Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls Venezuela’s Election to Human Rights Council Absurd
Venezuela was re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday, a move which Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon ridiculed in a statement.
“When a country like Venezuela, which suppresses its own people, forbids freedom of the press and detains members of the opposition, becomes a member of the Human Rights Council, it comes as no surprise that this council condemns Israel more than any other country in the world,” he said.
“The only connection between these countries and human rights is how much they excel at violating them. We will continue to raise our voice, refute every lie, and expose the real face of those who have the audacity to lecture us at every opportunity at the UN,” said Danon.
His comments came after 131 of the UN General Assembly’s 193 members voted in favor of admitting Venezuela to the 2016-2018 term of the HRC, which in its nine-year history has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than the rest of the world’s nations combined. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez declared Venezuela’s re-election a victory, in spite of what she said were smear campaigns by other countries, including the US.
According to CNS News, countries designated by Freedom House as “free” still constitute a minority at the HRC, as they have every year since 2009. Venezuela is designated as “partly free.”
Additionally, the State Department, in its latest yearly evaluation of human rights abuses by country, painted a grim picture of the basic violations in the Latin American nation, including the use of force to quash anti-government protests, arbitrary detentions, torture, the arrest and imprisonment of opposition figures and delay of their trials, the politicization of the judicial system and restricted freedom of the press.
The State Department also noted antisemitism in some senior government officials’ statements.
Indeed, relations between Venezuela, Iran and North Korea have moved forward this year. In June, Caracas and Tehran signed several economic agreements aimed at deepening joint development projects, and Venezuela signaled the opening of a North Korean embassy in the country.
Before Sunday morning’s vote, the Geneva-based UN Watch group warned admitting Venezuela would make a mockery of the UN’s rights forum: “If we put Venezuela in charge of freedom of assembly, Pakistan in charge of religious freedom, and UAE in charge of labor rights, we are simply turning the UN into a laughingstock.”
The group sent around a document on Wednesday declaring nine candidates, including Venezuela, unqualified to join the council. UN Watch also noted that Venezuela had voted against resolutions at the UN condemning human rights abuses in Iran, North Korea and Syria.
The others countries deemed unqualified by UN Watch were Burundi, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Pakistan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates.