Venezuela’s UN Human Rights Council bid is a problem

Rights activists hail Venezuela’s departure from UN Human Rights Council

By Paola Borboni, Special to The Christian Science MonitorMarch 2, 2004

Kosovan Serbs at an anti-fascist rally in the capital of Pristina

By Paola Borboni, Special to The Christian Science MonitorMarch 2, 2004

Kosovan Serbs at an anti-fascist rally in the capital of Pristina

GENEVA — Venezuela’s UN Human Rights Council bid has made human rights advocates across the world hopeful about the future of their work. But the international rights body often ends up creating another problem. Not only are the members themselves unable to agree among themselves, but their votes can be influenced by members of the countries in which they preside who are not willing to compromise. That was the case this week when a divided Human Rights Commission voted to expel Venezuela from the body for human rights violations in its war against the Sandinistas and the opposition.

The commission’s vote, which was 5-2, was strongly influenced by the three members on Venezuela’s right, a majority of whom were from Venezuela and one of whose members is now in prison in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. The five voting commissioners — who were from the EU, Canada, and the United States — made a united stand against Venezuela. The vote reflected their fear that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a former Marxist party member who used the U.S. government as his base during the 2002-2003 war in his homeland, may end up in a difficult position should the country become an independent country in the future.

“This was an important moment for human rights organizations,” said Jose Luis Rodriguez, director of Venezuela’s leading human rights group, the Coordination Committee for Human Rights and Justice. “We’ve got a lot of goodwill and a lot of support among other countries as well, so it was great that the U.N. had to ask. It was a very emotional day, an emotional end of the year, and the world should be proud of Venezuela.”

The issue of Venezuela’s possible recognition as a state of its own is still

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