Analysis and Commentary from UN Watch in Geneva
March 6, 2011 — Issue 279
After UN Watch Protest, U.N. Rights Council Pulls Report Singing Qaddafi's Praises
On Friday, UN Watch won another small victory for human rights, sanity and the victims of Col. Qaddafi, when the U.N. Human Rights Council announced it was shelving a report -- prepared prior to the current massacres in Libya -- that lavishly praised the Libyan regime for its record on human rights. See quotes here.
Although the U.N. last week suspended Libya from the council, the overwhelmingly pro-Qaddafi report remained scheduled to be presented on March 18 and then adopted by a council resolution.
But the sham came to halt when UN Watch sounded the alarm, exposing the report as a fraud and demanding that it be sidelined. The story went viral: UN Watch was interviewed on CNN International and Al Jazeera. The New York Times featured the story in today's Week in Review section. UN Watch was additionally quoted by Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The Washington Post online, Asian News International, The New York Sun, The Atlantic online, The Vancouver Sun, Czech daily newspaper Právo, Italy’s L’Opinione delle Liberta, SwissInfo, Estonia’s Ekspress, Spain’s El Correo, and Spain’s Radio Televisión Española.
See below for media quotes.
Quotes of the Week: UN Watch Impact in Major Media Worldwide
"Hillel Neuer of UN Watch said the main effect of the report, compiled after a review of Libya's record last November, "was to bolster Gaddafi's oppressive regime, demoralize his victims and harm the reputation of the U.N...." — R. Evans, "U.N. rights body sidelines report praising Libya," Reuters, March 3, 2011.
"U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization, reports that the U.N. Human Rights Council has issued a 23-page report praising the Gadhafi regime's human-rights record..." — James Taranto, "Human Rights Hero," The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 1, 2011. more...
"Hillel Neuer of the U.N. Watch [is] one of the strongest and most informed critics of the Human Rights Council..." — U.S. Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, opening statement at hearing entitled “Reforming the United Nations: Lessons Learned,” March 3, 2011.
UN Watch "has gleefully recalled the fulsome praise for Libya that many council members offered when that country was undergoing a review of its performance a few months ago. Iran had “noted with appreciation” the Libyan government’s new human-rights agency and its “enabling environment for NGOs”; Syria was impressed by Libya’s “democratic regime based on promoting the people’s authority”; and North Korea lauded Libya’s achievements “in the protection of human rights, especially…economic and social rights.” — "The United Nations and Libya," The Economist, March 3, 2011.
"Only after UN Watch's Hillel Neuer led several Geneva-based NGOs in a call to suspend Libya’s membership did European countries decide to act. America followed their lead.... Neuer has acted for years as a thorn in the side of Mr. Gadhafi, exposing in the process the hypocrisy of his Geneva enablers...." — B. Avni, "Obama Follows European Lead on Libya in Maneuvering at United Nations," The New York Sun, March 1, 2011.
"The U.N. postponed consideration of a report that praises Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi’s government for its human rights record.... U.N. Watch, a United Nations watchdog group which had called on the council to stop the report, likewise greeted the decision – though director Hillel Neuer said the council should nix the report altogether. He said its main effect was to "bolster Qaddafi's oppressive regime, demoralize his victims, and harm the reputation of the U.N. The review should be completely redone, and the truth told about Qaddafi's crimes." — "U.N. Council Postpones Consideration of Report Praising Libya's Human Rights Record," Fox News, March 3, 2011.
"L'examen du rapport de la Libye, prévu lors de la session en cours du Conseil des droits de l'homme, a été reporté. Le président du Conseil a décidé jeudi de repousser l'adoption de ce rapport discuté une première fois en novembre dernier.... "La majorité des Etats avaient salué en novembre les progrès réalisés par le régime de Kadhafi pour la promotion des droits de l'homme. Ce rapport était une honte et une insulte aux victimes libyennes", a dénoncé l'ONG UN Watch, pour laquelle l'adoption du rapport aurait été un non-sens." — "L'examen du rapport de la Libye reporté à l'ONU," Agence Télégraphique Suisse, March 3, 2011.
"It gives you heartburn to know the U.S. helps pay for this: "The Libyan situation ought to occasion some embarrassment at the United Nations. U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization, reports that the U.N. Human Rights Council has issued a 23-page report praising the Gadhafi regime's human-rights record." — J. Rubin, "Morning Bits," Washington Post blog, March 2, 2011.
"We welcome the decision by the Human Rights Council President in consultation with the Bureau to postpone consideration of the Working Group Report of the Libyan UPR. We hope that the Council completes adoption of the report at such a time when the voices of the Libyan people, and not just the voice of the Qadhafi regime, can be reflected in its final outcome." — Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council, "US Welcomes Postponement of HRC Consideration of Libyan UPR," March 3, 2011.
Libya’s Late, Great Rights Record
By TOM KUNTZ
Until Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s violent suppression of unrest in recent weeks, the United Nations Human Rights Council was kind in its judgment of Libya. In January, it produced a draft report on the country that reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise, when not delicately suggesting improvements.
Evidently, within the 47-nation council, some pots are loath to call kettles black, at least until events force their hand. Last week Libya was suspended from the body, and the report was shelved. Here are excerpts.
• Algeria noted the efforts of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya [people’s republic] to promote human rights, which reflected the country’s commitment to complying with Human Rights Council resolutions and cooperating with the international community.
• Qatar praised the legal framework for the protection of human rights and freedoms, including, inter alia, its criminal code and criminal procedure law, which provided legal guarantees for the implementation of those rights.
• The Syrian Arab Republic praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its serious commitment to and interaction with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.
• North Korea praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its achievements in the protection of human rights, especially in the field of economic and social rights, including income augmentation, social care, a free education system, increased delivery of health care services, care for people with disabilities, and efforts to empower women.
• Bahrain noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had adopted various policies aimed at improving human rights, in particular the right to education and the rights of persons with disabilities.
• Iraq commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for being a party to most international and regional human rights instruments, which took precedence over its national legislation.
• Saudi Arabia commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s achievements in its constitutional, legislative and institutional frameworks, which showed the importance that the country attached to human rights.
• Tunisia noted progress made by the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, such as the adoption of the Great Green Charter, which was very comprehensive and enshrined fundamental freedoms and rights as enshrined in international human rights instruments.
• The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela acknowledged the efforts of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to promote economic, social and cultural rights, especially those of children.
• Cuba commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for the progress made in the achievement of one of the millennium development goals, namely, universal primary education.
• Egypt commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for progress in building a comprehensive national human rights framework of institutions and in drafting legislation and supporting its human resources in that area.
• The Islamic Republic of Iran noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had implemented a number of international human rights instruments and had cooperated with relevant treaty bodies.
• Myanmar commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its economic and social progress, and recognized efforts in domestic legislation aimed at guaranteeing equal rights.
• The United States of America supported the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s increased engagement with the international community. It called on the country to comply with its human rights treaty obligations.
• The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya invited all nongovernmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders in the council to visit the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya so they could see in person the status of human rights on the ground.