United Nations member countries should send a clear message to the Nicolás Maduro administration that they will not reward cruel and abusive policies that have destroyed the lives of millions of people with a seat on the UN’s top human rights body,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Venezuela’s election would be an insult to a body whose members are supposed to uphold the highest human rights standards.”

On October 17, 2019, the UN General Assembly will elect 14 new members of the 47-country Human Rights Council for a three-year term beginning in January 2020. Until October 3, the Latin American and Caribbean regional group at the UN was offering only two candidates for two council seats – Venezuela and Brazil – virtually assuring them both of victory. With Costa Rica announcing on October 3 that it would compete for one of the two seats, members of the 193-nation General Assembly have an opportunity to deny a seat to Maduro’s representatives, Human Rights Watch said.

On September 27, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to create an independent fact-finding mission to investigate extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment committed in Venezuela since 2014. The resolution was put forward by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru – members of the Lima Group that have led international efforts to pressure Venezuelan authorities to curb abuses. Human Rights Council members have a duty to cooperate with the UN rights body, but Venezuela has already said that it rejects this resolution – a further demonstration that it is not fit for a council seat, Human Rights Watch said. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/10/02/result-of-the-42nd-session-of-the-un-human-rights-council/]

In announcing his country’s candidacy, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada tweeted on October 3 that, “Due to the serious violations against human rights evidenced by the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Venezuelan regime is not the suitable candidate for the UN #HumanRights Council. #CostaRica is proposed as an alternative.

Not all Human Rights Council members are exemplary – far from it – but Venezuela is clearly beyond the pale,” Vivanco said. “Inviting Maduro’s representatives to undermine the Human Rights Council from within would be an affront not only to his government’s victims, but also to victims of human rights violations worldwide.