UNHRC calls on GA to suspend Libya’s membership

General Assembly to consider unprecedented request; Gaddafi regime condemned for ‘gross human rights violations’.

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February 25, 2011 19:22
3 minute read.
French President Sarkozy at the UN.

311_sarkozy making donut holes. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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The United Nations General Assembly is expected to consider suspending Libya’s membership in that body’s Human Rights Council within a number of days.

“The President of the General Assembly has informed me that this matter will be taken up early next week,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York on Friday.

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Such a move, the first in the council’s fiveyear history, would need the approval of twothirds of the UN’s 192 member states.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her government’s mission at the UN was working to build support for the passage of such a resolution.

She issued a statement on the matter after the UNHRC in Geneva on Friday unanimously called for the General Assembly to suspend Libya from its 47-member body.

During the meeting the Libyan delegation resigned and said that henceforth it represented only the people of Libya. It supported Friday’s resolution, which passed unanimously.



In the resolution, the UNHRC agreed to launch a UN-led investigation into the violence in Libya, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives in less than two weeks.

It also strongly condemned “the recent gross and systematic human rights violations committed in Libya, including indiscriminate armed attacks against civilians, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of peaceful demonstrators, some of which may also amount to crimes against humanity.”

But while the resolution called on the Libyan government to meet its responsibility to its citizens, at no point in the document did the council condemn the Libyan government.

Some 83 countries addressed the Friday session, including the Palestinians, who have observer status at the UN, and Israel.

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Most of the countries spoke in support of the resolution.

But a few states said they were concerned that foreign governments would manipulate the situation in Libya to their own ends.

Nicaraguan representative Carlos Robelo Raffone, whose country is not a UNHRC member, condemned the speculation of the Western mass media, which used “inflated and contradictory news” when speaking of Libya.

“They are whipping up violence and the possibility of foreign intervention so that imperialism can once again consolidate its domain and its hegemony in so many territories, which of course, provokes a great deal of interest in these predatory governments who are used to moving into these injured countries, bleeding them dry,” Raffone.

Countries that used to welcome the Libyan leader and do business with him have now turned their back on him, he said, as he urged the council not to condemn Libya.

Cuban representative Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez, whose country is a member of the UNHRC, accused some North American politicians and media of using the situation to incite violence, military aggression and intervention.

“We cannot accept the risk of opportunistically using this tragic situation to satisfy interventionists’ appetites. Mention is being made of humanitarian military situation, which we opposed,” he said.

Cuba said it denounced plans to occupy Libya and would reject any maneuver in that direction.

It added that it did not support suspending Libya from the council. Still, when it came time to vote, Cuba did not go on record as opposing the resolution.

Addressing the council, US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said that Libya could not remain a member.

“It is deeply disappointing that human rights are being so blatantly violated by a member of this Council. The continued participation of Libya in this forum undermines the core mission of the Council and its mandate and goals,” Donahoe said.

The UK Ambassador Peter Gooderham said, “The UK wants to send a clear message to the Libyan regime that the world is not just watching and making statements, but will continue to take action.”

After the resolution passed, Clinton said, “Today’s vote must be followed by sustained commitment and consistent action.”

She added that she plans to discuss this course of action with her colleagues when she arrives in Geneva on Monday to address the council at the opening of the council’s 16th regular session.

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