UN Human Rights Council to Hold Special Session on Libya

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–23 February 2011 – The United Nations Human Rights Council announced today that it will hold a special session on Friday to discuss the situation in Libya, as calls continue to mount for an end to the use of force against protesters and a peaceful resolution of the crisis in the North African nation.

Friday’s meeting comes at the request of nearly 50 States, both members and non-members of the Geneva-based body. It will be the first time that a member of the Council is the subject of a special session.

The last special session held by the 47-member Council was in December 2010, when it discussed the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire amid the post-election crisis.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, have added their voices to the chorus of UN officials speaking out against the violence in Libya.

They expressed their alarm at the reports of mass violence coming from Libya, which include the reported use of military planes to attack protesters, the alleged involvement of foreign mercenaries in killing the protesters, and the arbitrary arrests of individuals including lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists. At least 300 people have reportedly been killed so far.

“Widespread and systematic attacks against civilian populations by military forces, mercenaries, and aircraft are egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” they said in a joint statement issued late Tuesday.

“If the reported nature and scale of such attacks are confirmed, they may well constitute crimes against humanity, for which national authorities should be held accountable.”

The Security Council yesterday called for an immediate end to the violence in Libya and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population, including through national dialogue.

It also called on the Government to meet its responsibility to protect its population, act with restraint, respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and allow immediate access for human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies.

Top officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay and the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, have condemned the violence against protesters and urged an immediate end to the use of force by the Libyan authorities.