GENEVA, March 3 – UN rights chief Navi Pillay was criticized in the plenary of the UN Human Rghts Council today for allegedly ignoring Libyan human rights violations prior to the current crisis, and for her alleged silence when the UN legitimized the Qaddafi regime through a series of appointments to key human rights and world bodies.

In her response to questions posed by UN member states and NGOs, she declined to answer the queries made to her in the council plenary today by UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights monitoring group.  See UN Watch statement below.

UN Watch Statement
Interactive Dialogue with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
UN Human Rights Council Plenary
Delivered by Executive Director Hillel Neuer, March 3, 2011

Madame High Commissioner, we thank you for your report, and applaud its emphasis on the core principle of accountability. We commend your recent leadership on human rights in Libya. As you stated, “the people of Libya had long been victims of the serious excesses of the Libyan leadership.”

In this regard, given that accountability begins at home, we wish to ask whether your office has begun to reflect upon how, in recent years, the United Nations and its human rights system could have shown greater solidarity with Libya’s victims. We offer five specific questions:

1. Given that your responsibility is to mainstream human rights throughout the U.N. system, we ask: When the Qaddafi regime was chosen to serve on the Security Council for 2008 and 2009; when its representative was chosen as President of the General Assembly in 2009; when Col. Qaddafi’s daughter Ayesha was designated in 2009 a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador — why did you not speak out?

2. According to a study of all your published statements from September 2008 through June 2010, you never once mentioned human rights in Libya. Why?

3. Your report refers to your office’s strong support for the Durban process, for which you served as Secretary-General of its 2009 World Conference on Racism. When a representative of the Libyan regime was chosen to chair that conference’s two-year planning committee, and to chair the main committee, why did you not speak out?

4. When the Qaddafi regime was elected as a member of this council last year, why did you not speak out?

5. Your report refers to the council’s Advisory Committee. In 2008, ignoring the appeal of UN Watch and 25 human rights groups, the council elected Jean Ziegler, the co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize—a propaganda tool for the regime—to this body. Last year he was made the committee’s vice-president. Why did you not speak out?

And will you now call on the recipients of this prize—former Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1998, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2004, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in 2009, and Turkish PM Erdogan in 2010—to renounce this prize, and to apologize to all the human rights victims—past and present—of Col. Muammar Qaddafi?

Thank you, Madame High Commissioner.

##### END OF SPEECH ####

Background on Libya at the UN Human Rights Council

  • Nine months after shamefully electing the Qaddafi regime to its Human Rights Council, the UN this week reversed itself and suspended Libya’s membership. Click here for details and comment.
  • From the moment the Libyan regime declared its candidacy last year, UN Watch initiated the opposition to Qaddafi sitting as a world judge of human rights. Click here for chronology of UN Watch’s tireless campaign.
  • In September, when the Libyan regime took its seat, UN Watch launched the campaign for Libya’s suspension from the Geneva-based Council, becoming the first voice to do so. We were supported by 27 human rights groups, a number that surpassed 80 in our renewed NGO appeal of nine days ago.


From UNW’s 2010-2011 Campaign to Oust Qaddafi from UNHRC


  • May 2010: UN Watch Fights Libyan Bid at UN Headquarters
    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.
  • Sept. 2010 UN Watch Appeal to Oust Libya Supported by 27 NGOs
    “The election of the Libyan Arab Jamahariya to the UN Human Rights Council is an outrage to the global human rights community. Given its notorious record as one of the world’s worst violators of human rights, the Qaddafi regime’s membership on the Council flies in the face of the United Nations’ promise, enshrined in Resolution 60/251 (2006), to elect member states that are committed to the promotion and protection of human rights.” Read more


  • Sept: 2010: Voice of America Reports on UN Watch Campaign
    “An overwhelming majority of U.N. member states elected Libya to the 47-member Council in May. U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer calls this an outrage. He says it sends the wrong message to what he calls the victims of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.”  Read more




  • Sept. 2010 Palestinian Doctor Challenges Council on Including Libya
    “Our trials were seriously flawed. The confessions obtained by torture were used and admitted in court against us. Evidence by experts on HIV was disregarded by the Libyan courts. Mr. President, in the name of universal human rights, how can Libya be elected a member of the Human Rights Council?”  Read more



UN Watch