Around 80 human rights and aid organisations urged the United Nations member states on Monday in an appeal to drop Russia from the Human Rights Council over its military campaign in war-torn Syria.
The appeal was launched ahead of elections to fill 14 seats at the 47-nation council. Russia, Hungary and Croatia will be running for two seats representing the Eastern European group at the council.
The signatories - which include Human Rights Watch, CARE International and Refugees International - called on UN members to question whether Russia's role in Syria renders it fit to serve on the body’s human rights institution.
“Russia’s actions in Syria stand in clear contrast to its rhetorical commitment to human rights,” the signatories said.
Russia's intervention in Syria has helped the regime gain the upper hand against opposition forces on many frontlines in the war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people in more than five years of fighting.
The international community has often criticised the two for deliberately and systematically attacking civilians, using internationally banned cluster munitions and routinely targeting medical facilities.
Russia has a permanent member status in the UN Security Council (UNSC) which enables it to veto any resolution regardless of the level of international support for the draft.
So far, it has vetoed five UNSC resolution drafts aimed at ending the atrocities in Syria.
The UN General Assembly on Friday will elect the members of the Human Rights Council for a three-year term beginning in 2017.
Other than Russia, China and Saudi Arabia are almost guaranteed to win seats as their regional grouping is putting forward a clean slate of four countries for four seats. The other two are Iraq and Japan.
Brazil, Cuba and Guatemala will be battling for two seats representing Latin America.
Africa is also presenting a clean slate with Egypt, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia set to win seats.
The United States and Britain are seeking election to the two seats representing the Western Europe and others group.