Libya Review Session Cancelled at the Human Rights Council

By coincidence, the Libyan government’s “Universal Periodic Review” of its human rights record was scheduled for this week in Geneva. The UPR, as it is known, is the mechanism by which the council reviews every UN member states’ human rights record. The state submits a report of its own human rights record, and over the course of hearing, members of the human rights council comment on that report, offering praise, criticisms and suggestions.  (You can read my explanation of how this is a useful mechanism for promoting human rights in countries that are on the margins, but less so for countries like Iran and North Korea that are totally rejectionist).

In any case, Libya’s time in front of the council was scheduled for this week. But that doesn’t really make sense given the tumultuous situation there, and the fact that its diplomatic corps in Geneva has jumped ship.

The US is particularly pleased that the Libya session has been cancelled. Here’s remarks from US Ambassador to the Human Rights Council Eileen Donahoe:

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.

Although UPR reports are primarily a record of the proceedings of a UPR review session, they also reflect the responses of the state under review to the many recommendations made during the UPR session.  While some countries may have praised Libya’s human rights record, other countries, including the United States, were highly critical. It is important to have a meaningful response to such criticisms.

The United States remains appalled by the situation in Libya and demands an immediate halt to the violence perpetrated by the Qadhafi government against its own citizens. We will continue to work with the international community on additional steps to hold the Qadhafi government accountable, provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, and support the Libyan people as they pursue a transition to democracy.