(photo credit: Associated Press)
The United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) is due to debate the suspension
of Libya from the 47-member body when it holds a special session in Geneva on
Friday to condemn the violence taking place there.
The meeting marks the
first time in the council’s five-year history that it is holding a special
session regarding one of its own members.
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On Thursday, diplomats in
Geneva strengthened the language of the draft resolution, submitted by the
European Union, to include a call to the UN General Assembly in New York to
suspend Libya from the HRC, another unprecedented move.
acknowledged the “decision of the Arab League to suspend Libya from its sessions
in light of the deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters.”
that member states have an obligation to uphold the highest standards in the
promotion and protection of human rights, and that the General Assembly may
suspend the membership of a state that has committed “gross and systematic
violations of human rights.”
The resolution also called for an
independent UN-led probe of the violence in Libya. However, it failed to
directly condemn the Libyan government, speaking only of human rights violations
in Libya, “including indiscriminate armed attacks against civilians,
extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of peaceful
demonstrators, which if either widespread or systematic, would amount to crimes
It said that those responsible for the attacks should
be held accountable.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of the NGO UN
Watch, told The Jerusalem Post that he welcomed the draft resolution’s call to
suspend Libya’s HRC membership.
UN Watch has called for Libya’s removal
from the council ever since it was granted membership in May, Neuer
“We urge the UN General Assembly to convene immediately and take
action to suspend Libya. There is no time to spare,” he said, adding that it was
“tragic” that states had not spoken out about this earlier.
“Who knows if
the Gaddafi regime might have been less arrogant if it knew the world was
watching out for the human rights of the Libyan people,” Neuer said.
Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on the international
community to condemn the Libyan violence, including its government, although he
did not mention the HRC meeting.
“I think that when a regime takes its
army and security forces, and maliciously fires on its people, indiscriminately,
and slaughters hundreds, this is a horrible thing,” Netanyahu said. “This
obligates the strong condemnation of all civilized countries, certainly
civilized democracies, and we strongly condemn it.”
invoked the post-election protests that convulsed Iran in 2009.
that we saw a similar sight on the streets of Tehran when the Iranian regime
turned to its security forces and commando units and fired with malice and
cruelty into the crowd and left Iranian citizens lying on the sidewalks, choking
on their own blood,” the prime minister said.
“This is horrifying; it is
horrifying in Libya and it is horrifying in Tehran as well. It obliges and
demands strong and clear condemnation in both cases.”
Israel is one of
more than 53 countries that signed a call for the special session of the HRC and
is expected to address the council in Geneva on Friday.
Next week, US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to travel to Geneva to discuss Libya
and unrest elsewhere in the Middle East with human rights diplomats, and to
address the HRC.