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Terrorist Takes Over United Nations Body
Defense of Democracy Foundatioin
January 17, 2003 10:31AM EST

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Briefing: Libya
And the UN Human Rights Commission

January 17, 2003

Key Facts

·          On January 20th, the UN Human Rights Commission will hold a vote in Geneva to approve Libya as chair for its next session.

·          The UN Human Rights Commission was created in 1947 "to examine, monitor and publicly report" on human rights violations worldwide.  Its chairmanship rotates among continents, and it was the African delegation’s turn to nominate their candidate.

·          Under dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has compiled one of the world’s worst human rights records, a history of terrorism and it has been involved in many of Africa’s most devastating wars. The nomination of such a regime to head the UN’s Human Rights commission can only be viewed as Orwellian – and a symptom of all that’s wrong with the United Nations.

·          The US State Department and members of Congress are leading a protest against the nomination. 


Ø      Libya’s track record of human rights abuses is among the worst in the world.

According to the human rights group Freedom House: "The United Nations itself has voiced concern over Libya's human rights practices, including extrajudicial and summary executions perpetrated by state agents, arbitrary arrest and long-term detention without trial, systematic use of torture and other ill-treatment or punishment, imposition of the death penalty for 'political and economic offenses,' and numerous restrictions on freedom of expression."

Ø       Muammar Qaddafi has a history of supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction.

In 1986, Qaddafi’s agents blew up the La Belle Disco in Berlin, killing two Americans and wounding dozens; in 1988 Libyan agents blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270; and, in 1989, they blew up a French airliner over the Sahara Desert, killing 170. Qaddafi has equipped and financed dozens of terrorist groups including the IRA (Ireland), ETA (Spain), and several Palestinian terrorist organizations, thereby earning Libya a spot on the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.  Libya has ongoing programs to develop weapons of mass destruction including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Of these, Libya is thought to have made the most progress with chemical weapons, with facilities in the towns of Rabta and Tahuna.

Ø      Qaddafi is covertly supplying weapons and money to foment civil wars throughout West Africa.

Qaddafi seeks to gain control in Africa by supplying weapons and aid to warlords and thugs across the continent. His protégés include Charles Taylor of Liberia, who launched a seven-year civil war that left 200,000 dead and 1 million refugees; Blaise Compaore, who took power in a bloody coup in Burkina Faso in 1987; and  dictator Robert Mugabe who has plunged Zimbabwe into prolonged famine. Libya is currently involved in wars in Congo and the Ivory Coast. It has supplied weapons to the Revolutionary United Front, a guerrilla group in Sierra Leone notorious for hacking off the limbs of tens of thousands of civilians to drive them out of diamond-rich areas. These “blood diamonds” are the currency for guerrilla groups, coup plotters and even al-Qaeda in Africa. The Washington Post reported on 12-29-02 that the governments of Liberia and Burkina Faso harbored al-Qaeda members in 2001 and helped them to go on a diamond-buying spree.

Policy Implications

Ø      Libya’s nomination is only the most recent sign that the UN Human Rights Commission is a travesty.

Human Rights Watch called the UN commission “a rogues' gallery of human rights abusers." Its 53 members include two-dozen human rights abusers, including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Zimbabwe and Sudan, whose Islamist government for years has been conducting a genocidal campaign against black Christians and animists --2 million people have been killed since 1980. Meanwhile, U.S. participation in the commission was blocked in 2001 and only recently restored.  US officials should work to block Libya from chairing the UN Human Rights Commission. Secretary General Kofi Annan should be called upon to speak out.

Ø      The root of the problem is moral equivalence -- the UN’s failure to distinguish between democracies and dictatorships.

To the UN, there is no difference between free nations and police states. Such an organization should not be viewed as either a moral authority or a world government.  

Additional Information

·          Libya Should Not Chair Human Rights Commission 01-16-02 & UN Rights Body Admits Abusive  Members, 05-03-01 (Human Rights Watch); Libya Must Not Chair Human Rights Commission, 01-13-02 (Freedom House)

·          Gadhafi peddles money, guns to allies in Africa – 12-09-02 (The Chicago Tribune); Libya's interventions in African countries – 12-17-02 (The Associated Press)


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