UN Human Rights Council – A Story of Hypocrisy and Failure

The recent inclusion of Venezuela to the UN Human Rights Council is evidence of a hypocritical institution and system that the world is giving up on. 

After the failed US-backed coup in Venezuela earlier this year, the South American nation has been relatively absent from western media news stories. The chaos and turmoil have continued in Venezuela however.

A report from Human Rights Watch last month notes that a special police unit has been deployed to carry out executions in poverty-stricken communities who were seen as disloyal to Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro. Since 2016, 18,000 are alleged to have been killed for “resistance to authority.” More than a third of these have taken place in the last year.

venezuela and the un human rights council

These sorts of atrocities along with an economic collapse have triggered the second largest displaced person crisis in the world. More than 4 million Venezuelans are now displaced from all ranges of wealth and financial demographics.

We might easily assume that such dysfunction, brutality, and chaos would trigger a response from the global community through a forum like the United Nations. In fact, the United Nations itself issued a report on Venezuela’s human rights violations in July of this year.

venezuela and un human rights council

But even as these atrocities are occurring, this week Venezuela won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

What is the UN Human Rights Council 

According to its web site, the UNHRC: is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations as well as making recommendations on them.

un human rights council

Venezuela is now sitting on the council that is presumably responsible for strengthening, promoting, and protecting human rights around the world. Securing this seat on the UNHRC was a deliberate move by the Maduro regime in Venezuela to improve its image around the world.

Members who win a seat on the UNHRC can serve up to two consecutive three-year terms and are not eligible for immediate reelection after serving two consecutive terms. Presumably, the term limit status is established to prevent a sense of unfairness or injustice within the UNHRC.

Who Else Is A Member of the UN Human Rights Council

un human rights council

The available seats on the UNHRC are based upon an equitable geographic distribution. Africa gets 13 seats, Eastern Europe 6 seats, and so on. There are 47 members at any one time whose terms expire on a revolving basis. Here are some of Venezuela’s peers on the UN Human Rights Council:

  • Afghanistan – Currently the home to one of the most violent civil wars in the world not to mention countless atrocities against women and children.
  • Burkina Faso – A massive terrorist uprising has been spreading between Mali and Burkina Faso in the last couple of years. Schools, churches and mosques are the locations of many terrorist attacks.
  • Cameroon – The subject of multiple reports from human rights organizations over the last year. After three years of conflict almost 3,000 have been killed in Cameroon and 500,000 have been displaced.
  • China – Home of the political prison camps that are housing 1.5 million Uighur Muslims in an effort to re-educate them. Their children are frequently sent to orphanages and taught that their parents have mental illnesses due to their religious beliefs.
  • Egypt – More than 2,500 people have been sentenced to death since 2013. Under the framework of anti-terrorism laws thousands of opposition political voices are “disappearing” into the massive Egyptian prison system.
  • Eritrea – Has struggled for decades under authoritarianism. Many political and religious groups are forbidden, including Christian Protestants.
  • Iraq – Recent protests in Iraq have resulted in government crackdowns that killed hundreds.
  • Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has used a violent war on drugs as cause to imprison his political opponents and kill as many as 23,000 people.
  • Saudi Arabia – There are many directions to look at human rights violations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but the most current and prolific is its role in the Yemen war. Airstrikes and bombings have frequently focused on civilian centers in Yemen.

These are a few of the peers of Venezuela on the esteemed UN Human Rights Council. It is a political and image saving position that accomplishes very little in the way of strengthening, promoting, and protecting human rights. It is also a clear demonstration of why so many in the world are giving up on our international institutions.

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