Amidst all the reports of Libya’s crackdown on protestors, to include using their armed forces to kill and maim demonstrators, I think it’s good to go back to two news stories.
The first is roughly 8 years ago:
Libya was elected today by secret ballot to head the top United Nations human rights panel – a break from nearly 50 years of tradition in which chairpersons are elected by acclamation.
During the selection of its officers for 2003, Ambassador Najat Al-Hajjaji was elected Chairperson of the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights by a secret ballot of 33 countries in favour, with three opposed and 17 abstentions.
According to a Commission spokesman, the procedure – invoked today by the United States – can be requested to contest a nomination for the panel’s chairperson. Explanations of vote are not allowed, as they are following public ballots.
Upon her election, Ambassador Al-Hajjaji said the Commission must affirm the universality, indivisibility and complementarity of human rights, and that it must send a clear message that it will deal with human rights in all countries – not just some of them – taking into account the different religious, cultural and historical backgrounds in the world.
A clear message was definitely sent, a message now being confirmed as Libya slaughters her citizens. But the UN didn’t stop there, what follows happened in May of last year:
On 14 May, Libya won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), however it was not much of a competition – Libya ran unopposed (together with 13 other nations, including Angola, Malaysia and Qatar – all of whom have questionable human rights records and were also elected unopposed).
In its 2010 Freedom in the World annual survey, Freedom House awarded Libya the lowest possible rating for both political and civil liberties (others in this category included Sudan and North Korea).
Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva based NGO, UN Watch, headed a diverse global coalition of 37 human rights groups that fought to defeat Libya’s candidacy, with appeals urging the US and the EU to lead an opposition campaign. Unfortunately, that campaign fell on deaf ears.
Following Libya’s election, Neuer said:
by electing serial human rights violators, the U.N. violates its own criteria as well as common sense. Choosing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to judge others on human rights is a joke… he’ll use the position not to promote human rights but to shield his record of abuse, and those of his allies…
The UNHRC was created in 2006, with a specific task to create a new body to tackle human rights abuses, in light of its discredited predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights. The Commission was largely criticised for its one-sided obsession with Israel and the make up of its members, which included, amongst others, such human rights luminaries as Cuba, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and China. It was argued that this created impunity for the world’s worst human rights abusers and prevented the Commission from helping those in real need of its assistance. Even former Secretary General Kofi Annan, said the Commission had a “fatal credibility deficit” that was casting “a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.”
Tragically however, with the election of Libya, a gross abuser of human rights and supporter of terrorism, the new UNHRC makes a complete mockery of human rights and appears to be no different to its discredited predecessor.
The debate over whether the United Nations will continue to overcharge American taxpayers is over–and the U.S. wound up on the losing end. In a dramatic turnaround from steady declines since 2001, the percentage that the U.S. will be charged for U.N. peacekeeping has been sharply increased for the next three years, and U.S. taxpayers will end up paying roughly $100 million more each year than they would have if the 2009 assessment rate had been maintained.
Even more troubling than the outcome, though, is the seeming disinterest of the Obama Administration in opposing this increase. Indeed, the Administration did not even bother to demand a vote on the resolution.
The UN is a joke. This President is a joke.
Unfortunately for us and for the free world, none of it is funny.
UPDATE: This just in, no threat seen to Libya’s seat on top U.N. Human Rights body.