On March 1, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly suspended Libya's membership on the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Following the vote, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice spoke to members of the press. Ambassador Rice said:
"We had, just, a historic session of the General Assembly when all members unanimously agreed to the suspension of Libya's membership from the Human Rights Council. This is the first time that either the Human Rights Council or its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, have suspended any member state for gross violations of human rights. And we think this is an important step forward in enhancing the credibility of the Human Rights Council, whose credibility on these issues has often, quite legitimately, been called into question. Today, the General Assembly exercised its authority to suspend a member state for gross violations of human rights. In our view, this is progress, as was last Friday's special session in Geneva for the Human Rights Council, and we hope its progress will be sustained."
When asked about the role many Arab countries took in this resolution, Ambassador Rice said, "I think it's very significant and an important development. And similarly the Africa Group, which also claims Libya as a member, took strong leadership and brought this effort both to Geneva and to New York. And so, while we're proud to have co-sponsored it, we certainly applaud their leadership."
In response to the UN General Assembly's decision, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released this statement:
"The United States applauds the move by the UN General Assembly to suspend Libya's membership rights in the Human Rights Council in Geneva. We continue to demand an immediate halt to the violence perpetrated by the Qadhafi government against its own citizens. The General Assembly today has made it clear that governments that turn their guns on their own people have no place on the Human Rights Council.
"Today's historic action is the first time that any country serving on the Human Rights Council, or the Commission before it, has ever had its membership suspended. The international community is speaking with one voice and our message is unmistakable: these violations of universal rights are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
"Two years ago, the United States announced that we would seek to join the Human Rights Council with a commitment to reform the Council from within. The actions the Council has taken over the last few days, setting the stage for today's decision, is the latest example that our engagement is paying dividends, even as we keep pressing for further reforms.
"The United States will continue to work with the international community on additional steps to hold the Qadhafi government accountable, provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, and support the Libyan people as they pursue a transition to democracy."Related Content: Ambassador Rice Delivers Remarks on Resolution 1970 -- Libya Sanctions