UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Friday to reinstate Libya's membership on the Human Rights Council after its new government pledged before the world body to defend human rights and establish the rule of law.
The General Assembly suspended Libya from the U.N.'s top human rights body on March 1 as part of the international effort to halt Moammar Gadhafi's violent crackdown on protesters. It accused Gadhafi's regime of committing "gross and systematic violations of human rights."
With Gadhafi's death and a new interim Libyan government in place, the assembly adopted a resolution by a vote of 123-4 with six abstentions to restore Libya's rights on the council. The four countries voting "no" were Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Before the vote, Libya's deputy U.N. ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told the 193-member world body that the "new Libya" deserved to return to full membership on the Geneva-based council after Gadhafi's 42-year rule which saw massive violations of human rights.
He stressed the commitment of the National Transitional Council and all Libyan authorities "to respect and adhere to all the obligations of Libya in the field of human rights and ... pay great attention to establish rule of law."
Libya's suspension was the first from the 47-member Human Rights Council since it was formed in 2006. Based in Geneva, the council is charged with strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.
Reflecting the views of the resolution's opponents, Venezuela's U.N. Ambassador Jorge Valero accused NATO of violating Security Council resolutions aimed at protecting civilians by conducting a bombing campaign and "massacring" thousands of civilians, and by providing military assistance and support to Gadhafi's opponents.
The ouster of Gadhafi's regime would have been impossible without the involvement of NATO, which maintains its 7-month air campaign was consistent with the Security Council's resolution and aimed solely at protecting civilians.
Several opponents of the resolution also criticized the circumstances surrounding Gadhafi's Oct. 20 death after he tried to escape from his hometown, Sirte, in a convoy that was struck by NATO on a highway on the outskirts. Gadhafi suffered some injuries and tried to flee on foot but was captured, beaten by a mob, and died later that day in mysterious circumstances, prompting international demands that Libya's new leaders investigate his death.
Dabbashi told the General Assembly that "the new Libyan authorities understand and agree that some violations did take place during the confrontation between the revolutionary forces and the forces of the tyrant following the arrest of Gadhafi."
"This will not be overlooked," he said. "However, these are isolated, individual incidents which are being carefully investigated in order to realize justice, the rule of law and to make sure that they are not repeated."
Dabbashi said Libya wanted to assure all countries "that no violations of human rights will take place on Libyan territory in the future — and if it happens, its perpetrators can never get away with it."