UN suspends Libya from rights council
New York – The UN General Assembly suspended Libya from its top human rights body as governments worldwide pressured Muammar Gaddafi to halt the deadly crackdown on his people.
The 192 UN member nations voted by consensus on the council’s recommendation to suspend Libya’s membership on the UN’s top human rights body for committing “gross and systematic violations of human rights”. General Assembly President Joseph Deiss called for the vote and signaled its adoption by consensus by banging his wooden gavel.
The resolution sponsored by Arab and African states also expressed “deep concern” about the human rights situation in Libya.
It is the first time any country has been suspended from the 47-member council since it was formed in 2006. Based in Geneva, the council is charged with strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.
Libya’s suspension from the rights body comes after the UN Security Council and United States’ imposition of sanctions on Muammar Gaddafi, his family and top associates, and the Arab League, the African Union and the Organisation of Islamic Conference’s condemnation of Libya’s deadly attacks on civilians.
There have been no moves by the UN to create a no-fly zone, and the idea has been rejected by Russia, which has a veto-wielding permanent seat on the Security Council. But British Foreign Minister William Hague said on Tuesday that his country and its allies could seek a no-fly zone without a UN mandate.
Canada announced on Tuesday it had frozen 2.3 billion Canadian dollars ($2.4bn) in assets belonging to Gaddafi’s regime. The government did not detail the assets.
Canada is also sending a warship to the Libyan coast, adding to an international military buildup in the region.
Tuesday’s vote suspending Libya from the council does not permanently remove it from the body, but prevents it from participation until the General Assembly determines whether to restore the country to full status.
At a gathering of the UN Human Rights Council before last week’s vote there, Libyan diplomats to the UN in Geneva were given a standing ovation as they announced they were renouncing Gaddafi’s government. They, like Libyan diplomats to the UN in New York, have supported the UN moves against the government.