AJC Welcomes Suspension of Libya from UN Human Rights Council

Mar 01, 2011, 17:39 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK,  March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC welcomed today's suspension of Libya's membership in the UN Human Rights Council. The UN General Assembly approved the resolution without a vote, demonstrating the widespread support for this unprecedented measure.

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"We applaud the UN General Assembly action," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "It is both timely and warranted in light of the deadly violence unleashed by Colonel Qaddafi and his henchmen in a desperate effort to hold onto power. It's important to note that this is the first time a member state of any UN human rights body has been suspended."

AJC proposed Libya's suspension from the Geneva-based Council nine days ago, becoming the first voice to do so. In a statement at the time, AJC declared that, "The Qaddafi regime's widespread use of brutal force against protesters makes a mockery of the UN Human Rights Council... Libya's membership in the UN 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."

Today's UN General Assembly meeting followed the emergency session of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on Friday, which recommended suspending Libya's membership and establishing a commission of inquiry to consider whether crimes against humanity have been committed by the Qaddafi regime.

"Perhaps this unfolding tragedy will also prompt more careful consideration of who gets to serve on the 47-nation Human Rights Council," Harris added. "After all, serial violators of human rights – and Libya is not the only one to serve on the Human Rights Council – have no business serving on the body meant to monitor and protect human rights around the world."

AJC has had a long history of involvement with the UN, beginning with the drafting of the UN Charter itself in 1945, at which time AJC leaders were credited by historians with a key role in the inclusion of human-rights protections in the Charter. Today, AJC maintains an affiliate, UN Watch, in Geneva.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee