetoes of every resolution to condemn the bombing of civilians in Syria, or opposition to such measures as protecting peaceful demonstrators’ rights.

Polygraph.info fact-check:

Russia's votes on various human-rights related issues belie its claims to promote human rights; as can be seen from its voting record at the UN Security Council and the UN Commission on Human Rights.

In particular, various resolutions that Western countries attempted to pass at the Security Council condemning air strikes on civilians in Syria were blocked or vetoed by Russia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vetoed_United_Nations_Security_Council_resolutions_on_Syria

Russia denied striking a UN aid convoy in September 2016 in which at least 20 relief workers and civilians were killed, although Western governments brought forward significant allegations and there were major holes in the Kremlin's narrative.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54969#.WIWUBUTQeUk

http://www.interpretermag.com/syria-september-20-2016/#15170

A UN commission of inquiry was established to investigate the incident but was unable to confirm the allegations, in part because it was denied access to the site of the bombing, a fact the Russian state media failed to mention. Yet the inquiry pointed out that the US could not have committed the atrocity, leaving the only other possibilities to be Syria and Russia.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/world/middleeast/syria-aid-convoy.html

https://www.rt.com/news/371221-un-convoy-airstrike-probe/

It was for this disregard of civilian lives as well as other bombing incidents in Syria that more than 100 NGOs petitioned the members of the UN Commission for Human Rights (CHR) not to re-elect Russia to that body. In October 2016, Russia lost the election to Hungary and Croatia.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/russia-denied-membership-of-un-human-rights-council

Russia’s claim that it is “expanding the rights of women” is misleading, because in fact it is referencing support for a controversial resolution on the “Protection of the Family” proposed by Egypt whose sponsors included Russia, China, Belarus, and more than a dozen Muslim and African countries, and against which the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and other Western European countries voted. Opponents of the resolution said traditional definitions of the family could undermine already-existing rights covenants and resolutions defending women’s and LGBT rights. Russia claimed its opponents were “politicized” and were trying to “impose alien concepts and values on member-states”.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/un-human-rights-council-adopts-resolution-on-protection-of-t?utm_term=.mf5J1R5pm#.pl6qyz63K

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2348393

Russia's UN voting record at first glance might seem passable, if it were not for the controversial nature of some of these resolutions. For example, Russia voted for the long-standing Cuba-sponsored resolution on mercenaries, which is aimed at Western soldiers of fortune, although there are multiple reports of Russia's own use of mercenaries.

http://www.interpretermag.com/russia-update-august-26-2016/#14971

Like its Soviet predecessor, Russia voted for the capacious "right to development" resolution but abstained on another economic rights resolution to safe drinking water. It also abstained on transitional justice, important to countries turning to democracy after periods of authoritarianism. Russia voted against a resolution sponsored by Mexico on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; perhaps that because annually, Russia summarily executes hundreds of suspected Islamists, mainly in the North Caucasus. A basic resolution at CHR on Syria also got a "no" from Russia, as did those on Belarus, Ukraine, Burundi and South Sudan and still others on civil society, human rights defenders and the right to peaceful protest -- all areas subject to brutal crackdowns in Russia in recent years. With its anti-LGBT cultural and legislative positions at home, Russia voted against a resolution to protect LGBT against violence.

http://yourhrc.org/country-detail/?country=russian-federation

http://www.universal-rights.org/country-voting-history-portal/country/?country=russian-federation

https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article60875

To be sure, Russia voted in favor of a resolution against arbitrary detention. Russia also abstained on the issue of the death penalty, although it has abolished it at home since joining the Council of Europe.

Churkin specifically referenced Russia's vote on the family resolution in 2014, supported by some Arab and African countries. The US, UK, Ireland and other Western countries voted against the resolution because it specified only the traditional role of women as wife and mother and defined "families" only as those established by a man and a woman, without regard to LGBT rights.

Russia has also not cooperated with the UN rapporteur system as other countries even with worse records have done, and has not issued an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions since 2000, nor to the Special Rapporteur on Torture and others in years.

At home, Russia’s recent legislative initiatives have also undermined its claims abroad to be promoting human rights. This month, the Russian parliament has passed in the first reading a law that would decriminalize some forms of domestic violence. In December 2016, President Vladimir Putin signed another law authorizing force, including firearms to be used on prisoners.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38595993

http://www.forbes.ru/news/336593-putin-podpisal-zakon-
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