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GENEVA: Ukraine aims Monday to secure an urgent debate at the UN Human Rights Council on Russia's deadly invasion and is expected to call for an investigation into the abuses committed in the war.

The top UN rights body will begin its main annual session by considering a request from Kyiv to hold an urgent debate on "the rights situation in Ukraine stemming from Russian aggression."

Russia, which is a member of the 47-member Geneva-based council, will likely request that the issue be put to a vote, but is not expected to have enough support to block the debate.

Russia has become an international pariah as its forces do battle on the streets of Ukraine's cities, facing a barrage of sanctions and banned from Western airspace and key financial networks.

The UN General Assembly is due to host a rare special session in New York Monday on the conflict.

If the Human Rights Council debate is accepted, Ukraine is expected to request an investigation into Russia's rights abuses in the conflict, which has already claimed dozens of civilians lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.

The debate could only take place Thursday at the earliest, after three days of speeches by officials from over 140 countries, including Russia.

Lavrov in Geneva

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who along with President Vladimir Putin has been slapped with EU sanctions over the invasion, is expected to travel to Switzerland to address the council on Tuesday morning.

That same day, his US, British and European Union counterparts are due to address the body via video message, with Ukraine's top diplomat scheduled to do the same the next day, on Wednesday.

Concerns over the invasion are also expected to feature heavily in the opening video address by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was forced to cancel his trip to Geneva at the last minute over the crisis.

Suspend Russia?

Ukraine was on the agenda of the five-week session long before Russia's invasion began, with the council scheduled to receive a report into the long-running conflict in the east of the country on March 29.

But since Moscow began its full-scale invasion last Thursday, it has become clear that the war will overshadow much of the council's work.

All the main actors in the conflict are currently members of the already heavily polarised council, including Russia and Ukraine, and with the United States having just rejoined last month, after former president Donald Trump withdrew the country in 2018.

Non-governmental organisations in Geneva, including the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), have called on the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia's membership in the rights council over the invasion.

"It would be inconceivable that a state that has invaded a sovereign neighbour and denies its very right to exist should continue to serve in the world's primary human rights body," OMCT said in a statement.

Rhetoric around the raging Ukraine conflict is also expected to spill over at the Conference on Disarmament, which will also host a high-level session at the UN in Geneva this week.

Lavrov is among those expected to address that body in person, on Tuesday, shortly after his speech to the rights council.

He will certainly face questions at the UN-linked forum for thrashing out arms control and disarmament agreements over Putin's stunning announcement Sunday that he had placed Russia's nuclear forces on alert.


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