Venezuela’s possible election into the UN Security Council of 2015-16: What does this mean to Human Rights and the U.S.?
By admin October 2, 2014



There are many Venezuelan immigrants in New York protesting the possible inclusion of Venezuela into the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the 2015-16 year. They are concerned that a state that oppresses their people’s liberty of speech, imprisons political activists without just cause, and is constantly siding with the world’s greatest oppressors will be given a voice in the UN. Philippe Bolopion, UN director at Human Rights Watch is also concerned, stating, “Venezuela’s tendency to side with abusive governments makes it a less than ideal candidate to help manage the many human rights tragedies the Security Council is facing”.

Nonetheless, Andres Oppenhiemer states in his Miami Herald column “Venezuela was nominated for a non-permanent UNSC seat at a closed-door meeting of the GRULAC group of Latin American ambassadors to the United Nations in July. Under U.N. rules, Venezuela’s nomination will be submitted to a secret vote by the 193-country General Assembly, which usually supports each region’s candidate for non-permanent seats.” The Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) nomination should be of great concern to the U.S. because it shows that Latin America is aligning itself with a socialist state that, even though it creates human rights violations, stands up to what it believes to be “American imperialism” and belief in national sovereignty; thus demonstrating a possible partition of U.S. views and influence. Venezuela, with GRULAC’s support and no other Latin American state challenging its candidacy, hopes to prevent a repeat of what happened in the 2006 elections of UNSC where the U.S. was able to successfully lobby against its election after Chavez used the UN General Assembly’s podium to attack President George W. Bush.

Not only does the U.S. have to worry about U.S. sentiment changing in Latin America but it could look forward to much sparring between Samantha Power, the American Envoy, and Maria Gabriela Chavez, the daughter of the late Hugo Chavez due to Venezuela’s anti-U.S. stance. Venezuela will surely side with Russia and China on many issues that will most likely be discussed that year, like Russia’s expansionism and Washington’s campaign against extremist groups in the Middle East. It will most likely help influence the UNSC in matters favorable to its allies, such as North Korea (which announced it would have an embassy in Caracas), Syria, and Iran, or any other socialist or anti- U.S. government in the world; therefore making it hard or harder for the U.S. to influence other veto holding members of the UNSC. In addition, the U.S. could also look forward to what the New York Times Opinion Page calls “Theatrics to come to the UN”, in which Maria Chavez can take the route Hugo Chavez has done, making the UN general assemblies a source of entertainment at the expense of the U.S., instead of a serious discussion of key issues that affect the globe.

Even with all these concerns, U.S. officials stated that the U.S. will not actively oppose the candidacy of Venezuela and even if they wanted to. U.S. State Department spokesperson Angela Cervetti stated that “all aspiring UNSC members should support the principles of the UN Charter” and added that “who the GRULAC elects to a rotating chair is a GRULAC, not a U.S., decision.”
Nevertheless, even with the backing of GRULAC, Venezuela still needs two thirds of the General Assembly’s vote in order to become part of the UNSC. That is when the U.S. can stop Venezuela from taking the seat by getting 65 General Assembly members to vote against Venezuela; therefore, allowing the UN to remain a place of human rights advocacy and serious discussion.

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