Update: UN passes unanimous resolution praising Qaddafi’s rights record

Report was ridiculed by New York Times, The Economist, and other media worldwide

Amnesty USA chief says report is “abhorrent,” calls for “redo”

GENEVA, March 14, 2012 — A UN report that has been ridiculed worldwide for lavishing praise on the Qaddafi regime’s human rights was unanimously adopted today by the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, despite an objection voiced in the plenary by the Geneva-based UN Watch group.


The report, which summarizes the council’s Nov. 9, 2010 review of Libya, sparked outrage among human rights activists from the Geneva-based UN Watch as well as Amnesty USA.

Originally slated for adoption in March 2011, a strong protest by the non-governmental UN Watch monitoring group, which also led last year’s successful NGO Campaign to Remove Libya from the UN Human Rights Council, generated headlines in the New York Times and other media worldwide, causing a red-faced UN to postpone the report’s adoption until today.

The New York Times wrote last year about today’s report: “Until Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent suppression of unrest in recent weeks, the United Nations Human Rights Council was kind in its judgment of Libya. In January, it produced a draft report on the country that reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise, when not delicately suggesting improvements.”

“The council’s review of the Qaddafi regime was a fraud, and should have been declared a mistrial,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Similarly, Suzanne Nossel, the head of Amnesty USA and a former senior human rights official in the Obama Administration, recently described the UN report as “abhorrent,” and called for a “redo.”

The report’s main effect, said Neuer today, “was to falsely praise Qaddafi’s oppressive regime, insult his victims, and harm the reputation of the UN.”

“The report completely contradicts the council’s own commission of inquiry, which found evidence of Qaddafi war crimes. The council should have set an example of accountability by acknowledging that its original review was deeply flawed.”

“Although the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism is often described as the council’s saving grace, the vast majority of council members used it to falsely praise the Qaddafi regime for its alleged promotion of human rights,” said Neuer.

The report also includes praise of the old regime’s record expressed by Qaddafi-era diplomats who have since changed sides and now represent the new government.  “With Libya’s own UN diplomats now admitting that the Gaddafi regime was a gross violator of human rights, it is nonsensical for the UN to adopt this false report,” said Neuer.

“We should have scheduled a new session in which council members would tell the truth about the Qaddafi regime’s heinous crimes, which were committed over four decades yet ignored by the UN,” said Neuer. “Libya’s long-suffering victims deserve no less.”

The UN report’s summary notes that delegations “commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” and that they “noted with appreciation the country’s commitment to upholding human rights on the ground.”

Chronology: UN Watch’s Campaign to Remove Libya From the UN Human Rights Council

UN Watch