Cambodia is one of 58 countries which abstained from an April 7 vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, while 93 countries voted in favour, and 24 against, the suspension of Russia from the council.

Of the ASEAN nations, Cambodia was joined by Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Laos and Vietnam voted against Russia’s suspension. Only the Philippines and the Myanmar government-in-exile ‘The National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar’ voted in favour of the suspension.

The UN said that the vote came after disturbing images emerged from the city of Bucha – which is in the region, or oblast, of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv – in the past weekend. It said hundreds of civilian bodies were found in the streets and in mass graves following Russia’s withdrawal from the area.

Cambodian ambassador to the UN Ke Sovann, speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, explained to the UN council on April 7 that suspension of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council will not help resolve the conflict, but will trigger and intensify the situation.

“After a fragile time for world peace, security and stability, the engagement of all member states of all relevant UN bodies – including the Human Rights Council – is very important.

“Resolution of the conflict in Ukraine must be based on the UN Charter and International Law. Creating a conducive environment for diplomatic engagement and negotiation by the concerned parties is the right path to focus on to end the tremendous human suffering and achieving a sustainable, peaceful solution in Ukraine,” he said.

He said at this moment all countries should work in solidarity rather than creating mistrust and division among the UN membership.

“With that explanation, Cambodia abstains from voting on this resolution,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier that Cambodia is against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that Cambodia will be always against the use of force, or the threat of force, from large countries to small ones.

The UN Human Rights Council consists of 47 members and is based in Geneva. Russia joined the body in January 2021, the UN said.