International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 15th Special Session (25 February 2011)
Situation of human rights in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Speaker: IHEU Representative, Roy W Brown
The illegal use of force by Libya
Recent events in North Africa and the Middle East have horrified decent people throughout the world. The use of armed force against peaceful demonstrations is reminiscent of the dictatorships of the 1930s and 1940s.
It was to prevent a repeat of such “barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind” that the UN created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Yet we are now seeing states violating international law and killing their citizens with utter contempt for their human rights.
What should give us particular cause for concern, Mr President, is that this Council has such States, including Libya, among its membership.
The criterion for membership in the Human Rights Council is a state’s “contribution … to the promotion and protection of human rights”, and members must pledge to uphold international standards of human rights.
In light of Libya’s flagrant violation of its citizens’ human rights, we call upon the Council to seek the expulsion of Libya from membership1 until such time as it has pledged itself to honour its obligations under international law. And we ask the Council to urgently consider the most appropriate measures to be taken against any Member State that continues to act in total disregard for the human rights of its citizens.
The Council should be in no doubt, Mr President, that it is faced, yet again, with a test of its ability to deal effectively with the most appalling abuse of human rights.
For the sake of its future reputation and effectiveness, Mr President – and the very future of universal human rights – the Council must now take firm and effective action against Libya.
Thank you, sir.
Note: 1. The Council itself has no power to suspend a member state but must ask the General Assembly to do so.