GENEVA, February 24, 2010 – UN Watch, which heads the Global NGO Campaign to Remove Libya from the UN Human Rights Council, welcomed a new EU draft for tomorrow’s meeting that calls for suspension of the Qaddafi regime from the world’s top human rights body. Click here for text of EU’s new draft resolution.
“The original draft ignored the fact that Libya’s council membership is a moral obscenity that must be rectified immediately,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group, and an international lawyer who represents Libyan torture victims. “After our objections were widely published, the EU thankfully revised their draft. We’re also grateful that that our other demands were met — for a special session, an international inquiry, and required follow-up at the March and June sessions.”
The revised EU draft resolution now “recommends to the United Nations General Assembly, in view of the gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Libyan authorities, the consideration of the application of the [membership suspension] measures.” The African Group, China and Cuba objected to the provision during public consultations today, but it remained unclear if they would vote against it tomorrow.
“Because the council can do no more than call on the UN General Assembly to effect the suspension, we now urge the US, the EU and other states to convene the New York plenary to suspend Libya.”
“While the council draft regrettably stops short of directly condemning Moammar Qaddafi, the resolution makes clear that his regime is regarded by the world as an international criminal. It is, of course, tragic that not a single state ever spoke out earlier. Who knows if things could have turned out differently if members of the regime knew that the world was watching and cared about the basic human rights of the Libyan people.”
“The human rights council meeting is necessary, but hardly sufficient to protect victims of Qaddafi’s slaughter,” said Neuer. We need to see concrete international action, like a no-fly zone. The UN Security Council must take immediate action on the ground to stop the bloodbath. Meanwhile, all it has done is adopt a press statement, and a relatively mild one at that.”
Chronology: The NGO Campaign to Remove Libya From the UN Human Rights Council
- May 2010: UN Watch leads 37 NGOs in a protest on the eve of Libya’s election to the UNHRC, with a widely covered media event at UN Headquarters in New York, and a mass email campaign. Countries are urged to oppose Qaddafi’s candidacy. Instead, in a secret ballot, the UN elects Libya by a landslide of 155 out of 192 UNGA votes. UN Watch warns on Swiss TV that Qaddafi’s government is a “murderous and racist regime.” Not a single country speaks out against Libya’s candidacy or election.
- September 2010: Libya takes its seat at the council. UN Watch launches a global campaign, supported by 30 NGOs, and victims of Libyan abuses, to remove the Qaddafi regime. To confront the Libyans in the plenary UN Watch brings Bob Monetti, whose 20-year-old son was murdered in Libya’s 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103; Mohamed Eljahmi, brother of slain dissident Fathi Eljahmi; Kristyana Valcheva, one of the five Bulgarian nurses who were framed, imprisoned and tortured for eight years on false charges of poisoning children with HIV; and Ashraf El-Hajouj, the Palestinian doctor framed and tortured together with the nurses. The Libyans and their allied regimes rudely interrupt the speakers. The incident and the victims’ appeal to remove Libya is widely covered by dedicated stories in Voice of America and Agence France Presse, and by a cover story in Sweden’s Neo magazine. “The HRC grants legitimacy to ‘murderous’ Gadaffi regime,” reported Radio Netherlands on UN Watch’s campaign. Yet the UN council and its member states stay silent.
- November 2010: When Libya’s abysmal human rights record is addressed under the council’s universal review procedure, UN Watch renews its call for the Qaddafi regime to be removed. The appeal is reported by Germany’s DPA, Swissinfo and elsewhere. Yet the UN council and its member states stay silent.
- February 21, 2010: Working closely with Libyan dissident Mohamed Eljahmi — who sounds the alarm on massive atrocities being committed by the Qaddafi regime — UN Watch spearheads an international appeal by 70 human rights groups to remove Libya. The plea for UN action is covered around the world. Three days later, the EU requests a special session of the Human Rights Council, but fails to contest Libya’s council membership.
- Yesterday: UN Watch publicly calls on EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton, and the governments of France, Germany, and the UK, to demand Libya’s removal from the council.
- Today: Finally, for the first time in the council’s five-year history, the EU calls for the suspension of a council member — Libya — on grounds of committing gross and systematic human rights violations. The vote is tomorrow.
UN Watch has been the leading voice at the United Nations challenging Libyan human rights abuses for several years. To see statements on Libyan abuses click here; for compelling YouTube videos, click here.