In an international arena that is always quick to criticize Israel and slow — to put it charitably — to find fault with her adversaries, the outcry against the violent repression of protestors seeking an end to the regime of Libyan strongman Muammar Kadaffi has been a welcome development.
In a unanimous response to Kadaffi’s wanton violence against his own people, the United Nations Security Council this week imposed an arms embargo and travel ban and began the process of freezing Libyan assets. The Security Council also referred the issue of Libya’s repression of dissent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation, a move that could result in war crimes charges against members of the regime.
The European Union also froze Libyan assets, including those of Kadaffi and his family, and implemented an arms embargo.
The UN General Assembly was poised at midweek to kick Libya off the UN Human Rights Council, a long overdue move – but one that hardly addresses the longstanding shanda that Libya, a serial human rights abuser, was on the council in the first place. And there were also reports that the Council, known mostly for its fanatic bias against Israel, was going ahead with plans to approve a report praising the Libyan tyrant's human rights record.
Still, it is important to acknowledge glimmers of progress in an international community that has for so long blithely ignored horrific human rights abuses across the Arab and Muslim worlds while castigating Israel. There's a long, long way to go, but there may be reason to hope that international bodies may someday become genuine mechanisms for ending conflicts and supporting human rights, and not just stages for farcical attacks on Israel as the sole violator of human rights.
The Obama administration has signaled its strong belief that Kadaffi must go, and appears determined to prevent further massacres as he clings to power. This week the Treasury Department froze over $30 billion worth in Libyan assets. The administration has signaled that military action, including imposition of a no-fly zone, is being discussed.
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