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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI34, UN ORGANIZES HUMAN RIGHTS CONTACT GROUP WITH KEY LIBYAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI34 2009-01-19 12:12 2011-02-01 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
Appears in these articles:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/libya-wikileaks/
VZCZCXRO9994
OO RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0034 0191258
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 191258Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4331
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1379
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0735
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0867
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0810
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4854
C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000034 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/MAG AND DRL/NEASA (SKWIRAM) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  1/15/2019 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV SOCI LY
SUBJECT: UN ORGANIZES HUMAN RIGHTS CONTACT GROUP WITH KEY LIBYAN 
ORGANIZATIONS 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, PolEcon Chief. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 

1. (C) Summary: UN officials have quietly begun a human rights contact group that consists of quasi-governmental organizations with strong ties to the al-Qadhafi regime (two of groups are chaired by children of al-Qadhafi).  The goals are to build awareness of basic human/civil rights and expand the capacity of quasi-governmental organizations to begin implementing human rights programs in Libya.  The UN views the effort as one that will likely only bear fruit in the long-term.  The decision to focus on groups with well-connected leadership is a double-edged sword: the groups potentially have more room for maneuver within the GOL than others; however, their leaders' proximity to senior GOL figures also enables the regime to closely control the extent and pace of broader human rights engagement.  End summary.  

2. (C) United Nations officials resident in Tripoli have quietly inaugurated meetings of a human rights contact group that consists of quasi-governmental organizations.  The group first met last September and has gathered twice since.  The group's chair, UNHCR Chief of Mission Mohammed al-Wash, is focused on building awareness of basic human/civil rights and expanding the capacity of GOL entities and quasi-governmental organizations to begin implementing human rights programs in Libya.  Al-Wash also hopes to help GOL and quasi-governmental organizations better delineate their respective areas of responsibility to avoid redundant efforts and conflicts over turf.  

3. (C) In addition to al-Wash and representatives from the UNDP's Tripoli office, the group currently comprises the following individuals: Ahmed Kajma from the Waatesimu Foundation; Muhammad Kusa of the Organization of Youth for Voluntary Works; Saleh Abdulsalam Saleh, Director of the Qadhafi Development Foundation's (QDF) Human Rights Committee; Khaled al-Hmeidi of the International Organization for Peace, Care, and Relief (IOPCR); representatives of the World Islamic Call Society (WICS); and Hosni al-Waheish from the General People's Congress Committee for Human Rights.  Significantly, the quasi-governmental groups all have strong ties to the al-Qadhafi regime.  Waatesimu is chaired by Aisha al-Qadhafi, daughter of Muammar al-Qadhafi; her brother, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, chairs the QDF.  Muhammad Kusa, who chairs the Organization of Youth for Voluntary Works, is the brother of Musa Kusa, Director of the External Security Organization.  Khaled al-Hmeidi, chairman of the IOPCR, is a confidante of both Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi and Muatassim al-Qadhafi, and travels regularly with Muammar al-Qadhafi - most recently to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali.  WICS, chaired by Dr. Muhammad Sharif, has a well-funded campus at which it provides undergraduate and graduate education in Islamic studies, primarily to students from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, as a means to propagate more tolerant iterations of Islam.  

4. (C) Representatives of foreign missions have not yet been invited to observe the meetings.  Al-Wash and the UN Resident Representative, Brian Gleeson, hope to eventually expand the contact group to include diplomats and representatives of foreign NGO's (i.e., IOM); however, they do not reasonably expect that to happen soon.  The approach is to develop more viable partners on the Libyan side before taking the more politically sensitive step (from the GOL's perspective) of expanding contacts between the international community and quasi-governmental Libyan entities.  Al-Wash was clear that this is but the first step in a process of expanded engagement that will take years.  He cautioned against efforts to push the GOL and quasi-governmental organizations in Libya to expand human rights engagement too soon, stressing that "the tiger didn't change its stripes just because the regime decided to give up WMD".   

5. (C) Comment: The UN is able to engage in a proto-human rights dialogue in large part because it is viewed as being less threatening than diplomatic missions, but also because both UNDP and UNHCR have carefully cultivated close contacts with the quasi-governmental organizations that make up the group. Al-Wash has a sober view of the task before him, understanding that while the organizations' high-powered leadership potentially gives them more room for maneuver within the GOL than traditional NGOs elsewhere typically enjoy, their proximity to senior GOL figures also enables the regime to closely control the extent and pace of broader human rights engagement.  If the regular meetings can help better coordinate the groups' efforts, it could help us and other likeminded missions better identify the addresses at which to lodge our human rights concerns and, in the long term, develop programs for cooperation and engagement on human rights issues.  End comment.  
CRETZ