Czech Republic elected to replace Russia on U.N. rights council

An overview of the special session on the situation in Ukraine of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations General Assembly elected the Czech Republic to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on Tuesday to replace Russia, which was suspended last month over its invasion of Ukraine and then immediately quit the 47-member body.

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. Its decisions carry political weight, however, and it can authorize investigations.

The Czech Republic was elected with 157 votes in favor, while 23 countries abstained. Its terms starts immediately.

The Human Rights Council is due to hold a special session on Ukraine on Thursday, an official said on Monday, after Kyiv called for a review of the situation there, including reports of mass casualties in Mariupol.

The United States led the rare push to suspend Russia after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation". Libya was suspended from the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2011 over violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alison Williams)

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