Venezuela at the UN, Washington At Bay

Source: The Nation

Last week, 181 member states of the United Nations voted yea in Venezuela’s favor, allowing Caracas to take one of the two non-permanent seats on the Security Council reserved for Latin America.

Tongues clucked and fingers wagged. In the run-up to the vote, editorial boards, columnists and members of congress urged Washington to whip together the sixty-five nations needed to block Venezuela’s two-year term. But in the end, Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, could only secure only eleven opposing votes. Venezuela was Latin America’s unanimous choice to replace outgoing Argentina, joining Chile, which has one more year left. Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted his concern: “Shameful that Latin America 1) proposes abusive #Venezuela for UN Security Council, and 2) no one else, so no choice.”

Power reacted to the vote by collectively scolding the Latin American caucus:

The UN Charter makes clear that candidates for membership on the Security Council should be contributors to the maintenance of international peace and security and support the other purposes of the UN, including promoting universal respect for human rights. Regional groups have a responsibility to put forward candidates that satisfy these criteria.

Nearly exactly one hundred years ago, Woodrow Wilson said he was “going to teach the South American republics to elect good men.” We’re still trying.

Power then went on to say, “Venezuela’s conduct at the UN has run counter to the spirit of the UN Charter and its violations of human rights at home are at odds with the Charter’s letter.”

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