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January 20, 2003

Bush Right, UN Wrong

For once, the Bush administration is absolutely right and the United Nations has made an ass of itself. In a vote of 33 yes against 3 no votes (with 17 abstentions), the member nations of UN Human Rights Commission has voted to make the human rights violating Libya the rotating leader of the Commission.

The Bush administration protested and forced the vote. Not that they can be taken too seriously on human rights themselves (given their shady support for Israel, Pakistan and other allies with poor human rights records) but making Libya head of the Commission is a farce.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Libya's human rights record "appalling."

HRW said that Gadaffi and Libyan government officials have been involved in the abduction and assassination of political opponents, torture and serious miscarriages of justice.

Unionists globally see Libya as one of the worst violators of labor rights, where in the view of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), representing 120 million workers globally, "basic trade union rights are flatly denied."
Independent trade unions are banned. The government views them as “unnecessary intermediaries between the revolution and the working forces” . Workers may join the General Federation of Producers/Workers (GUP/N) which is controlled by the government and administered by the “People’s Committees”. Foreign workers may not join the GUP/N.

The right to strike is not recognised. The notion of collective bargaining exists in law but is undermined by the fact that the government must approve all collective agreements to ensure that they are in line with the nation’s economic interests.

How can such a nation be elected to a commission to evaluate and promote human rights globally? A sad and stupid day for the United Nations, all made even more sad by it coming on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Posted by Nathan at January 20, 2003 04:14 PM

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