The Government of López Obrador votes blank, along with Brazil, El Salvador, or Saudi Arabia, to a measure agreed by a majority and promoted by the US.
Mexico is one of the 58 states that have decided to abstain from the vote that has led to the expulsion of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. The General Assembly of the organization took the decision on Thursday by a majority of more than two-thirds -93 votes in favor of a total of 176- in response to the “serious and systematic violations and abuses” committed during the invasion of Ukraine. The permanent representative of Mexico to the UN, Juan de la Fuente, has justified the decision by first recalling his country’s support for the organization’s latest resolutions but emphasizing that “exclude, suspend, is not the solution” and that “Mexico has the conviction that all channels of dialogue with the authorities of the Russian Federation must be maintained.”
The expulsion has been driven by the US and is a major setback for Russia. Last Monday the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, proposed mediation after learning of the atrocities allegedly committed by the Russian army in Bucha, a suburb of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. After more than a month under the control of the invading forces, the streets of the city were littered with corpses, many with signs of torture. The president of the United States, Joe Biden, described the events as “war crimes” while his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodímir Zelenski, after a visit to the area, as evidence of a “genocide”. Moscow maintains that everything is a setup, despite the evidence to the contrary, the accounts of witnesses and journalists on the ground and satellite images.
Mexico thus distances itself from both the US and the NATO countries that voted as a block in favor of expulsion. Among the abstentions are States such as Brazil, Egypt, El Salvador, India, and Saudi Arabia. The Mexican position also extends a position that for the moment has included, on the one hand, the condemnation of the Russian invasion and, on the other, has ruled out both economic sanctions on the Kremlin and military aid to Ukraine, a measure also adopted by both the US and by the European Union.
The war in Ukraine has two readings for the Morena government. In terms of foreign policy, the US, its main trading partner, has emphasized from the beginning of the conflict that it considers the Mexican government as “an important ally” also in its security agenda. The internal reading is affected by the climate of high political polarization that has contributed to amplifying the noise and exaggerations. A part of the opposition tries to present López Obrador as a friend of Putin, a misleading strategy as is the desire of some sectors of the left to blame Washington and Brussels for this war.
The position of the permanent representative this Thursday before the UN general assembly has stressed that “Mexico has been clear and forceful in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for being in violation of international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the constitutional principles of our foreign policy. De la Fuente also points out that Mexico supported the recent resolution of the Human Rights Council of the organization to form an independent investigation commission destined to “investigate all the alleged abuses and violations of human rights, and everything that could violate international humanitarian law, stemming from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.”
Mexico’s conclusion on the expulsion of Russia is that its permanence or not “in the Human Rights Council, does not constitute a factor that exempts it or that imposes obligations under international law.” And it asserts that “the central point must be to bring to justice those who are responsible, not to suspend a state from its membership in a subsidiary body of this Assembly before which all member states, without exception, must render accounts, under the same rules and according to the same criteria.