On October 16th, the United Nations, with at least tacit U.S. approval, elected the former terrorist state, Libya, to serve a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council. The prospect that Moammar Gaddafi, once the target of U.S. and U.N. sanctions, would participate in the U.N. Security Council decision-making process is part of the charade that relations between Libya and the U.S. are, in the words of Libyan diplomat Giadalla Ettalhi,
“back to normal.” In truth, the acceptance of oil-rich Libya on the international body charged with maintaining worldwide peace and security, reveals how the need for oil can cleanse even the most heinous of atrocities committed by terrorist states and nullify the suffering of its victims.
With oil and gas prices climbing, Libya’s plentiful oil and gas resources, have provided incentives for foreign investments. Energy firms worldwide have been anxious to do business with Libya and the governments of many European countries acted several years earlier to remove economic restrictions placed on Libya because of its past actions. U.S. companies have also pressured the U.S. government to normalize relations to stay apace with their European rivals. The U.S. desire to explore alternative sources for oil and gas may well have influenced the decision to normalize relations and paved the way for Libya to serve on the Security Council.
With Libya on the U.N. Security Council, the stage is truly set for a theater of the absurd. That’s because the Security Council is charged with maintaining international peace and security, which Libya has a well-known history of violating. Under the provisions of its charter, the Security Council can investigate any conflict that may lead to international friction and take a full spectrum of actions ranging from recommendations and political pressure to deploying peacekeeping forces or authorizing military action. The council may also choose to institute economic sanctions, sever diplomatic ties or refer cases to the International Criminal Court for arbitration.
Five permanent members sit on the Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – and have veto power over resolutions. Ten temporary members serve for two-year terms. The office of the president, responsible for setting the council’s agenda and overseeing crisis situations, rotates monthly among all of the member countries.
Thus, in an abundance of irony, it could potentially fall to Libya to oversee a world crisis, the very country which has been anti-American since 1969 when Gaddafi came to power and which was responsible in 1988 for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people from 21 countries, including 189 Americans. The Lockerbie bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack against the United States until the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
As a result, Libya until recently was under U.S. and U.N. sanctions that hindered its ability to develop its energy sector. In 2003, when Libya announced that it would dismantle its program for weapons of mass destruction, the United States and the European Union agreed to restore diplomatic relations. At the time, the Libyan government ratified a series of nominal, human rights treaties.
But these actions were instituted purely for political expediency and didn’t reflect the situation on the ground, according to an investigation by Amnesty International, a far left-leaning, non-governmental organization known for selective criticism of human rights violations. Amnesty International found that significant numbers of Libyans were being incarcerated for non-violent political activities and the death penalty was in place for cases of political dissent. Publicly, Colonel Gaddafi denounced capitol punishment and denied human rights violations but, according to Amnesty International, death sentences, unfair trials and the use of torture to extract confessions continued to be reported by Libya’s Internal Security Agency.
Two recent incidents cast doubt on Libya’s reformation and denunciation of terrorism. In September of 2006, following an apology by Pope Benedict XVI for quoting an obscure medieval text that criticized the teachings of Mohammed, Muammar Gaddafi’s son remarked, “If this person were really someone reasonable, he would not agree to remain at his post one minute, but would convert to Islam immediately.”
He added that Muslims “should not look for charity from the infidel…but should fight Islam’s enemies who attack the faith and the Prophet Mohammed.” Gaddafi himself stated that the Pope’s apologies meant nothing to Muslims.
Further, last December, a Libyan court sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and an Arab-Palestinian doctor to death by firing squad for allegedly infecting 400 children with HIV. Gaddafi charged that the health workers were agents of the CIA and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, and had held them in custody since 1999. The accused were tortured, beaten, raped and forced to confess. On Al Jazeera TV, Gaddafi’s son admitted that many of the children were already HIV-positive prior to the arrival of the Bulgarian team and confirmed that the health workers had been tortured with electric shocks and attack dogs, drugged and endured threats to their family members. Gaddafi demanded that the European Union compensate the families of each infected child at the rate of $13.3 million per child and called on then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair to initiate a full prisoner exchange deal that would have freed the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Ali Mohmed al Megrahi. Following the release of the prisoners and their “pardon” by the Bulgarian government, Gaddafi called on other Arab countries to sever diplomatic and economic ties with Bulgaria.
When it comes to their chartered responsibility to intervene in threats to international peace and security, the U.N Security Council has a sordid history that will doubtless be further abased with the addition of Libya. The Council’s list of failures include lack of effective intervention in the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur; its creation of a corrupt 30 year “interim” “peacekeeping” force in Lebanon that aids and abets the Islamic paramilitary Hizbollah; its inability to condemn the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy forces in Burma; and its impotence in dealing with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s support for state sponsors of terrorism, nuclear enrichment program and calls to destroy a democratic member state; as well as a multitude of other failures too numerous to mention.
All are clear evidence that the so-called “Security” Council has been an inept body of the United Nations for decades. The recent election of Libya can only thrust the Council further into the depths of incompetence, rendering worthless any of the commitments set forth in its charter.