Israeli Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben 311.
(photo credit: Shahar Azran)
NEW YORK – Israel fully supports Libya’s suspension from membership in the Human
Rights Council, Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben told the General Assembly on
Tuesday, calling the suspension “long overdue.”
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“For years we have been
calling attention to the dire and alarming human rights situations in our
region. The Libyan situation is a representative case in point,” Reuben
“It is regrettable that such tragedies are only addressed when
crises and murderous crimes – as in this case – unfold, despite the fact that
such systematic, long-standing abhorrent human rights violations have been
well-documented throughout the years,” he said.
“Libya under its current
notorious regime should never have been elected to sit as a member in the Human
In an “historic” occasion on Tuesday that Reuben
referred to as a “wakeup call,” the General Assembly unanimously approved
suspending Libya’s membership in the Geneva-based UN Human Rights
Noting that this is the first time either the Human Rights
Council or its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, has suspended a member
state for gross violations of human rights, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice
said the vote is “an important step forward in enhancing the credibility of the
Human Rights Council, whose credibility on these issues has often, quite
legitimately, been called into question.”
On the floor of the General
Assembly, Rice said the unanimous suspension meant the body “has acted in the
noblest traditions of the United Nations – and made it clear that governments
that turn their guns on their own people have no place on the Human Rights
“Membership on the Human Rights Council should be earned through
respect for human rights, and not accorded to those who abuse them,” Rice said
in her speech.
She deemed it “very significant and an important
development” that Lebanon took the lead on the resolution, which was
co-sponsored by the US, and noted that many other Arab countries sponsored the
resolution, confronting issues of human rights in an Arab country
Venezuelan UN Ambassador Jorge Valero was a lone detractor,
saying the General Assembly was wrong to suspend Libya because a planned Human
Rights Council investigation in Libya had not yet taken place.
decision like this could only take place after an objective and credible
investigation that confirms the veracity of the facts,” he said.
accused the United States of planning an invasion of Libya, saying that “those
who promote the use of military force against Libya do not seek to defend human
rights, but to establish... a protectorate to violate them in one of the most
important sources of oil and energy in the Middle East.”
On the floor of
the General Assembly, Rice responded to the Venezuelan’s accusations, saying
that the US “utterly rejects the willful and ugly distortion by the Venezuelan
delegation of US policy and posture.
“At a time when this assembly is
acting in unison in support of the Libyan people, it is shameful that one member
state, whose own reprehensible record speaks for itself, would manipulate this
occasion to spread lies, foster fear, and sow hate,” she said.
the Venezuelan permanent representative’s remarks “ugly and reprehensible,” Rice
said at a press conference after the General Assembly session that “he can live
in the fantasy world that he apparently does.”
Rice said the Security
Council has “not yet” discussed the prospect of military intervention in
The suspension met with near universal approval from government
officials and nongovernmental entities alike.
“I strongly welcome the UN
General Assembly’s resolution to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council.
This outcome, which the UK has pressed for with partners, demonstrates the unity
of the international community and its commitment to hold the Libyan regime
accountable,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.