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UNWTO members suspend Russia

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Russia has been suspended from the UNWTO, following a vote by members of the General Assembly, and will lose its membership rights with immediate effect. Meeting for a first extraordinary UNWTO General Assembly, members debated the suspension of Russia from the organisation, as decided by the UNWTO Executive Council at its emergency meeting last month. The Russian delegation declined to step up and defend its position, and instead announced its withdrawal from UNWTO before the debate took place.

The Assembly voted in favour of suspension, exceeding the two-third majority required. The decision is effective immediately, while voluntary withdrawal is only effective one year after a member submits an official communication through the appropriate channels.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “UNWTO’s Members have sent a clear message: tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions. This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the decision to quit the UNWTO would not affect the sector in Russia. He said: “The tourism sector, especially domestic tourism, will continue its development. The external directions for tourism are also open, hinging on questions of competition in terms of quality and price.”

In total, 99 countries were represented in Madrid. According to Article 3 of the Statutes, all Members commit to developing tourism with a “view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity, and universal prospect for, and observance of, human rights”.

The Russian Federation will not be able to exercise the rights or enjoy the privileges of UNWTO membership. This means it will not be able to receive services from the organisation, including technical assistance, nor will the Russian Federation be able to participate in any UNWTO meetings or events, be permitted to put forward any candidates to serve on UNWTO’s statutory bodies, or to vote in UNWTO elections or to propose a candidate to serve as Secretary-General.

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