Sunday, July 16, 2017

UN Human Rights expert in Cuba exposes systemic failure of the UN Human Rights Council

Human rights crises in Cuba and Venezuela and the failure of UN Human Rights experts. The case for removing outlaw regimes from the UN Human Rights Council.

UN expert didn't meet with human rights defenders but did meet Cuban spy
 The visit to Cuba of Virginia B. Dandan, the United Nations "independent" expert on human rights and international solidarity serves as evidence that the argument made by some that having repressive governments on the UN Human Rights Council would lead those regimes to improve their behavior is disastrously false.

On the contrary it has led to the gutting of international human rights standards and hobbled independent UN officials with a Code of Conduct in 2007 that provides leverage to outlaw regimes in the UN Human Rights Council.  On March 28, 2008 the Castro regime’s delegation together with the Organization of Islamic Congress (OIC) successfully passed resolutions undermining international freedom of expression standards at the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

Leading to the spectacle of a human rights expert who visits a totalitarian dictatorship and at a press conference states: "I do not know what you mean by opposition. I honestly do not know who is in the opposition." This led an opposition publication to publish an oped titled: "Virginia Dandan, the expert who does not ask questions."

Ms. Dandan claimed that such questions were outside of the scope of her mandate.  The human rights expert than explained what she was going to do during her visit: "I am in Cuba with the purpose of observing the activities of international solidarity of the Government and the international organizations with headquarters here." Recognizing that the focus is on what the Cuban government is doing in other countries under the auspices of "international solidarity" and that this expert recognizes that human rights conventions should be respected within that context, the question of Venezuela immediately arises to any casual observer of events there. The following tweet was sent to Ms. Dandan while still on her visit to Cuba.

Although the United Nations Human Rights Council has remained silent on the developing human rights crisis in the South American nation. The role of Cuban government agents training and assisting repressive forces, including paramilitary groups, involved in torture and the murder of students has been well documented and led to widespread revulsion in the Venezuelan populace. The New Yorker in November of 2016 reported:
"After Chávez barely survived a 2002 coup attempt, the Cubans also sent teams of military and intelligence advisers who taught their Venezuelan counterparts how to surveil and disrupt the political opposition Cuban-style, with close monitoring, harassment, and strategic arrests."
More ominously was the appearance of Commander Ramiro Valdez, the architect of Cuba's police state, in Venezuela in 2010.

Architect of Cuba's police state Ramiro Valdez with Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro
Estimates place the number of Cubans in Venezuela at 210,000  According to a 2014 article in The Guardian: "Cubans have computerized Venezuela's public records, giving them control over the issue of identity papers and voter registration. They have representatives in the ports and airports, as well as supervising foreign nationals." In short, Venezuela is Cuban occupied territory and under the control of the Castro regime. Young Venezuelans are being gunned down in an effort to impose control through terror.

Young Venezuelans gunned down by Maduro's Cuban trained repressors
The United Nations Human Rights Council has failed to address the disaster unfolding in Venezuela and the role the Cuban government has played in that human rights crisis. Nevertheless this is not an argument for withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, but to fully engage diplomatically while making it clear that funding will be cut back for failing to live up to established standards.

Countries that have decent human rights records need to hold the UN Human Rights Council and office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights accountable. Human rights have been in decline for over a decade with disastrous consequences. To turn that around drastic measures are needed.
Furthermore conservatives need to return to the conversation and the battle of ideas.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher schooled the French on human rights and didn't allow Bastille Day celebrations off the hook by reminding all of The Terror that came with it in the French Revolution.
At the same time she reminded the world of Magna Carta, British liberties and the full breadth of history regarding human rights. Margaret Thatcher on page 249 of her book State Craft could not have stated it more clearly.
 “Conservatives have excellent credentials to speak about human rights. By our efforts, and with precious little help from self-styled liberals, we were largely responsible for securing liberty for a substantial share of the world’s population and defending it for most of the rest.”  
Conservatives need to carry on this legacy today and not cede human rights to those that all too often were its historic enemies. At the same time Virginia B. Dandan, the United Nations "independent" expert on human rights and international solidarity should do her job and question the Cuban government's involvement in getting scores of young Venezuelans killed by repressive forces they have trained. This sort of "international solidarity" needs to be called out and denounced.

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