On Thursday, October 17, Venezuela obtained a seat on the Human Rights Council for the period 2020-2022, in an election organized by the UN General Assembly.
Caracas, who described his election as "important success", won 105 votes in the vote marked by applause for the announcement of the result of Venezuela. A majority of 97 votes out of 193 UN members was needed to win.
In late September, the UN Human Rights Council decided to create a group of experts to investigate human rights violations in Venezuela since 2014, an initiative described as "hostile" by Caracas .
"Victory to the UN! With 105 votes in its favor, Venezuela enters the United Nations Human Rights Council as a free and sovereign country," welcomed on Twitter the chief of the State Nicolas Maduro.
¡Victoria in the UN! Con 105 votos a favor Venezuela ingresa como país free y soberano al Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas. For the sake of the world, the Bolivarian Republic of Paz and the free autodetermination of the pueblos. ¡Viva the Patria! pic.twitter.com/5gwFcCuv7dNicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) October 17, 2019
Conversely, the opponent Juan Guaido, recognized as interim president of Venezuela by fifty countries, held that the UN allowed "Maduro's dictatorship to take place in a seat bathed in blood." With this election, he continued in front of journalists, the United Nations "lose their credibility".
Shortly before, Attorney General Tarek William Saab, a close friend of Nicolas Maduro, hailed a "significant achievement". At the same time, he announced the release of 24 opponents, without however revealing their identities or their sentences.
Based in Geneva, the Human Rights Council is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights. Its 47 members are renewed each year for about a third of them. The inauguration of the 14 new members elected on Thursday is scheduled for January for a three-year term.
Two seats were available for Latin America. Brazil won the second with 153 votes. Costa Rica, which had tried to block Venezuela, had only 96 votes in a secret ballot.
The Council succeeded the Commission on Human Rights, discredited by its long speeches and its biases. However, it is struggling to rally countries around the defense of fundamental rights, and states suspected of human rights violations regularly lead the charge against special investigators and country rapporteurs working on authoritarian regimes.
Around the world, some 50 countries - including the United States, part of Latin America and Europe - deem Nicolas Maduro's presidency illegitimate and support his opponent Juan Guaido. Nicolas Maduro however retains big support, especially from Russia and China.
"Embarrassment" and "tragedy"
The election Thursday of Caracas "is an embarrassment for the United Nations and a tragedy for the people of Venezuela", reacted in a statement the American ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft. "It proves that the Human Rights Council is a broken organization and justifies the withdrawal of the United States," she added.
Denouncing its bias against Israel, the United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council in 2018. To consider a possible return, Washington wants beforehand that the exclusion of Member States committing serious violations should be voted in favor. simple majority and not two-thirds, and that the selection process of the Member States be strengthened.
At a press conference, Chilean Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera expressed his disappointment. "We deeply regret this election, the government of Maduro does not deserve this seat and it does not have the skills to occupy it," he said.
The election of Venezuela "is a slap" in this country but also for the whole world, reacted Philippe Bolopion of the NGO Human Rights Watch who had campaigned against the candidacy of Caracas with fifty other international or Venezuelan NGOs . "It is discouraging to see a cynical candidacy taint the credibility of the Human Rights Council," he told AFP.