Home inContext UN Report Praises Libya’s Human Rights Record

UN Report Praises Libya’s Human Rights Record

Samara Greenberg

As the bloodshed in Libya continues – the most recent reports indicate Muammar Qaddafi is staging new attacks on rebel strongholds – the UN Human Rights Council is set to adopt a major report hailing Libya’s human rights record, despite the fact that the UN General Assembly on Tuesday voted to suspend the Arab country’s council membership for committing “gross and systematic violations of human rights.”

The 23-page UN report, which according to the council’s agenda will be reviewed and voted on this month, was compiled as part of the council’s “Universal Periodic Review,” a process the UN bills as a rigorous scrutiny of the human rights records of each UN member state every four years. While “touted as the No. 1 innovation because everyone would be scrutinized equally,” said Anne Bayefsky, Eye on the UN chief, “the rules enable them [human rights abuser states] to line up countries that support them to speak on their behalf. The result is that human rights abuser states come away from the process looking like they were open-minded and had subjected themselves to scrutiny.”

The venue for the Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva.

Indeed, countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Cuba were just a handful of the nations that spoke positively on Libya’s record. While Iran noted that Libya “had implemented a number of international human rights instruments and had cooperated with relevant treaty bodies,” North Korea praised Libya “for its achievements in the protection of human rights,” including “efforts to empower women.” The report’s summary notes that delegations “commended” Libya, and that they “noted with appreciation the country’s commitment to upholding human rights on the ground.”

The report on Libya’s human rights record is just one more example of how UN members have hijacked the body to advance their personal goals, which do not coincide with the goals that established the world organization in 1945 such as “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all.” Perhaps it’s time that U.S. funding of the UN, which reached an all-time high of over $6 billion in fiscal year 2009, be contingent upon its behavior.