UN Human Rights Council recommends suspension of Libya

In an unprecedented move, the United Nations Human Rights Council has acted to suspend one of its members.

UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay and Human Rights Council President Sihasak Phuangketkeow © UN Photo/ Jean-Marc FerreThe Human Rights Council has unanimously sought to invoke rules governed by the United Nations General Assembly to suspend Libya’s membership from the council because of gross human rights violations.

The recommendation reads: “to the United Nations General Assembly, in view of the gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Libyan authorities, the consideration of the application of the measures foreseen in OP8 of General Assembly Resolution 60/251.”

The resolution states that it “…decides the membership in the Council shall be open to all States Members of the United Nations; when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto; 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…”

The Council strongly condemned the recent gross and systematic human rights violations committed in Libya.

Libyan representative

And in a twist of events, a Libyan diplomat to the United Nations in Geneva told the Human Rights Council that they had decided to serve as representatives of the Libyan people.

"We only represent the Libyan people," First Secretary-Abdel Shalut said.

Shalut said the young people of Libya, the grandchildren of the revolution, were today writing a new chapter in the history of struggle and resistance.

At the diplomat's request, Council members stood in a minute's silence in honour of the victims of the current violence.

Libya, is first member of the Human Rights Council to be the subject of a Special Session.

The Council also decided to urgently, dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry. The team will be appointed by the president of the Human Rights Council, will investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya.

Speaking at the opening of the Council’s meeting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, reiterated her earlier call for an international investigation into the human rights violations in Libya, said: “I encourage all international actors to take necessary measures to compel the Libyan Government to stop the bloodshed.

The Council urged the Libyan authorities to prevent more bloodshed in the country and ensure safety for all civilians.

“…in brazen and continuing breach of international law, the crackdown in Libya of peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protestors,” the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay told the Council.

The Human Rights chief reiterated the State’s obligation to protect the peoples’ rights to life, liberty and security. 

Pillay reminded governments that it the responsibility of the State to protect populations from crimes against humanity and other international crimes.

She also expressed concern for refugees fleeing the unrest to neighbouring countries, and urged neighbouring states to receive and treat them “humanely.”

The Human Rights Council called on the Libyan government cooperation to guarantee access to human rights and humanitarian organizations including human rights monitors.

The special session was convened at the request of Hungary and endorsed by 61 States members as well as observer states of the Council, all representing the different regions of the world.

25 February 2011