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Archive for March 1st, 2011

Libya and The UN Human Rights Council

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on March 1, 2011

With the world no longer able to avert its eyes from the mass bloodshed in Libya, and as Moammar Gadhafi’s deadly degradation of his people reaches a new peak, there is more than enough blame to go around.

Primary responsibility certainly goes to Gadhafi and his regime, but the international community that for four decades legitimized and propped up one of the worst abusers of human rights cannot evade responsibility. At the apotheosis of international hypocrisy in supporting Gadhafi stands the United Nations Human Rights Council (with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as its official secretariat).

With the UN Human Rights Council and other UN bodies now scrambling to position themselves on the winning side of history, with belated condemnations of violence and abuses in Libya, it would be unfortunate for the world to forget the sordid history of the central UN human rights body and its responsibility as an enabler and apologist for so many deadly dictatorships.

Astonishingly, in May 2010, in a secret ballot, Libya received a shocking 155 votes (out of 192 countries), and was elected to the UN Human Rights Council.

The world was certainly aware of the vast litany of domestic and international crimes committed by the Gadhafi regime. Even in the corridors of the UN there was occasional talk and concern about Libya’s human rights practices, such as extrajudicial and summary executions, systematic use of torture, and the imposition of the death penalty for political and economic offences.

The international community was also aware that Libyan agents in 1988 blew up a passenger airplane over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, exploded a French airliner over the Sahara desert, killing 170, and in 1986 blew up the La Belle disco in Berlin, killing two Americans and wounding dozens. Gadhafi also financed and helped train dozens of terrorist organizations, supported Charles Taylor in the Liberian civil war that was responsible for more than 200,000 deaths, and backed Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who brought hunger and devastation to that once relatively prosperous country.

after 2003 (when Gadhafi thought it prudent, in the wake of the ouster of Saddam Hussein, to give up his weapons of mass destruction program) embarked on a dangerously misguided policy of “constructive engagement,” where they thought they could combine profit and peace.

It was, however, the Human Rights Council that really burnished Libya’s international image in an Orwellian theatre of the absurd. For instance, at a council meeting in November 2010 for a universal periodic review of rights protection, country after country paid tribute to the Gadhafi regime’s performance on human rights.

Qatar expressed its appreciation for Libya’s human rights performance. The Syrian representative, without irony, spoke of the unique experience of democracy in Libya and the growth and development of human rights there. Saudi Arabia strongly praised Libya’s interest in “promoting and protecting human rights.” North Korea and Cuba glowingly endorsed Libya’s efforts and “significant achievements” in human rights.

Little wonder that with such fulsome praise and endorsements from the world’s leading human rights body, the Gadhafi regime rejected even moderate “suggestions” at improving its human rights record.

As in the case of other murderous dictatorships, the Gadhafi regime will come to an end, hopefully the political order will be fundamentally changed, and the long-suffering people of Libya will have their rights and dignity protected. What, however, will happen to the UN Human Rights Council (and its secretariat) that also bears such heavy responsibility for the horrors the people of Libya have had to endure?

Source: Toronto Star


Flush with petrodollars, Libya has been buying stakes in Italian companies, while Italian companies have clinched contracts for energy and infrastructure projects in the North African state. Libya supplies a quarter of Italy’s crude oil needs, and is also a key provider of gas.

Following is a list of Libya’s main Italian investments and Italian companies with investments in Libya.


Italy’s biggest oil and gas company has extensive operations in Libya, including long-term take-or-pay contracts. The company, which has operated in Libya since 1959, has said it plans to invest as much as $25 billion there. Libya accounts for about 13 percent of its entire production.


Italy’s biggest builder Impregilo was expected to be a big gainer from Berlusconi’s push to develop ties with Libya and is vying for a piece of a Libyan motorway project financed by Rome that is worth as much as 5 billion euros.Impregilo has also been cited in the past as a possible target for Libyan investment.


A consortium led by oil services company Saipem, which is controlled by Eni, won a 835-million-euro contract for the first part of the Libyan motorway project. The consortium also includes engineering and construction firm Maire Tecnimont.


Italian aerospace and defense company Finmeccanica SpA and Libya in 2009 agreed to cooperate on aerospace and other projects in the Middle East and Africa. Under the deal, a 50-50 joint venture between Finmeccanica and the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio will be created and act as the main vehicle for investments.


Libya’s stake in banking group UniCredit stands at a total 7.6 percent after the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) acquired a 2.59 percent stake in Italy’s biggest lender. LIA also owns 3 percent of British publisher Pearson, which owns the Financial Times


Libya came to the rescue of Fiat in 1977 at the invitation of the head of its founding family, Giovanni Agnelli, with the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (Lafico) buying a stake of about 15 percent in what was then a struggling carmaker.


Lafico has 7.5 percent of the soccer club Juventus, which is controlled by the Agnellis. Gaddafi’s son, Al-Saadi Gaddafi, used to sit on the Juventus board and was even a player for Perugia and Udine. Libya at one stage considered bidding for the Roman club Lazio and also poured money into Triestina.


Lafico holds 21.7 percent of Olcese, according to the textile company’s website.


Source: Thomson Reuters data, company websites, Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, IFSWF




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