United Nations

U.N. Elects Venezuela to Human Rights Council

The council's design all but ensures absurdities like this.


The United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights Venezuela released a blistering report on Venezuela in July. It found that President Nicolas Maduro's government engaged in widespread human rights abuses, including the torture and murder of political opponents and average citizens.

Yesterday, Venezuela was also elected to the United Nations' Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body charged with "strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights."

Also being elected to fill several of the 14 vacant seats on the 47-member council were Mauritania—where local human rights groups estimate that up to 20 percent of the population is enslaved—and Sudan, currently led by a hybrid civilian-military council chaired by a general who overthrew the last president in a coup.

Venezuela's election has stirred the most controversy. Everyone from Joe Biden to Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) has condemned the choice. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, called it "a slap in the face to the government's countless torture and murder victims as well as the millions who have fled the humanitarian disaster that the repressive government created."

This is hardly the first time that governments with less than sterling human rights records have been elected to the Human Rights Council. China, Russia, Eritrea, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba have all won seats in the past.

Indeed, the elevation of nasty governments to the council is all but ensured by its design. Membership is based on "equitable geographical distribution," with a fixed number of seats going to each region of the globe. Africa gets 13 seats as does the Asia-Pacific Region. Western Europe gets seven seats, while Eastern Europe gets another six. The Latin American/Caribbean region gets eight. The fixed number of seats per region means that relatively liberal places have a small share of the overall seats. And term limits—a member is ineligible for immediate reelection after serving for two consecutive three-year terms—ensure that relatively decent governments that make it onto the council will be prevented from running again.

This is effectively what happened with Venezuela. The Latin American region had two open seats, and it initially attracted only two candidates: Venezuela and Brazil. Costa Rica, in an effort to prevent Venezuela's election, launched a last-minute candidacy for one of the open seats last week. It failed.

Venezuela's election obviously undermines whatever credibility the Human Rights Council had. It also highlights a dilemma faced by intergovernmental bodies that try to be both representative and liberal in a world full of illiberal regimes.

The takeaway: Those looking to advance human liberty probably shouldn't rest too many of their hopes on cabals of powerful heads of state.

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  1. Venezuelan diplomats just ran for the seat so they could use the council’s many printed reports in the john.

  2. If only the right countries were in charge then the system work as designed.

    1. Geez, you sound like the Democrats after the 2016 election…

      1. Shit, I was going for communist apologist…oh wait you said Democrats never mind I nailed it!

    2. If only we had the right police officers…
      If only we got rid of the bad apples in the mafia…

      1. But you repeat yourself…

      2. If only men were angels.

        If only government were run by angels.

        1. If only government were run by angels.

          Cue Crime & the City Solution’s “The Last Dictator.”

          (would link, but full song not available on YT)

  3. “It found that President Nicolas Maduro’s government engaged in widespread human rights abuses, including the torture and murder of political opponents and average citizens.”

    That sounds awful.

    As a Koch / Reason libertarian, and especially as a fan of Shikha Dalmia, I’ll use this bad news as an opportunity to encourage the entire population of Venezuela to immigrate to the United States.


    1. Hey, if it applies to the Kurds, why not every other people group in some sort of disadvantageous situation, right friend?

      1. Alaska is pretty empty.

  4. I guess Maduro is up next for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    1. Ahhhhhh, that prize is a joke now anyway. After building up so much credibility by awarding it to Obama, they pissed it all away by snubbing Greta Thunberg.


      1. That prize has been a joke ever since Gandhi won it after nuking countless civilizations.

        1. Or at least since Yassir Arafat won it. Or possibly Kissinger.

        2. To let you know, at least I appreciate Civilization references. Well done, CMW

      2. Well what kind of progressive would even want an award named after another white male, who did untold damage to the environment with his invention of dynamite.

      3. You had been getting boring but this is A+ material. Nice job.

  5. And yet we pour tax dollar after tax dollar into that cesspool.

  6. So Joe Biden condemned the appointment? And what did he suggest as a solution? Withholding some portion of U.S. dues?
    Getting out the of the UN and getting the UN out of the U.S.?
    Appointing his son, Hunter, to be Secretary General?

    1. Well, Hunter has travelled to some foreign countries. So he is clearly qualified. That was the logic used to put him on the board at Amtrak. since he rode the train a lot.

      1. I thought it was because he had seen a train from a private jet one time.

  7. In Venezuela, one can blow on a cheap plastic flute, w/o getting permission from ANYONE! THAT, right there, is why Venezuela can, and should, lecture the USA about “human rights”! Let’s send our FDA to go and study hard, under Venezuelan tutelage! ONLY in the USA, does one have to get Government-Almighty-sanctioned permission, before blowing upon a cheap plastic “lung flute”! Let’s not get TOO entirely TOO self-righteous here, my supposedly-individual-freedom-loving brethren and sisternly cisterns and cysts!

    To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

  8. Perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize for Maduro is up next.

  9. Out of the UN

  10. Get the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US!

  11. Wait til they find out abortion is illegal in Venezuela.

  12. U.N. is such a joke.

    As former Israeli ambassador Abba Eban once said about their record on Israel “ “If Algeria introduced a resolution that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”

  13. Why does Europe have all those separate seats? Aren’t they United Euroland? Maybe we should demand a seat for all of our 49 states. (none for California)

    1. Thought it was 57 states.

  14. Wait a minute!

    It’s estimated that 20% of Mauritania’s population is enslaved!? Actual slavery? Why are the news media and all those SJWs completely silent about this?

    1. No wipepo involved, so its not really slavery.

    2. We should prepare for reparations……it’s our fault………sorry…….don’t hate us………..we will send you money!

  15. In related news two wolves and a coyote were elected to lead the sheep preservation committee.

    1. Probably wouldn’t turn out so bad. Predators don’t eat all the prey animals. They were nature’s first conservationists.

  16. I would have expected more from an organization that exists primarily to obfuscate, normalize and aggrandize socialist atrocity.

  17. “The council’s design all but ensures absurdities like this.”

    The UN’s arrangements pretty much insures worthless endeavors, rapist ‘guardians of the peace’, laughable pronouncements, etc.
    The UN is the obvious example of the failure of ‘global government’.
    Let it live, but get the US out of it NOW and move the headquarters to North Korea.

  18. I am not sure why this surprises anybody with even a little common sense. The UN has been nothing but a sham for decades. Much like the demoncrats, their efforts to make everybody equal has resulted in nobody being held responsible. A joke of a institution.

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