Post by PL
On 7/12/2017 9:23 PM, jat wrote: the snippets he wants you to read
instead of the full text
As Venezuelans die on the streets, U.N. Human Rights Council remains mum
By Andrés Oppenheimer
What a travesty. Despite Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's
bloody repression of opposition protests that has resulted in more
than 100 dead, thousands of wounded and hundreds of political
prisoners over the past three months, the United Nations Human
Rights Council, UNHRC, has not uttered a single word about
Venezuela's human rights crisis.
The Geneva-based UNHRC, whose job is to "uphold the highest
standards" of human rights across the world, has not issued one
single resolution about Venezuela, nor convened any urgent session
to discuss the crisis there, nor called for any inquiry into the
deaths of protesters by armed government-backed mobs.
There is a reason for that inaction, of course. About half of the
council's 47 member countries are dictatorships — including Cuba,
China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela — who defend one another
against charges of human-rights violations. In fact, the UNHRC is a
mutual protection society for the world's worst dictatorships.
"The council is entitled to call an emergency session on Venezuela
any day, and given what is happening on the streets there, they
should have done that," says Hillel Neuer, head of U.N. Watch, a
Geneva-based advocacy group. "But they have never called for an
emergency session on Venezuela.
"They should have created a commission of inquiry on what is
happening there, and they have not done that either. On the
contrary, Venezuela was recently re-elected to the council."
Neither the United States nor other democracies represented at the
council presented any motions to the council condemning Venezuela's
human rights abuses.
The Trump administration, aside from a few photo shots of President
Donald Trump with Venezuelan opposition figures and some targeted
visa sanctions against Venezuelan officials that had been started by
the Obama administration, has been largely invisible in the
Trump has not yet appointed a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva,
which is one of the reasons why there was no high-level pressure on
the council to debate the Venezuelan case, critics say. Nikki Haley,
the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in New York, made a brief
visit to Geneva during the UNHRC sessions in June, but only held a
side-event on Venezuela outside the council's session.
The Trump administration's diplomatic inexperience and ineptitude
were also evident at the Organization of American States' June
special meeting of foreign ministers on Venezuela. The absence of
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at that meeting helped make it
possible for a handful of tiny Caribbean islands to effectively
defeat a condemnation of Venezuela's regime by 20 countries in the
The Trump administration has said it is considering pulling out of
the UNHRC unless the council reforms itself. Haley has rightly noted
that the council's seats should be awarded through competitive
voting to keep the worst human-rights violators out of it.
As it is now, council members are appointed by their regional blocs.
That allows countries that desperately want to be in the council —
such as Cuba and Venezuela — to trade favors with their neighbors in
exchange for their appointments to the UNHRC.
But most independent human-rights groups say it would be unwise for
the Trump administration to pull out from the UNHRC. They say the
council was even worse before the Obama administration decided to
join it in 2009.
Asked whether the United States should resign from the council,
Neuer told me, "It's a dilemma. But when George W. Bush decided to
pull out, the council did not get better. It got worse. The United
States should appoint a human-rights hero as ambassador to the U.N.
in Geneva. Send someone who will fight."
My opinion: I agree, although I doubt that the Trump administration
will have any credibility as a leader on human-rights issues. Trump
has already embraced the dictators of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Turkey and several other countries, breaking a long-standing
tradition by Republican and Democratic presidents to speak out
against human-rights abuses everywhere.
The best course of action would be for all democracies, including
the United States, to start raising their voices and denouncing the
UNHRC for what it is — a monumental joke.
Watch the "Oppenheimer Presenta" TV show Sundays at 9 p.m. on CNN en