The World Tourism Organization voted during its first session of the General Assembly on Wednesday to suspend Russia over the Kremlin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations agency announced through a news release.
The suspension vote by the UNWTO, which is designed to promote and support tourism worldwide, far exceeded the required two-thirds majority in the General Assembly and is effective immediately, according to the news release.
Russia will now lose services from the agency, including technical assistance, participation in its meetings or events, ability to put forward candidates for its statutory bodies, permission to vote in organization-affiliated elections, or capability to nominate a UNWTO secretary-general.
Zurab Pololikashvili, the agency's secretary-general, emphasized how the overwhelming vote "sent a clear message" to Russia and the world.
"Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and Members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions," Pololikashvili wrote. "This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia's actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance."
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba applauded the decision in a statement on Thursday, extending his gratitude to those who supported the measure.
"Russia has been suspended from UNWTO at its General Assembly's first extraordinary session. Grateful to all members who backed this move. The only travel direction for Russian war criminals should be The Hague. Russia's isolation will deepen with each day of its war on Ukraine," Kuleba said.
The development came the same week Kuleba and other Ukrainian officials alleged that Russia struck Kyiv with missiles while the U.N. secretary-general and others were visiting, The Hill reported.
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