The U.S. delegation to the United Nations is looking to win tough language against Libya by the U.N. Human Rights Council, as the body prepares for what may be its most critical test since President Obama reversed U.S. policy in 2009 and joined the controversial panel.
The Human Rights Council is notorious for showing an anti-Israel bias and being slow to condemn blatant human rights abuses by countries aligned with certain members of the 47-member council.
As it happens, Libya earned a seat on the Human Rights Council in 2010 -- a point that will likely come up for debate when the council meets for a special session Friday. U.S. diplomats plan to back an effort to kick Libya off the council and name a special investigator to look into atrocities committed on protesters rebelling against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
"We support expelling Libya from the Human Rights Council," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday. "The Libyan government has violated the rights of its people. You know, taking this step continues the increased isolation that the Libyan government is facing."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that U.S. and ally sanctions are possible against Libya. But Friday's meeting, as well as a formal session in Geneva next week which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to attend, stand as a test for Obama's representative on the council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe.
The ambassador arrived at the council as a tough U.N. critic. Her 2006 Ph.D. dissertation was a lengthy critique of the sometimes-passive role the United Nations has played when confronted with human rights crises. She concluded that the United Nations should condition a country's sovereignty on its human rights record -- in other words, human rights abuses can justify military intervention, she argued.
"Decisions with respect to intervention have been hesitant, too late, inconsistent, ineffective or all of the above," she wrote of the U.N. Security Council in her 2006 dissertation for her Ph.D in ethics from the University of California's Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
She cited the response in Rwanda in 1994, in Kosovo in 1999 and in East Timor the same year.
The Human Rights Council is not where military-related decisions at the U.N. are made, and it's unclear whether Donahoe could have sway on the Security Council from her post on the human rights panel. She joined after Obama in early 2009 decided to reverse a Bush administration boycott on the controversial panel.
The U.N. Security Council in New York currently has no further meetings planned on Libya this week, following Tuesday's press statement that condemned the violence and called for an immediate end to fighting.
But Hillel Neuer, director of Geneva-based U.N. Watch, said the Human Rights Council can send an important message. He said the lengths to which Qaddafi has gone to block media and communication in Libya demonstrate he's concerned about international pressure.
"Geneva doesn't have the power of the sword. They have the power of shame, and that's significant," Neuer told FoxNews.com. "It's hardly sufficient, but it would be an important beginning."
The 47-member council is controlled by a bloc of Islamic and African states, backed by China, Cuba, and Russia, which human rights groups say protect one another from criticism.
Member countries of the Human Rights Council are currently mulling over a draft resolution circulated on Wednesday that calls for an immediate end to hostilities in Libya and the launch of an investigation that would determine who should be held accountable for the bloodshed in the North African nation.
The latest draft includes a provision recommending the General Assembly consider booting Libya off the Human Rights Council. The meeting Friday marks the first time the Human Rights Council has scrutinized one of its members in a special session. To suspend Libya, which was elected to a three-year term on the council in May 2010, it would take a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly.
U.N. diplomats told Fox News there is talk the General Assembly may convene early next week to take up Libya and its Human Rights Council membership.
Neuer said the Human Rights Council could nudge the General Assembly in that direction with a strong statement on Friday. He expressed satisfaction with the draft resolution, though he was disappointed by language that referenced human rights violations "in Libya."
"It should condemn the government and make clear the violations are by the government," Neuer said.
He said if the killings continue, "only force" will be able to stop them. He said the U.N. Security Council could be able to clear the way for a multinational coalition to enforce a no-fly zone if necessary.
"People are being slaughtered right now," he said. "It's shocking the imagination and the conscience of mankind."
The U.S. Mission in Geneva said in a statement to FoxNews.com that Donahoe will speak for the United States at the Friday session. "The systematic and egregious violations of human rights that we see in Libya are grounds for suspension," the statement said.
Obama, speaking publicly about the Libyan violence for the first time Wednesday, condemned the killings and said he's asked his administration "to prepare the full range of options" to respond.
"Everything will be on the table," Clinton said Wednesday.
Though there are concerns about the safety of Americans trying to leave Libya, some have criticized the administration for its response.
"The failure of the United States to really speak forcefully in favor of those who seek freedom in this broader region is really quite pathetic," Stephen Yates, a fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council, told Fox News. "You think it would not take as long for them to realize that we need to pick a side here, and with Libya it's not a hard choice."
Fox News' Jonathan Wachtel contributed to this report.