Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the UN General Assembly Resolution Suspending Libya from the Human Rights Council

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
March 1, 2011


Mr. President, for the first time ever, the General Assembly has suspended a member of the Human Rights Council. This is a harsh rebuke—but one that Libya’s leaders have brought down upon themselves.

The United States continues to be appalled by the situation in Libya, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Libyans who have been killed. The General Assembly has come together to speak with one voice to Libya’s unrepentant rulers. This unprecedented action sends another clear warning to Mr. Qadhafi and those who still stand by him: they must stop the killing. When the only way a leader can cling to power is by grossly and systematically violating his own people’s human rights, he has lost any legitimacy to rule. He must go, and he must go now.

The protests in Libya are being driven by the people of Libya. This is about the universal human rights of the Libyan people and all people—and about a regime that has failed to meet its responsibility to protect its own population. The United States was pleased to co-sponsor this resolution along with partners from all regions of the world, which underscores the universality of this decision and the depth of our commitment to the human rights we all share.

Mr. President, I must add that the United States utterly rejects the willful and ugly distortion by the Venezuelan delegation of U.S. policy and posture. At a time when this assembly is acting in unison in support of the Libyan people, it is shameful that one member state, whose own reprehensible record speaks for itself, would manipulate this occasion to spread lies, foster fear, and sow hate.

The General Assembly, by contrast, today has acted in the noblest traditions of the United Nations—and made it clear that governments that turn their guns on their own people have no place on the Human Rights Council. Membership on the Human Rights Council should be earned through respect for human rights, and not accorded to those who abuse them. We hope that we can work together to build on today’s united, bold, and principled action to defend universal human rights across the United Nations system.

We applaud the members of the General Assembly for taking this historic decision.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2011/039