WHO Members Warn Russia Its Voting Rights Could Be Suspended

On Thursday the WHO assembly voted for a resolution condemning Russia for its attacks on the health care system in Ukraine and rejected its proposal which says that Kyiv’s representative at the United Nations in Geneva is deceptive and presents the twisted alternative reality of the conflict.

The resolution was backed by 88 to 12 with 53 abstentions of member states in favor of Ukraine, which raises the possibility of suspending Russia from the assembly if Russia continues its attacks on clinics and hospitals. The assembly is the World Health Organization decision-making body, which is the United Nations global health agency. A counter-proposal given by Russia and Syria on Thursday, suggesting that Kyiv is responsible for some civilian deaths was also rejected with 15 to 66 votes and 70 abstentions. Russia was accused by the Ukraine diplomates of copying the language, condemning the health emergency which is happening in and around Ukraine. The diplomats from Russia accused Ukraine of using a traditional apolitical forum for settling the scores while speaking at the assembly.

Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya has told the assembly that it is not acceptable to use the WHO to condemn one country. Kyiv and its allies debated that the assembly is the place for discussing the health care crises due to the conflict, pointing out the Russian strike reports on the medical facilities and also the risk of famine across the globe due to the alleged blocking of the Ukraine ports.

The British representative to United Nations in Geneva Simon Manley stated that War is a health issue, health for peace, peace for health. The WHO must not fear to address the health crisis, its cause, and in this case, the aggressor.

The voting at the annual World Health Assembly is the latest blow to Russia’s standing in the WHO since invading Ukraine on Feb, 24. UN General Assembly passed two resolutions in March condemning Russia for its aggression and suspended it from the United Nations Human Rights Council on April 7.

On May 10 European WHO members states separate vote at a regional meeting had forced the UN agency for taking a harder stance against Russia during the war, calling the WHO officials of considering to close an office in Moscow.

Ukraine's Health care sector has taken a huge toll due to the conflict. On Thursday a report released by the WHO stated that 256 attacks on personnel and health facilities had been recorded during the war, which resulted in 75 reported deaths and 59 reported injuries. Since the Russian invasion began 3,998 deaths of civilians had been recorded in total.

The successful vote for Ukraine at the World Health Assembly which is the top world health event of the year, might not carry out its immediate repercussions against Russia. Although, it highlighted the references in the WHO constitution which allow the suspension of voting and other rights and benefits.