Most Western Democracies Supported Venezuela’s Successful UN Security Council Bid

By Patrick Goodenough | October 16, 2014 | 5:37pm EDT

A U.N. ambassador posts his ballot during the election of five non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, in New York on Wednesday, October 16, 2014. (UN Photo/Yubi Hoffmann/Mark Garten)

( – Just 11 of the 193 U.N. member-states withheld their support from Venezuela in Wednesday’s election for a U.N. Security Council seat, a reflection of the Obama administration’s decision not to oppose the candidacy of one of the America’s most virulent critics.

Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, after the vote, issued a statement implying the U.S. was troubled by the outcome, but a critic of the administration’s U.N. policies was scathing.

“When Samantha Power complains about Venezuela joining the Security Council, she’s criticizing her own performance,” said Richard Grenell, who served as spokesman for four U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. during the George W. Bush administration.

“She has the power to do something,” he said. “The U.N. press corps shouldn’t let her get away with it.”

Venezuela, the only candidate put forward by the Latin American group for a seat earmarked for the region, received 181 votes in the secret-ballot election, well over the two-thirds required. Ten countries abstained, and one unidentified country voted for Brazil (which was not a declared candidate.) One ballot was invalid.

The vote result means that most countries viewed as free democracies gave President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government – an ally of Cuba, Iran and Syrian President Bashar Assad – their support.

When Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, sought a Security Council seat in 2006, the Bush administration rallied opponents. After a three-week standoff during which neither Venezuela nor U.S.-backed candidate Guatemala were able to garner the required two-thirds majority, Panama was offered as a compromise, and Chavez’ ambitions were foiled.

This time the Obama administration did not stand in the way, settling for a statement underlining the need for council candidates to support norms like upholding human rights, and saying it would “wait and see” what would happen.

After Venezuela’s comfortable victory, Power issued a statement repeating administration officials’ earlier remarks on the expectations held of Security Council candidates.

“The U.N. 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 U.N., including promoting universal respect for human rights,” she said.

“Regional groups have a responsibility to put forward candidates that satisfy these criteria and fully support the principles of the U.N. Charter. This year, Venezuela ran unopposed for the 2015-2016 Latin American seat.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power confers with a colleague during Wednesday's election. (UN Photo/Yubi Hoffmann/Mark Garten)

“Unfortunately, Venezuela’s conduct at the U.N. has run counter to the spirit of the U.N. Charter and its violations of human rights at home are at odds with the Charter’s letter,” Power said.

“The United States will continue to call upon the government of Venezuela to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of its people,” she said.

“From ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and Ebola to Mali and the Central African Republic, the Security Council must meet its responsibilities by uniting to meet common threats. All members of the Council have an obligation to meet the expectations of those who have entrusted them with these critical responsibilities.”

U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) called Venezuela’s election “farcical.”

“At every step – whether it is respect for its own people or support for international stability – Venezuela falls short,” he said. “It is deeply disappointing that Latin American countries decided to put forward a single country from their region for this rotational seat. This sends the wrong signal not only to Venezuelans – but to all in the region who hope to live under the rule of law where their human rights are protected.”

U.N. Watch, a human rights advocacy group that recently brought Venezuelan dissidents to testify before the U.N. Human Rights Council, decried the fact so many democracies had evidently voted in favor of Venezuela.

“It’s an outrage that at least 16 of 28 E.U. states today empowered and legitimized a repressive government that openly sides with the murderous Syrian regime,” said executive director Hillel Neuer.

“Under the U.N. Charter, candidates to the Security Council must be those who have contributed to international peace and security,” he said.

“Yet Venezuela is notorious as the only country at the UN Human Rights Council last year to vote against holding Syria accountable, effectively backing its mass murder of 200,000 people. So the E.U. knows exactly what Venezuela will do with its U.N. vote.”

See earlier story:

Obama Administration Stands By As Anti-U.S. Venezuela Poised to Join U.N. Security Council

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