The six countries – Botswana, Gabon, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Qatar – represented all the groups of countries – African, Arab, and Islamic – from which Colonel Qaddafi has sought support (or has sought to represent) in the past.
“It’s not the usual suspects coming together on something like this, and that tells you something about Qaddafi and Libya and the context in which this crisis is occurring,” says John Entelis, director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at Fordham University in New York.
Qaddafi has burned many bridges over the years to countries that might have otherwise sympathized with him, Professor Entelis says. But the context of upheaval across the Middle East is also something General Assembly members realize they cannot disregard, he adds.
“Historically, and even toward the most outrageous acts by member states, third-world countries have been very cautious about taking a position that sometime down the road might be directed at them,” he says. “But this is egregious – even for Qaddafi, who has managed to annoy and alienate so many people for a long time. And then there is the reality that ‘the whole world is watching,’ and these countries really do want [the UN] to be relevant and listened to.”
The resolution to suspend Libya from the HRC had 72 co-sponsors – suggesting broad disapproval of Qaddafi’s violence against his own people. Still, the move led some human rights advocates to question the General Assembly’s consistency.