Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has called Russia’s suspension from the Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly “an important and historic moment.”
As the final speaker in the UNGA afternoon session following the vote Thursday, Thomas-Greenfield said, “Countries from around the globe have voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council for its gross and systematic violations of human rights. We have collectively sent a strong message that the suffering of victims and survivors will not be ignored.”
Thomas-Greenfield added, “Despite Russia’s attempt to spread disinformation we all saw the gruesome images from Bucha, Dymerka, Irpin and other recently liberated Ukrainian cities. Lifeless bodies lying in the streets, some apparently summarily executed, their hands tied behind their backs. Mass graves. Burnt bodies. Executions. We’ve seen credible reports of landmines and booby traps left behind by Putin’s forces to injure even more civilians after Russia failed in its objectives and withdrew."
"I shudder to think what we will find in other towns across Ukraine, as President Zelensky ominously warned us in the Security Council, in the weeks ahead," she added.
Thomas-Greenfield cited a photo taken by an AP photojournalist in Kyiv, which she said struck her in particular. “It’s of a six-year-old boy, standing in a garden next to his mother’s grave. It struck me because, one day, Ukraine’s infrastructure will be rebuilt and the rubble will be cleared. But there will be no way to rebuild the lives that Russia has destroyed. We cannot bring back those who have perished — Ukrainian mothers, fathers, sons, daughters,” she said.
The US Ambassador said she visited with women and children who shared heartbreaking stories of Russia’s violence, when she was in Moldova and Romania earlier this week.
“They spoke about losing relatives and loved ones, fleeing the only home they had ever known. Despite everything that they had been through, they were determined to carry on and to return home to a peaceful Ukraine. We must continue to show similar determination to stop their suffering, to hold Russia accountable. To end this war. After all, this is not only about accountability for Russia, its about standing with the people of Ukraine. And it’s about the credibility of the UN," she said.
Thomas-Greenfield said, “Right now, the world is looking to us. They are asking if the United Nations is prepared to meet this moment. They are wondering if we are a platform for propaganda and a safe haven for human rights abusers — or if we are prepared to live up to our highest ideals, enshrined in the UN Charter. Today, the international community took one collective step in the right direction. We ensured a persistent and egregious human rights violator will not be allowed to occupy a position of leadership on human rights at the UN.”
“Let us continue to hold Russia accountable for this unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war and to do everything in our power to stand with the people of Ukraine,” she said.