Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Libya: AJC Calls on UN General Assembly to Suspend Libya's Membership in Human Rights Council

AJC called today on the United Nations General Assembly to suspend Libya's membership in the UN Human Rights Council.

"The Qaddafi regime's widespread use of brutal force against protestors makes a mockery of the UN Human Rights Council," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

According to the 2006 UN General Assembly resolution creating the Council, "the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, may suspend the rights of membership in the Council of a member of the Council that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights."

Libya was elected to a three-year term on the Council in May 2010. It received 155 votes from the 192-member UN General Assembly.

At the time of the election, AJC declared that "Libya should be the subject of a UN Human Rights Council investigation, not an active member. Libya's uncontested election demonstrates yet again the current Council's blithe disregard for consistently upholding the human rights clauses of the UN Charter."

"Our words just a few months ago ring all the more true today," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "The world must not stand by while hundreds of people are being systematically killed, and many more brutalized and threatened as Qaddafi seeks to hold to the power he seized nearly 42 years ago."

AJC is urging the UN General Assembly to gather immediately in New York to take up the suspension of Libya's membership in the Council.

"Libya's membership in the Human Rights Council is clearly incompatible with the noble aims of the world body, as enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other relevant human rights instruments," said Harris. "We count on the U.S., EU and other like-minded democratic nations truly committed to the protection of human rights – and the good name of the UN – to take the lead at the General Assembly on this pressing issue."

Harris also called on the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, to convene a special session on Libya. A special session requires the support of one-third of the 47 members comprising the Council.

The 2006 UN resolution establishing the Council stipulated that "members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights."

"Not calling a special session on Libya will inevitably raise profound questions about the Council's role in defending universal human rights and avoiding, in the UN resolution's own words, any semblance of 'double standards and politicization,'" said Harris.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee