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Wednesday, March 2, 2011     GET REAL

UN suspends Libya from Human Rights Council, and the sparks fly

By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly voted unanimously to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council in response to the Gadhafi regime’s continuing crackdown on protests rocking the North African country.


The Assembly voted on a draft resolution proposed by Arab and African states, condemning any Council member who “commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.” This action was the first time a member of the 47 member Council was suspended in the Geneva-based body.

Speaking before the vote, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon decried the continuing loss of life and, “the ongoing repression of the population and the clear incitement to violence against the civilian population,” by Colonel Gadhafi.

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Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly called the Gadhafi regime’s actions “flagrant human rights violations.” Hungary’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, decried the “massive and shocking violence,” sweeping Libya.

Following the vote, Venezuela Ambassador Jorge Valero launched a tirade against American policy which he described as the “warmongering mobilization” of the United States against Libya with the intention to “establish a protectorate.” Valero warned Washington was planning military occupation of Libya.

The Venezuelan delegate chastised, what he called, the human rights “double standards by imperialists.” Conversely, some human rights activists opined how a regime such as Libya could have been elected to the Human Rights Council in the first place.

American UN Ambassador Susan Rice returned the rhetorical fire calling the Venezuelan Ambassador’s comments a “willful and ugly distortion of U.S. policy.” She added that the delegate has “spread lies and sowed hate.”

In remarks to reporters following the meeting, Amb. Rice reiterated: “The Venezuelan Perm[anent] Rep’s comments were ugly and reprehensible … And, you know, he can live in the fantasy world that he apparently does. Apparently there’s more than one delusional person speaking aloud this week.” This was a reference to the Libyan leader.

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s suspension from the Council follows a far more serious political setback days earlier when the UN Security Council unanimously supported a tough sanctions resolution against the Gadhafi regime, and comes to the backdrop of widening violence and an escalating humanitarian crisis in the North African state.

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