Friday, October 17, 2014

And WHY NOT Venezuela on the Security Council?

In a cartoon from El Tiempo Venezuelans complain about shortages of food and toilet paper and lack of a free press. But we're in the Security Council! Pres. Maduro replies. 
Venezuela made news this week by getting elected to the lofty heights of the United Nations Security Council.

After all, Venezuela's government is progressively strangling independent media, has made its courts puppets and is frequently accused by human rights organizations of abusing and imprisoning legal protesters.

A few headlines from Human Rights Watch's (HRW) Venezuela page:

So, Venezuela is no example to be set high to be admired by other nations.

But the Security Council members as a group are not exemplars of respect for human rights.

Of the five permanent members, with veto power, one, China, is an outright dictatorship, and a second, Russia, is a democracy in form only and a regular repressor of human rights.

Then there's current member Nigeria, whose security forces are accused by HRW of "indiscriminate arrest, detention, torture, and extra-judicial killing," of supporters of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, as well as burning and destroying homes in regions with Boko Haram support.

And Chad, where government forces have committed "the vast majority of summary executions and unlawful killings, and almost all village burnings, have been carried out by government forces, often in reprisal for rebel attacks," says HRW.

Among those joining the Security Council along with Venezuela is Malaysia, whose government, HRW says, "should cease using the country’s sedition law to arbitrarily arrest opposition lawmakers, activists, and critical academics."

If only U.N. member nations made respect for human rights a criteria for election to important positions. But they don't, as a look at the nations which have even served on the U.N.'s Human Rights council will show. Neither does there seem to be much effective peer pressure for member governments clean up their acts.

Nevertheless, the U.N. does provide a place for debate and conversation - and perhaps that's why there's been no global war since the U.N. was established in the wake of World War II.

Once on the Security Council, Venezuela will use its position as a platform to rant and rave, mostly against the United States. Let them yell. That's free speech. But very few - except for the Bolivarian Revolution's True Believers - will believe them.

For its part, Colombia has kept quiet while Venezuela has "turned into an autocratic, despotic state," in the words of the New York Times. Colombia's motives are obvious: Venezuela is an important trading partner and supports the peace negotiations with the FARC guerrillas - a centerpiece of Pres. Santos' reelection campaign. But that doesn't make Colombia's behavior any more ethical.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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