Venezuela’s Maduro Highlights Human Rights Advances at UNHRC, Slams Western Bias

In his address to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro highlighted Venezuela’s achievements in human rights. The country was re-elected to the international body last month, which the president welcomed as a “universal vote of confidence”.

By Lucas Koerner
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland. (@SRodrigoteleSUR)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland. (@SRodrigoteleSUR)

Caracas, November 15, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – In his address to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro highlighted Venezuela’s achievements in human rights. The country was re-elected to the international body in a landslide victory last month, which Maduro welcomed as a “universal vote of confidence”.

During a forty-minute speech, the leftist head of state underscored Venezuela’s accomplishments in the construction of a “viable, successful, and useful social State”, emphasizing that even in the face of economic crisis triggered by an approximately 64 percent fall in oil prices, the country will nonetheless close 2015 with record figures in poverty reduction.

Praising the work of Venezuela’s National Human Rights Council, he affirmed his government’s commitment to implementing its four-year National Human Rights Plan, which emerged out of a public consultation process involving 200,000 proposals from diverse social sectors.

In reference to Venezuela’s upcoming parliamentary elections, Maduro called on human rights organizations to support the work of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) observer mission, noting that the December 6th poll will be the 19th electoral race during the Bolivarian Revolution’s seventeen years in power.

The Venezuelan leader also took aim at the international human rights community, criticizing its silence over past and ongoing crimes of US and European colonialism. 

“Who talks about the indigenous holocaust, exterminated in order to impose colonial reason? Who talks about the African holocaust? How many of our grandparents and ancestors…were enslaved and brought to America, there are still no figures.”

In particular, Maduro lambasted the international community over its inaction in the face of the Mediterranean refugee crisis as well as the Israeli colonization of Palestine, affirming Palestinians’ “right to life, sovereignty, and self-determination”.

The South American leader additionally reiterated calls for the reform of the HRC and other UN organizations, denouncing their “misuse” by the United States as a “political weapon against governments and independent, dissident, and rebellious processes, as is Venezuela’s revolutionary process.”

Maduro also reserved sharp criticism for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein who accused Venezuela of “attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers” in a pre-recorded video screened during the ceremony.

In the unscheduled appearance, Zeid questioned the independence of the Venezuelan judiciary, referring specifically to ex-judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni convicted of judicial misconduct and far right politician Leopoldo Lopez, convicted in September of leading last year’s violent anti-government demonstrations known as “the exit”.

Maduro, for his part, accused the UN high commissioner of a “lack of respect” for failing to conform to the internal procedures of the international organ.

“One thing is to have a debate governed by [the procedures of] our human rights system and another is the absolutely unilateral intervention by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, absolutely biased conduct in which he disqualifies himself.”

Maduro’s protest was echoed by several member states present, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia, who announced their intention to lodge a formal complaint with Zeid.