Russia failed to win re-election to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday, a action seen as a rebuke for the country's military support of the Syrian government.
In a secret ballot, the 193-member General Assembly elected 14 members to the 47-nation council, which is the main U.N. body charged with promoting and protecting human rights.
Hungary, which received 144 votes, and Croatia, with 114, beat out Russia, which received 112 votes. The three countries were competing for two regional seats on the council.
Russia has been there years
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin played down Moscow's loss.
"It was a very close vote," Churkin told reporters, saying Moscow had faced stiff competition. "Croatia, Hungary - they are fortunate because of their size they are not as exposed to the winds of international diplomacy; Russia is quite exposed.
"We have been there a number of years. I'm sure next time we're going to get in," he added. Russia's current term on the council ends December 31.
More than 80 human rights organizations had lobbied U.N. members to vote Russia off the council for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's nearly six-year civil war.
"In rejecting Russia's bid for re-election to the Human Rights Council, U.N. member states have sent a strong message to the Kremlin about its support for a regime that has perpetrated so much atrocity in Syria,'' Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press. "Next year, U.N. member states should make sure that all regional groups have real competition, so no one is guaranteed victory."
Saudi Arabia still in
The groups also lobbied against council member Saudi Arabia, which has been criticized for its military campaign in Yemen. However, Saudi Arabia remains on the council.
In addition to Hungary and Croatia, the United States, Egypt, Rwanda, Tunisia, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia, China, South Africa, Britain, Brazil and Cuba were elected to the Human Rights Council.
Source: Voice of America.