Update: UN rights council unanimously adopts resolution praising Qaddafi’s human 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 rights record was unanimously adopted today by a resolution of 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.

Suzanne Nossel, the head of Amnesty USA and a former senior human rights official in the Obama Administration, also 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

  • 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 TVthat 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; andAshraf 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.

UN Watch has been the leading voice at the United Nations challenging Libyan human rights abuses for many years. To see videos, click here.

UN Watch