World

UN bars Libya from human rights council

The United Nations General Assembly votes to suspend Libya's membership in its Human Rights Council in the latest international effort to isolate Moammar Gadhafi's government.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi pauses as he speaks at the UN General Assembly in New York in 2009. The General Assembly voted Tuesday to remove Libya from the Human Rights Council. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

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  • Libya is first country removed from council
  • Clinton warns of 'protracted civil war'

The United Nations General Assembly voted Tuesday to suspend Libya's membership in the Human Rights Council in the latest international effort to isolate Moammar Gadhafi's government for its violent attacks on civilian protesters.

The General Assembly voted by consensus on the council's recommendation to suspend Libya's rights of council membership for committing "gross and systematic violations of human rights." It also expressed "deep concern" about the human rights situation in Libya.

The vote does not permanently remove Libya from the council, but prevents it from participation until the General Assembly determines whether to restore the country to full status. The resolution was sponsored by Arab and African states.

The vote marked the first time a sitting member has been removed from the council.

In recent days, Libya has been hit by sanctions from the UN, the European Union, Canada and the United States

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Tuesday that Libya is at risk of collapsing into a "protracted civil war" amid increasingly violent clashes between government forces and those opposed to Gadhafi.

Protective military air cover in Libya is a possibility, Clinton told Congress, although she acknowledged there would be drawbacks.

No-fly zone discussed

Testifying before a separate panel Tuesday, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East said the military would have to take out Libyan air defences to establish a no-fly zone there.

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, said a no-fly zone would deter attempts to bomb Libyans as they protest against the government.

The U.S. already moved naval and air forces closer to Libya on Monday and said all options were open, including patrols of Libya's skies to protect its citizens from their ruler.

However, other nations spoke against talk of a no-fly zone — including Russia, which must give its consent as a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council.

Also on Monday, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said attacks on civilians by forces loyal to Gadhafi could result in the Libyan strongman facing charges of crimes against humanity. 

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he hoped to decide within days whether to formally open an investigation that could lead to charges.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC News

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