Russia, Iran sending top envoys to UN’s human rights council

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will help kick off the latest and longest-ever session of the UN’s top human rights body on Monday, with Iran’s foreign minister, a senior Russian envoy, and the top diplomats of France and Germany among scores of leaders set to take part. The more than five-week session of the Human Rights Council opens as the world grapples with rights concerns including Russia’s war in Ukraine, repression of dissent in Russia and Belarus, new violence between Palestinians and Israelis, and efforts to solidify a peace deal in Ethiopia that ended two years of conflict between the national government and rebels in the Tigray region. The council, made up of 47 members countries, takes up an extensive array of human rights issues — including discrimination, the freedom of religion, right to housing or the deleterious impact of economic sanctions targeting governments on regular people — as well as country “situations” like those in Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, Nicaragua and South Sudan. It usually meets three times a year. Proponents say the Geneva-based rights body has grown in importance as a diplomatic venue because the UN Security Council in New York has been increasingly divided in recent years due to a major rift between affiliations among its five permanent members: China and Russia on one side, Britain, France and the United States on the other. On Monday, among the speakers after Guterres and the presidents of Congo, Montenegro and Colombia, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will come up between Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and France’s Catherine Colonna. China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, is set to make a statement by video. Amirabdollahian’s visit comes in the wake of vociferous and continued protests that erupted in Iran after the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest by the country’s morality police.