Ukraine changes mind on UN rights council vote on Xinjiang

Western nations suffered a heavy defeat at the UN’s top rights body on Thursday when they failed to get enough votes to pass a first-ever attempted resolution targeting China.

October 07, 2022 08:12 pm | Updated 09:39 pm IST - Geneva

Ukraine indicated on Friday it had changed its mind on a historic vote a day earlier that saw the UN Human Rights Council refuse to debate violations in China's Xinjiang region.

Western nations suffered a heavy defeat at the UN’s top rights body on Thursday when they failed to get enough votes to pass a first-ever attempted resolution targeting China.

The draft text, presented by the United States and a number of other Western countries, had merely asked the council to debate a UN report, citing possible crimes against humanity against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region.

But in a moment of knife-edge drama, countries on the 47-member council in Geneva voted 19-17 against holding a debate on human rights in Xinjiang, with 11 nations abstaining.

Following an intense lobbying campaign by Beijing, many of the votes against and abstentions did not come as a huge surprise.

However, the decision by conflict-torn Ukraine, which relies heavily on Western backing as it battles Russia's invasion, to abstain in the vote caught some off guard.

And Ukraine itself appears to have had second thoughts.

In an unusual move, Ukrainian ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko took the floor on Friday asking that the "record of the proceedings reflect our position in favour of the adoption of the mentioned decision."

The president of the council, Federico Villegas of Argentina, said the council would "take note of your statement", but stressed that "in accordance with the rules and practices the result of the vote will remain as it was announced yesterday."

Even if the result had shifted to reflect the changed vote, the resolution on China would still have failed, by one vote.

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