- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

If further evidence were needed that much of the world is not yet with us in the war against terrorism, consider this: The rotating chairmanship of the United Nation's Human Rights Commission is about to be awarded to Libya.
Libya's longtime dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, is of course a world champion human rights violator. For more than 30 years he has permitted no freedom of speech and no political dissension within Libya's borders. He has been responsible for numerous acts of terrorism. To name just a few: In 1986, his agents blew up the La Belle Disco in Berlin killing two Americans and wounding dozens; his agents struck again in 1988, when they blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270; and, in 1989, his agents blew up a French airliner over the Sahara Desert, killing 170. In addition, he has trained, equipped and financed numerous terrorist groups around the world, including the IRA (Ireland), ETA (Spain) and several Palestinian terrorist organizations.
And, despite the fact that Libya has been largely off the front pages in recent years, Libya is in no danger of losing its spot on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
In recent years, Col. Gadhafi has been implicated in weapons sales to the Revolutionary United Front, a guerrilla group in Sierra Leone best known for hacking off the limbs of ordinary citizens to drive them from areas where "blood diamonds" are found. These diamonds are the currency for supporting insurgents, coup plotters and even al Qaeda in Africa. Equally troubling, Col. Gadhafi is believed to have shipped weapons to nearby Liberia, another country in desperate shape. Destabilization appears to be part and parcel of Libya's plans for the African continent.
Col. Gadhafi's evil intentions extend to his ongoing programs to develop weapons of mass destruction including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Of these, Libya is thought to have made the most progress with chemical weapons and actually produced some at a plant located in the town of Rabta. It also has built a chemical weapons facility inside a mountain (to better resist bombing attacks) in the town of Tarhuna. While not a signatory of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Libya remains a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention. Its research programs almost certainly constitute violations of those agreements.
For such activities, Libya was slapped with international diplomatic, financial and trade sanctions in 1992. Despite U.S. objections, the sanctions were lifted in 1999, after Libya handed over two Lockerbie bombing suspects, low-level operatives, one of whom has been acquitted. Sanctions imposed by the United States unilaterally remain in place.
And now, Libya assumes the chairmanship of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, a body that claims to be dedicated to promoting the cause of civil liberties around the globe. This is occurring because, under U.N. rules, the panel's chairmanship rotates annually and this year it is Africa's turn, and Africa's dictators have chosen Libya because Col. Gadhafi has been generous with them, though not in ways that have led to any noticeable rise in their citizens' standards of living.
Does U.N. Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan have an opinion regarding Libya's suitability for this honor and responsibility? If so, we've yet to hear it.

David Silverstein, a former Capitol Hill staffer, is deputy director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank on terrorism set up just after September 11.


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