In a vote, 180 of the General Assembly’s 193 members deposited ballots, with 157 countries backing the Czech Republic and 23 abstaining.

Russia had been in its second year of a three-year term —  the Czech Republic will complete that term on the council, which cannot make legally binding decisions.
Russia had been in its second year of a three-year term — the Czech Republic will complete that term on the council, which cannot make legally binding decisions. (AP)

The UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly for the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the world organisation’s leading human rights body.

In Tuesday’s secret ballot vote, 180 of the General Assembly’s 193 members deposited ballots. The result was 157 countries in favour of the Czech Republic and 23 abstentions.

Russia's membership has been suspended over allegations of horrific rights violations by its soldiers in Ukraine.

The Czech Republic was the only candidate for the seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council. 

Seats on the Geneva-based council are divided among regional groups and a replacement for Russia had to come from an East European country.

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Action against Russia

The assembly approved a US-initiated resolution on April 7 to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council by a vote of 93-24 with 58 abstentions.

The vote was significantly lower than on two resolutions the assembly adopted in March demanding an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, withdrawal of all Russian troops and protection for civilians.

Both of those resolutions were approved by at least 140 nations.

After the General Assembly suspended Russia, its deputy ambassador Gennady Kuzmin told UN members that Russia had withdrawn from the Human Rights Council before the vote.

Council spokesperson Rolando Gomez said by withdrawing, Russia avoided being deprived of observer status at the rights body.

Since its February 24 campaign in Ukraine, Russia has lost its spot on multiple UN bodies.

They include the executive boards of UN Women and the UN children’s agency UNICEF, the Committee on Non-governmental Organisations and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

It was also suspended from the World Tourism Organisation.

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Source: AP