Statement ● Foreign Affairs
For Immediate Release: 
February 11, 2003
Contact Info: 

Absurd, Grotesque, Tragic

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my good friends from Illinois and California, Chairman Hyde and ranking member Lantos, for bringing this very important resolution to the house floor. It's a moral imperative, and a matter of principle, that this house speak as one today.

The selection on January 20th of Libya, a gross violator of human rights and state sponsor of terrorism, to chair the United Nations commission on human rights is an affront to basic decency. And it demeans the United Nations itself.

Absurd. Grotesque. Tragic. Those are just a few of the words that have been used to describe Libya's election to this post.

Our state department includes Libya on its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Amnesty international has documented Libya's extrajudicial execution of government opponents, and torture of political detainees.

Human rights watch has called Libya's human rights record over the last three decades "appalling."

Imagine. The commission on human rights - which claims to stand for free elections, free expression and fair trials - will now be chaired by a nation that has not had a free election since Colonel Qaddafi seized power in 1969.

Imagine. The commission on human rights will now be chaired by a nation that itself refuses to admit U.N. Human rights investigators.

Imagine. The commission on human rights will now be chaired by a nation that was responsible for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people . . . For the 1986 bombing of the La Belle disco in Berlin that killed two U.S. Servicemen . . . And for the 1989 bombing of Uta flight 772 over Niger.

The selection of Libya to head the commission on human rights undermines the credibility, integrity and relevance of the United Nations.

We must not countenance the rationalization of dangerous, illegal and destabilizing behavior by criminals and nations whose rogue status endangers international security and stability.

The only bright spot in this otherwise outrageously dismal act is that it may spur the international community to closely scrutinize Libya's human rights record and force serious thinking about reforming the commission.

I urge our government to work to accomplish both of those ends.

And I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution.