Saint Joseph. “It’s a shame,” Venezuelan Tamara Tarasyuk, interim director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch (HRW), lamented, responding to Mexico’s decision to abstain yesterday in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly vote that suspended Russia from the Human Rights Council of the Global Forum on Atrocities Committed in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.
OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro, for his part, criticized “neutrality as a partner”, although he did not specifically mention Mexico in a Twitter message yesterday.
Almagro explained that “we must be consistent with our commitments in this matter: in the face of crimes against humanity, neutrality is a partner,” stressing that from the OAS General Secretariat “we support the decision of the Assembly to suspend Russia’s membership of the Council.”
With 93 votes in favour, 24 against and 58 abstentions, the council agreed to exclude Russia from the council, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland, due to “gross and systematic violations and abuses” committed by Russian forces in Moscow’s military aggression in the past. February 24 against Ukraine.
Earl Anthony Wayne, a former US ambassador to Mexico, told this newspaper he was confident the US and its allies “hope Mexico will join in” and vote in favor of the resolution. “At least the abstention did not count against the two-thirds vote required to suspend Russia.”
But he added, “Given the horrific acts against civilians, the massive destruction of Ukraine, and the threat of a new Russian attack from the east, the United States and its allies encourage as many democracies as possible in the world to join together . . against these offensive moves.” In this sense, he lamented that “the Mexican government’s mixed references in relation to Ukraine reflect a well-known inclination to questions of foreign policy that has been evident in this administration. [e históricamente]. This will be taken into account by those in Washington who are already critical of Mexico for other reasons.”
According to United Nations statistics, the Latin American and Caribbean countries that abstained were 10: Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Barbados, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, while Cuba. Nicaragua and Bolivia are against it. Venezuela was absent.
China, Iran, North Korea, Vietnam, Syria and Russia were among the 24 countries that opposed the expulsion of the Russian delegation from one of the world’s largest human rights forums.
Ukraine welcomed the decision with the voice of Ambassador Sergei Kiselitsya, who emphasized that “Russia is not only committing human rights violations, but is shaking the foundations of international peace and security.”
Instead, Russia called his suspension “illegal and politically motivated.”
In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Taraciuk said that “Mexico’s abstention position, along with Brazil and El Salvador, is a shame because here we are facing a government about which, like Russia, there is evidence of possible war crimes.”
He revealed that with the withdrawal of Russian forces from various regions of Ukraine, at Human Rights Watch “we have documented cases of summary executions, unlawful violence against (Ukrainians), and repeated sexual abuse.”
“This is starting to be known, when Russian forces withdraw,” added the acting Western Hemisphere chair of Human Rights Watch, a global nongovernmental group in Washington for the defense of civil safeguards.
“In this context, it is a shame to say or suggest that Russia can have a place at the Human Rights Council table.”
Russia’s suspension “is a very strong and powerful message about the global condemnation of Russia’s brutality. The Russian government, which has committed horrific human rights violations in Ukraine and inside Russia as well as in (the war) in Syria, does not deserve to be part of the Council.”
Referring to the massacre of hundreds of civilians attributed to Russian forces that took place from February 27 to March 31 in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, he said, “The images of bodies dumped in Bucha shocked the world.”
The victims and their families deserve to have those behind these barbaric acts duly investigated. He warned that (the comment) sends a message of global condemnation that these matters are not tolerated in global democracies.”
Justifying the abstention, the Mexican ambassador to the United Nations, Juan Ramon de la Fuente, said that “whether or not Russia remains in the Human Rights Council is not a factor that excludes it or imposes obligations under international law.”
“The central point is to bring those responsible to justice, not to suspend the membership of a state in a subsidiary body of this assembly before which all member states are required to make accounts under the same rules and according to the same standards,” it presses.
De la Fuente stated that Mexico condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine for “violating international law” and attacks on the civilian population and infrastructure and “unequivocally” supported the request of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, for an impartial investigation into the potential seriousness of human rights violations to identify those responsible.
For Duncan Wood, Vice President of New Strategies and Initiatives at the Wilson Center, Mexico’s decision at the United Nations “is a very clear example of the Mexican government’s attempt to demonstrate its independence and independence from the United States. For President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, it always helps to be able to distract the public, especially the elites, from the problems facing his administration.”
And he considered that “there will be retaliation by the United States, most likely in the form of statements to the US Congress attacking Mexico’s position.” Today, he lamented, “there are more political tensions between Mexico and the United States than at any time in the past 20 years.”
On the other hand, former Ambassador Wayne stated that “the relations between Mexico and the United States are strong and important to both countries. The two governments have a flexible and regular dialogue on many issues, and agreed processes to manage important issues between the two countries. I am sure this will continue.”
Andrew Sely, president of the Migration Policy Institute, told this newspaper that “it is hard to understand why the Mexican government takes a position so different from that of most democracies in the world, especially the United States, Canada, European countries and Latin America.” What is missing, he added, is “more Clarity on the part of the Mexican government so that it does not create noise in its relations with other major partners, including the other two countries in North America.”
In his morning conference, President López Obrador had already announced that Mexico would abstain from voting in the General Assembly. “What is the purpose of the United Nations? How are we going to dismantle an instrument necessary to achieve peace agreements and avoid war?”
But Joel Hernandez Garcia, one of the seven commissioners of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, noted that under the rules of the Human Rights Council, its members can be suspended if they commit systematic violations of human rights. So far, this happened only in 2011 with Libya.
“It is a requirement of membership in the Council that states respect human rights. When we witness these serious and systematic violations, states, in this case Russia, do not have credentials to belong to this body,” the Mexican jurist insisted.
He described the assembly’s resolution as a punishment against Russia for the alleged abuses it committed in Ukraine, in particular for war crimes.
With information from Guadalupe Galvan