UN throws Libya off human rights council

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 10:08

United Nations: The United Nations on Tuesday suspended Libya from its main human rights body over Moamer Gaddafi`s crackdown on protests amid warnings of new Security Council action against the regime.

With growing western calls for a no-fly zone over Libya, Britain`s UN envoy said the council would take "whatever measures we consider necessary to respond to events on the ground."

The 192-member assembly passed a suspension resolution by consensus, without a vote, after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the body to "act decisively" against Gaddafi.
The Human Rights Council in Geneva had called for the suspension which needed a two-thirds majority at the General Assembly to be passed. It is the first time it has acted against a member.

Nobody spoke up for the Libyan regime at the brief debate, though Venezuela accused the United States of planning an invasion of Libya, provoking US fury.

"This unprecedented action sends another clear warning to Mr. Gaddafi and those who still stand by him: they must stop the killing," said US ambassador Susan Rice, reaffirming calls for Gaddafi to "go."

The action came three days after the UN Security Council passed sanctions against the regime, including a travel ban and assets freeze against Gaddafi and his family and leading officials, arms embargo and call for a crimes against humanity investigation.

British envoy Mark Lyall Grant called the General Assembly vote a "powerful" signal and added that new Security Council action against Libya is possible.

"On the question of the no-fly zone, we are not ruling anything out at this stage. The Security Council is keeping the issue under review. There are consultations going on between the different members of the Security Council," he said.

"We will look at what is happening on the ground and we will look to take whatever measures we consider necessary to respond to events on the ground," Lyall Grant told reporters.

The US ambassador denied however that there had been council discussions on a no-fly zone.

The UN chief told the General Assembly that there are now more than 1,000 dead and thousands injured in the Libya unrest and praised the near universal condemnation of Gaddafi.

"While more members of the military are reportedly abandoning the regime and joining the demonstrations, Colonel Gaddafi and his supporters appear to be holding a tight grip on western parts of the country, chiefly in Tripoli and neighboring areas.
"According to some accounts, the government is also deploying forces along the Tunisian border."

Ban went on: "In these difficult and unpredictable circumstances, it is critical that the international community remain united."

Security Council are privately debating the merits of some kind of military action in Libya and the General Assembly debate was clouded by Venezuela`s demands that all countries to "put a stop to the invasion plans against Libya" which ambassador Jorge Valero said the United States was leading.

US ambassador Susan Rice called the Venezuelan comments "shameful," a "willful and ugly distortion."

"He can live in the fantasy world that he apparently does. Apparently there is more than one delusional person speaking aloud this week," Rice added in a lightly veiled comparison to Gaddafi.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 10:08

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