The apex body of the UN on human rights today approved a resolution to extend the mandate of an independent expert to document alleged human rights abuses in Russia, which activists say have risen sharply since its invasion of Ukraine last year.

Eighteen members of the United Nations Human Rights Council voted in favor, while 22 abstained and seven voted against.

The Special Rapporteur is one of the last avenues for civil society to draw international attention to its important work and give a voice to those who risk their livesKatarina Stass, Germany’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the Council.

Special rapporteur Mariana Katzarova said last month that the human rights situation in Russia had deteriorated significantly since the country invaded Ukraine last February, describing a “systematic crackdown” on civil society.

It says in a report that Russia has adopted laws to “silence civil society and punish human rights activists and others for their anti-war stance.”

Moscow has previously called such criticisms of its rights unfounded.

When the special rapporteur’s mandate was created last year, it was the first time the UN Human Rights Council was authorized to examine the background of one of the so-called “P5” members of the United Nations, who hold permanent seats on the Security Council.

“This resolution is not a reflection of politicization, but reflects the need to ensure universal respect for human rights,” said Michelle Taylor, the United States’ permanent representative to the UN Human Rights Council.

“No country is above control, no matter how embarrassing or embarrassing it finds it, no matter how powerful its military, no matter how far-reaching its proxies, and no matter how aggressively it threatens or cajoles other countries,” Taylor said.