January 28, 2003
LIBYA'S 'LAUGHABLE' UNHRC CHAIRMANSHIP TERMED
Libya's "preposterous" victory is "surreal,
insulting...and politically obscene."
praised Libya's selection as "a setback for U.S. interference" in the
rest of the world.
Africa's "dubious third world solidarity" and Europe's
"mealy-mouthed abstention" in the UNHRC vote drew criticism.
Leftist papers, touting the UN's role on Iraq, feared the vote will
affect the UN's "credibility."
'The appointment is a mistake'-- European and Canadian dailies were nonplused
that "Libya's despicable human-rights record was no barrier" to its
selection as chair of the UN Human Rights Commission. Italy's centrist La Stampa expressed
horror at Qaddafi "in the role of human rights sheriff." The liberal Toronto Star joined many
in blasting Libya's "long record of gross human rights
violations." Paris's left-of-center
Le Monde found the election of such an "opaque regime founded on
secrecy and intimidation...laughable."
Some hail a 'fresh slap' to the U.S.-- Like many developing country outlets, Tunisia's
independent Le Temps called U.S. protests "incongruous" and said
that on human rights the "U.S. is far from a model." Burkina Faso's independent Ouagadougou-based
Le Pays cited how "Washington maltreats prisoners in
Guantanamo" to assert that "human rights are not
universal." Vietnam's official Lao
Dong added that "African countries...do not agree with the U.S.
stance" on human rights. Gambia
News & Report concluded, "Libya was seen as the needed antidote to
Western human rights skidding" that is "commonplace" in the
current war against terror.
'Political considerations' gained the upper hand in the UNHRC
vote-- African "solidarity
with Libya" and the "EU's lack of diplomatic courage" both
received criticism. Belgium's
left-of-center Le Soir accused African countries of deciding "the
best way to control a fox was to set it to mind the geese," while Canada's
leading Globe & Mail accused Libya of using "petrodollars"
to buy support. Many papers criticized
Western European democracies for getting "lost in diplomatic
maneuvers" and "cowardly" failing to oppose Tripoli's
The UN has 'really and thoroughly shot itself in the foot'-- Many dailies agreed that Libya's victory
"strips the UN of strength and moral seriousness" just when it
"has been seriously challenged by the Iraqi crisis." France's Le Monde predicted that
"White House hawks will jump on this inglorious episode," and
Poland's leftist Trybuna warned the UNHRC "will become a
mockery." Portugal's centrist Expresso
agreed that the "UN comes out very badly wounded by this gigantic
outrage." Canadian papers concluded
the UN "cannot have any credibility in moderating disputes among
nations" after it allowed the UNHRC to cede "leadership to one of the
planet's worst rights abusers."
This analysis is based on 29 reports from 16 countries over 18-27
January 2003. Editorial excerpts from
each country are listed from the most recent date.
"Outrage To Human Rights"
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (1/22): "If the subject weren’t so serious we
would die laughing. This is an outrageous affront to two major achievements of
the 20th century: the UN and human rights....
Just when so many nations, including France, are urging the U.S. to
abide by the UN and its laws...there is something surreal and insulting to
common sense and something politically obscene in a gesture that detracts from
the legitimacy of a UN symbol.”
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (1/22): "Libya’s regime is probably behind one
of the most deadly terrorist attacks of the 80’s--PANAM flight 103.... It is an opaque regime founded on secrecy and
intimidation.... This regime has just
been awarded the presidency of the UNHR Commission. Libya’s nomination in Durban was bad
enough.... The subject would be
laughable if it weren’t so serious and loaded with consequences. This is a choice that will affect the
credibility of the UN in public opinion just when the organization is called on
to play a major role in the Iraqi crisis.
The election comes just when many nations, including France, are
promoting the idea that the UN alone has the moral and legal authority to
approve a war against Iraq. It is easy
to imagine how quickly the White House hawks will jump on this inglorious
episode to discredit the UN.”
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger noted in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (1/21): “We do not know
what is more annoying: the fact that Libya of all nations has been elected the
chairman of the UNHRC or the fact that the European nations abstained from
voting--out of fear that the African group of nations could take 'revenge’ in
case of a negative vote? It is nothing
new that nations have always been members of this Commission that ignored human
rights as ‘trinkets’ or as an instrument of Western interference.... But the fact that one of the worst nations
has now been elected chairman can hardly be exceeded in its frivolity. And the Europeans cowardly ducked to for
cover. We still remember the malicious
glee when the U.S. was voted out of this Commission in 2001. This was considered a kind of punishment for
President Bush’s unilateral moves, but that step could hardly be celebrated as
a triumph for human rights. The fact
that Libya was now elected is simply a perversion. The African states which were behind it...are
now practicing the most dubious kind of Third World solidarity.”
“Libya As Guardian Of Human Rights”
Frank Herold opined in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(1/21): “If we seek a country that has
the moral and political authority to head the UN Human Rights Commission,
nobody would ever think of Libya. But
the UN does not function this way. It
reflects a situation, not as it should be, but as it is. And not only Libya’s attitude towards human
rights is extremely questionable but also the role of a number of members,
among them the United States.... The
African nations have now used their right to make suggestions and made Libya’s
representative the head of the Commission....
The view that states can buy positions in the United Nations--or the
view that at least a plausible suspicion exists that the system functions that
way--is disastrous. The same is true for
the fact that states suddenly turn into guardians of human rights, even though
they do not give a damn about them at home.
But this mistake cannot be repaired in the current UN system. That is why it is all the more important that
independent NGOs that fight for the implementation of human rights do not let
"Political Considerations Have
Bernd Pickert wrote in Berlin's center-leftist Die
Tageszeitung (1/21): "These
days, human rights are not in a good state.
In the battle over the chairmanship of the UN Human Rights Commission in
Geneva, once again political considerations gained the upper hand. The goal of pushing through a global human
rights policy got the poor end of the deal.
That is not surprising in such a heterogeneous body to which belong, in
addition to Libya, the United States and 47 other countries, also such
illustrious defenders of the cause as China, Russia, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia.... Hence the Commission observes UN rules:
provided with the right to make proposals, the African regional group proposed
Libya for the chairmanship. The United
States rejected that and demanded a vote in which it was defeated. The Libyan government wants to shed its old
pariah status and demonstrate its political weight in Africa. The United States wants to prevent that. All of which has nothing to do with human
rights.... These bodies do not gain
thereby any striking power. Whoever
himself violates human rights cannot credibly accuse others. But come now: at a time when there is open
discussion in the United States about the use of torture, and the West
celebrates friendship with Russia despite mass killings in Chechnya, Libya also
can head the Human Rights Commission.
That, one might want to sigh, also no longer matters."
ITALY: "The Humane
Massimo Gramellini commented in Turin's centrist, influential La
Stampa (1/21): "Europe's
mealy-mouthed abstention (they are all laughing behind our backs, [EU
Commission President Romano] Prodi says, and from now on they will be laughing
in our faces too) has handed Qadhdhafi's Libya the chair of the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights. It will, in
other words, have the job of investigating the same crimes it itself commits on
its own home ground.... Al-Qadhdhafi in
the role of human rights sheriff is a slap in the face of history.... Eurocowards aside, Libya has won because most
of the countries that voted for it are in the same boat on human rights, and
the boat it is in is a leaky one. The
United Nations is a wonderful thing, but if it wants to be taken seriously, it
should demand that its commissioners meet at least the minimum requisites in
terms of democracy that they claim they want to defend everywhere, provided
that means elsewhere."
"The UN's Role And Its Credibility"
Gianni Riotta wrote in leading, centrist Corriere della Serra
(1/20): "The paradox of the moment
sees the United Nations, with its scant real power, having extraordinary
prestige in the world, while the United States, with its unparalleled military
force, suffers from a case of scant moral legitimacy.... This is why the UN decision, following
suggestions by the African countries, to promote the candidacy of Colonel
Muhammar Qadhafi's Libya as "chairman" of the human rights
commission, a body tasked with defending the freedom to say whatever one wants,
to vote as one pleases, and to exercise whatever religious and political faith
is so disturbing.... If opposition by
the United States fails to assert itself, starting today, the United Nations
will install one of Qadhafi's party bigwigs as civil rights arbiter. What, then, will be the commission's
credibility?.... Europe thinks it can
abstain, worried as it is about diplomacy and its business dealings with
Tripoli, whereas the Americans are doing all they can to hold the United
Nations in check. How is it possible to
oppose US President George W. Bush's war in the name of international rights
and then go ahead and trust a dictator believed to have masterminded the
Lockerbie tragedy, one who sponsors terrorism and who denies his citizens every
basic freedom?.... However, as a
champion of human rights Qadhafi is only a scarecrow, one who strips the United
Nations of strength and moral seriousness at the very time it has to express
itself on an especially difficult war."
Colette Braeckman observed in left-of-center Le Soir
(1/21): "Although Gadhafi has tried
since 1998 to become a credible interlocutor again by expelling the Abu Nidal
group, by giving information on the IRA to British authorities, by launching an
international arrest warrant against Usama bin Laden even before the attacks
against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and by providing information
on sleeping Islamic terrorist cells in Europe in Africa, Libya remains the
country that organized the terrible bombing of the Pan Am Flight 103 over
Lockerbie as well as a country where human rights are constantly violated:
political prisoners, use of torture, no freedom of expression, and refusal to
allow human rights NGOs. Besides,
although Tripoli signed twelve anti-terrorist conventions, it still has not ratified
the convention banning chemical weapons.
By electing Libya at the head of the UN Human Rights Commission, in
addition to challenging the Americans, African countries perhaps considered
that the best way to control a fox was to set it to mind the geese.”
Copenhagen-based centrist Politikien opined (1/22): "If an international organization is
looking for a way to reduce its own significance and moral status.... It is called the United Nations Human Rights
Commission, which, with Monday's [20 January] decision to make Libya its new
chairman, has really and thoroughly shot itself in the foot. Because you could not hope to find a less
qualified champion of human rights than Libya.... This country is now the chairman of the UN
Human Rights Commission and the fact that this could have happened underscores
the problems in both the UN's decision-making process and the EU's lack of
diplomatic courage.... That Libya has
been elected is due namely to a combination of the fact that it is Africa's
'turn' to occupy the post and that Libya has used some of its considerable oil
money to buy itself a leading role among African countries. The fact that poor countries' votes can be
bought is regrettable and yet can be fully understood.... The United States, however, did the only
right thing: for the first time ever, it insisted on a vote on the chairman's
post and, together with Canada and Guatemala, they voted against it. Well done, and something the many Europeans,
who always talk disparagingly about the US's cynical power policy and
indifference toward human rights, ought to do a bit of thinking
POLAND: “Kaddafi’s Law”
Robert Soltyk wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (1/20): “The officials in Kaddafi’s regime are really
the best to decide what are and are not human rights violations--they have
enormous experience in this area. They have already begun to teach a lesson to
the United States which is lamenting under the tyranny of George W. Bush.
Kidding aside, we have crossed the limit of absurdity. What is the most painful
is that Western European democracies got lost in diplomatic maneuvers. Do they
really think so little of values such as truth, justice, the rule of law,
protection of the weak and the oppressed, which should be so dear to every
democrat, be it America or Europe? Without them, international relations become
a brutal game of interests in which the strongest wins. In a world like this,
the UN is just a dummy whose agencies can he headed not only by Libya, but also
by Cuba, Iraq, North Korea.”
“Libya To Safeguard Law”
Krystyna Szelestowska opined in leftist Trybuna
(1/21): "Now that Libya is to
assess respective countries for human rights abuses, perhaps it will try to
improve its image with this regard, and it will embark on the road of the rule
of law.... Rumor has it that Colonel
Kaddafi will announce amnesty for political prisoners and start political
reforms to mark Libya’s chairmanship. May it be so. Otherwise, the UN [Human
Rights] Commission will become a mockery and will put into question the very
sense of its existence.”
Influential moderate-left Público journalist Rui Baptista
noted (1/27): “The election of Libya to
head the United Nations Human Rights Commission is grotesque, and couldn’t have
occurred at a worse time. It discredits
the UN, removes arguments of those who think that a war against Iraq should
only occur with the express approval of the United Nations, and reveals the cynicism
of some European countries."
Princeton-based Amb. José Cutileiro, former Secretary-General of
the Western European Union, commented in top-circulation centrist weekly Expresso
(1/25): "This week, the [UNHR]
Commission (that is, the member governments, including seven Europeans) hit
bottom.... The United Nations comes out
very badly wounded by this gigantic outrage, which undoes a great part of Kofi
Annan's work to make the organization sensible, effective and respected. At a time when Europeans are trying to
convince the U.S. to submit itself to the Security Council's decisions,
abstaining from voting 'to avoid offending Africa' demonstrates a frightening
shortsightedness. And then they wonder why."
"Libya, Iraq And European Hypocrisy"
Influential moderate-left Público Editor Teresa de Sousa
wrote (1/24): "[In the voting on
Libya’s candidacy to head the UNHCR], Europe--in a habitual exercise of
hypocrisy--preferred not to distinguish farce from tragedy, and to apply its
discreet but always present ‘realpolitik’.
It counted heads and abstained.
Why stir up enmity among African dictators for so little? The ‘little’ in this case seems to be the
credibility of the UN. The behavior of
Europe becomes more insupportable when Europe appears at first glance to be
engaged in a fight over principle against an extemporaneous and unjustified
attack on Iraq.... The major risk that
this attitude creates is that of increasing confusion in public opinion even
more, confusing the threats and confusing the enemy. Which is not America, however wrong its
strategy might be, but certainly the countries that, like Iraq, make their
respective peoples ‘human shields’ for their own demented ambitions, and are
the true threats to international security and stability. Like Libya, regarding which Europe is
inclined to look the other way. In
exchange for what?"
"Libya And World Government"
Influential moderate-left Público Editor-in-Chief José
Manuel Fernandes opined (1/23): "An
organization that permits the election of Libya to [preside over the UNCHR] is
very far, too far, from seeming like any sort of 'global government' under
whose protective umbrella the peaceful peoples of the entire world could
gather. When it's going to be a mandate
for Khaddafi to keep watch over respect for human rights on a planetary scale,
then it's time to say that I'd rather live on another planet. So let's not have any illusions. The United Nations is still not, nor will it
soon be, anything looking like a World Government under which we would want to
live. It is useful, necessary and
sometimes indispensable to get international agreements and avoid armed
conflicts. But if the international law
that rules it allows for elections like that of Libya, then maybe we ought to
stop worshiping, like some sacrosanct Buddha, this 'international law' covered
by the United Nations."
EGYPT: "Winning The
Pro-opposition Al-Ahrar editorialized (1/21): "Libya has won the chairmanship of the
U.N. Human Rights Commission.... This is
'a fresh slap on the U.S.’' face.'"
"Hailing An Election"
Chief Editor Ahmad al-Huni wrote in London-based
Arab nationalist Arabic-language Al-Arab al-Alamiyah (1/21): "Libya's election as president of the UN
Human Rights Commission is a 'victory' for Libya and...a setback for U.S.
interference in the Arab world."
TUNISIA: "The Odd And
Deputy Editor-in-Chief Hajer Jeridi declared in independent
French-language Le Temps (1/22):
"The American opposition to the election of Libya to chair this
year's session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva--even if it did
not make a change--is quite rightly, incongruous.... When Washington persists in trying to launch
a military aggression against Iraq relying on a heavy military artillery, ignoring
the voices of peace and the injunctions of its allies, we wonder what kind of
protection does this country attribute to defend human rights? When this same
country supports a bloody Israeli government guilty of revolting massacres
perpetrated against the Palestinian people, we ask ourselves questions on the
true definition that the U.S. gives to this concept?....The U.S. is far from
being a model."
Lu Pho An opined in official Vietnam General Confederation of
Labor-run Lao Dong (1/19):
"The U.S. and the West have failed in their efforts to prevent
Libya from being elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights.... That African countries unanimously nominated
Libya is not simply because in recent years Libya has significantly been more
responsible for and contributed to the process to unite Africa, but also
because they do not agree with the U.S. stance and the way it behaved as a
member of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
To the U.S., the election of Libya is really a bitter fruit. Last year, the U.S. was dismissed from the
commission and currently is just an observer."
Ouagadougou-based pro-opposition French-language Le Pays
editorialized (1/23): "Africa has
shown solidarity with Libya by electing her to the chair of the UN human rights
commission.... It would not be proper to
marginalize Libya. On the contrary, her
election will make her more responsible in human rights issues.... When Washington maltreats prisoners in
Guantanamo or when Israel shoots at Palestinian children like game, it were as
though human rights are not universal....
In conclusion, we congratulate African countries for their unity in action."
GAMBIA: "Libya To Head
H/Rights Commission Good Or Bad Move?"
The Banjul-based English-language weekly Gambia News and Report
Magazine opined (1/22): "The
choice of Libya by African countries to head the UN Human rights commission has
attracted the ire of the United States and other human rights groups that feel
that Tripoli's human rights records is far from being without reproach. Now viewing this choice from the Gambian
shores, we first tried to understand the reason that led South Africa to give
way to Tripoli when her chances were palpable. We also looked at the massive
Africa vote for Libya. South Africa is
enjoying very good relations with the West and sitting on the chair of the said
commission would have been likely to create misunderstanding between her and
these close allies.... Libya was seen as
the needed antidote to Western Human rights skidding that has now become
commonplace in the name of war against terror.
The choice of Libya to head UN Human Rights commission should be seen in
that light, although some would argue that most African countries are one way
or the other indebted to Tripoli.... But
there's another dimension to the Tripoli's choice. Libya is viewed by many
countries as a haven of terrorism and a violator of human rights. Now for some
it makes sense to have such a violator head the commission. This school of
thought is strengthened by an African adage that says that a baby is safe if
given for keeping to a community's cannibal.
In other words, by being at the helm of the UN human rights body,
Tripoli is forced to uphold these principles internally and with more vigour
and resolution for their observance and respect among big and small nations.
SOUTH AFRICA: "Cheap
Shot At U.S. Harms Africa's People"
Peter Fabricius wrote in the independent Pretoria News
(1/24): "Geo-strategic security
concerns are increasingly overriding the concerns about democracy and human
rights which gained importance in what may unfortunately come to be seen as a
brief inter-regnum period between two wars.
America's soft-pedalling on the undemocratic practices of Pakistan, its
essential ally in the fight against the Taliban, is the obvious example. A lesser-known case is the tiny Central
African state of Equatorial Guinea where President Teodoro Obiang Nguema was
re-elected with over 97% of the vote on December 15. The US, while noting irregularities, gave it
a pass mark. It is perhaps coincidental
that the country is gushing in oil and that Nguema is a fervent US ally in the
war against international terrorists....
There are also signs that Africa may become a pawn in the new game, as
it was in the old, if it does not watch out.
This week the UNHCR elected Libya as its new chairman, despite strong
opposition from the US because of Libya's own dismal human rights record. Africa probably chose Libya deliberately to
stick it to America. It is all too easy
for African leaders to tag along with the prevailing anti-Americanism and
anti-Anglo-Saxonism, especially those who have felt the lash of US
righteousness about their bad behaviour.
They will point to America's own human rights transgressions in the
treatment of Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the oily hypocrisy of
overlooking Nguema's election rigging and alleged plundering of his country's
oil. The price of this cheap shot at the
US has been to confirm the world's worst stereotypes about Africa as a
continent that does not take human rights seriously."
"Africa's Error Of Judgment"
The liberal Star commented (1/23): "Many African leaders often rightly
accuse the international community of sidelining their continent and treating
it with disdain.... But when it is
Africa's time to shine, to display the best it has, it is found wanting. Of all the countries on the continent, its
leaders found Libya to be the best continental ambassador for human
rights... Libya's human rights track
record is appalling.... We believe the
appointment is a mistake; it undermines the continent's effort to change world
perception about Africa.... Africa under
renaissance leaders such as...Mbeki and...Obasanjo, has a unique opportunity to
give quality leadership to a world that has seen the corruption of
morality. This can be done only if
African leaders can be brutally honest with each other, calling each other to
order when needed. They should be sincere about this. They should not do it to try to please the
West to secure donor funds, but because it is the right thing to do. Their
people certainly deserve good governance."
BRAZIL: "A Terrible
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (1/23): "Libya's election to the UNHRC's
chairmanship is grotesque. Colonel Qadhafi's regime is nothing but a military
dictatorship where human rights are not respected at all.... To place a nation with such a record at the
head of the UNHRC is a terrible joke....
Libya's candidacy was the result of Third World nations' votes. Some of
them such as Cuba, Algeria and Sudan have a human rights record similar to that
of Libya.... It is known that the three
nations courageous enough to vote against Libya were the U.S., Canada and
Guatemala. The seven EU members of the UNHRC shamefully abstained from voting.
Brazil either did the same or supported the farce.... The damage caused to the UN's image is
significant, especially at a moment when the organization has been seriously
challenged by the Iraqi crisis. The UNHRC's members could not have chosen a
worse moment to test the UN's credibility."
CANADA: “Gadhafi's Prize”
The leading Globe and Mail opined (1/21): “Inside the United Nations, where votes are
routinely treated as commodities to be traded for past or future favours,
Libya's despicable human-rights record was no barrier to its nomination. The
chairmanship of the commission rotates annually among the world's five regional
blocs. A lot of horse-trading might go on, but the eventual choice is normally
approved by acclamation. This year, it's the turn of the Africans; and Libya,
which has been extremely generous in distributing its petrodollars throughout
the continent, was their only candidate. It should be noted that the commission
is not a working agency and has no permanent staff.... Having a voice on the commission can help
deflect...probes and water down or block resolutions condemning particular
behaviour. If it really wanted these resolutions to have any meaning, the UN
would do well to demand minimum qualifications for the chairmanship. A
democratic government that allows free speech and other basic rights would be a
"Fox In Henhouse"
The tabloid Calgary Sun editorialized (1/21): "The UN suffered yet another blow to its
credibility yesterday when Libya was elected to chair its Human Rights
Commission. The timing of this absurdity
couldn't be worse for the beleaguered UN.
There are at least three hotspots around the world crying out for a
diplomatic voice that commands some respect: Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and sabre-rattling North Korea, which pulled out of the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty last week. But
it is Africa's turn to occupy the human-rights chair and that continent's
nominee is Libya--presided over by none other than the wacky and depraved
dictator, Col. Moammar Gadhafi. This
tyrant is anything but a guardian of human rights. Political opponents in Libya have been killed
and tortured. The Pan Am plane blasted
out of the sky by a bomb in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, is among the
terrorist bombings in which Libya has been implicated.... The vote represents yet another serious
fracture in the credibility of the UN....
Given the shame Libya's appointment brings to the UN, it's time the
international body abandoned appointments based on geography. Merit alone should be the basis of such
decisions, even if it means one country is appointed more than once. The UN cannot have any credibility in
moderating disputes among nations when it puts a fox in charge of the henhouse
where the human rights issues of the world are aired and debated."
"Rights Body's Credibility Hurt"
The conservative Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
declared (1/21): "When it has
become more important than ever for the United Nations to shore up its
credibility to deal with pressing global issues, the election of Libya to head
the UN human rights commission is a nasty setback.... Canada justifiably had joined the U.S.
opposition to having Al-Hajjaji lead an agency whose goals mean virtually
nothing to the country she represents....
17 western European countries abstained rather than offend the African
Union by rejecting an odious nomination widely viewed with dismay by human
rights groups. The Europeans may have
acted upon a misguided notion about the value of not alienating Africa or
hampering the work of the commission, but their decision not to vote on their
principles harms the watchdog agency and the UN itself. There are suggestions that Libya secured the
nomination as a quid pro quo for its notorious Moammar Gadhafi agreeing to
finance the newly created African Union....
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have plenty of reasons why
a Libyan shouldn't head the UN agency. They point to abduction and
assassination of political opponents by Libyan authorities and the mistreatment
and torture of prisoners. AI investigators haven't been able to secure permission
to visit Tripoli, even though Libya promised after Al-Hajjaji's nomination that
it has improved its conduct and would facilitate inspections.... Instead, as happened with the UN's touted
anti-racism conference in Durban that turned out to be a despicable orgy of
anti-Semitism, its human rights commission is losing all credibility by ceding
leadership to one of the planet's worst rights abusers."
The liberal Toronto Star noted (1/21): "Thumbs Down...to the United Nations,
for electing a Libyan diplomat to head the United Nations Human Rights
Commission despite Libya's long record of gross human rights violations. This
farce ranks right up there with putting Syria on the Security Council"
"Libya Has No Place In Human Rights Body"
The nationalist, liberal Montreal-based Gazette declared
(1/18): "This is no joke. Has the
United Nations no shame? It's bad enough that Libya has a seat on the
commission; it's preposterous that it should have the chair.... Hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners
of conscience are rotting behind bars in Libyan jails, that freedom of
expression is severely limited and that forming political parties and
criticizing the government are illegal....
Canada should do everything it can to stop Libya from getting the job.
The UN has enough credibility problems as it is without appointing the fox to
guard the henhouse. But our efforts will
probably be of little avail. Barring a major diplomatic coup, Libya seems
assured of its undeserved honour, thanks to the UN's arcane rules. It's
Africa's turn to pick the commission chair, and the continent's leadership
appears to have lined up behind Gadhafi....
For their own sake and the sake of the UN, African leaders should drop their
support for Libya."