In the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council that ended last week, not a single country spoke out when shameless propaganda for Venezuela’s Maduro regime was legitimized on September 10th in the presentation of an official expert report, written by Alfred de Zayas, who recently completed a six-year term as the Council’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.”
As UN Watch warned during de Zayas’ visit to Venezuela, when he posted propaganda photos pretending that starving Venezuelans actually had an abundance of food, his outcome report is a complete whitewash of Maduro’s crimes, where the term “political prisoner” appears nowhere, and where dissident heroes like Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma are condemned as warmongers.
#Deleted: after UN Watch exposed the propaganda photos posted by @UN official Alfred de Zayas—portraying Venezuela as overflowing with food, when in fact millions are suffering from hunger—he removed the entire page: https://t.co/EHW5ZC32Ey
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) December 2, 2017
Per Mr. de Zayas, who are the guilty ones in Venezuela? Everyone but the Maduro regime:
…the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, transnational corporations and some lobbies like the military-industrial-financial complex. These actors often wield more influence than States. Moreover, the national and international economic orders are distorted by bilateral investment treaties, free trade agreements, credit rating agencies, vulture funds, boycotts and unilateral coercive measures, which have often resulted in the suffering of billions of individuals.
What about the regime? He gives Maduro a free pass, because, in his words, it’s a “democratically elected government”:
Democratically elected governments possess legitimacy and only they can effectively protect the human rights of persons under their jurisdiction and implement change. Recognizing that in every government there are good and less good politicians, what is important is to persuade them that it is in their interest to adopt measures that will enhance the enjoyment of human rights.
What is the solution to Venezuela’s catastrophe?
The solution to the Venezuelan “crisis” lies in good faith negotiations between the Government and the opposition, an end to the economic war, and the lifting of sanctions. In pursuance of the principle of international solidarity (see A/HRC/35/35), United Nations agencies should provide advisory services and technical assistance to the Government.
He also wants Venezuela to “strengthen South-South cooperation, including with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Union of South American Nations, SELA and CELAC.”
Even as the OAS has referred Venezuela to the ICC for possible crimes against humanity, Mr. de Zayas seeks to blame Western countries, and he calls for the General Assembly to:
Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice:
- Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law?
- Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions?
- Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes?
Moreover, he calls for the UNGA to adopt a resolution “along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law.
In addition, he would have the UNGA create “a consolidated central register of unilateral coercive measures likely to have a human rights impact, to be maintained and updated by the Secretary-General.”
He then calls on the the International Criminal Court to “investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.” He goes on:
The examination should not only be quantitative, but should determine whether, objectively treated, economic war, embargoes, financial blockades and sanctions regimes amount to geopolitical crimes and crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.
The Independent Expert recommends that the meeting of States parties to the Rome Statute continue the normative work on the Rome Statute and recognize geopolitical crimes, including unilateral coercive measures and currency manipulations that induce hyperinflation, as within the scope of Article 7 of the Statute. Normative clarity has significant pedagogical value.
Finally, de Zayas levels several attacks on UN Watch for having called out his propaganda:
An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017.128 Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures. The idea that an independent expert should think independently and weigh evidence does not seem to have occurred to some critics, for whom human rights are weapons of demonization, not only against governments, but also against experts.
He names overt apologists for the Qaddafi, Assad, Castro and Hamas regimes who were appointed as UN experts, and held to account by UN Watch:
Many experts have endured mobbing, including John Dugard, Jean Ziegler, Idriss Jazairy, Richard Falk, Olivier de Schutter, William Schabas and Michael Lynk. Even Virginia Dandan, long-time Chair of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, was ridiculed by an NGO [he cites UN Watch in a footnote] because of her press release on her mission to Cuba (A/HRC/38/40/Add.1).
Venezuela’s Endorses Report, Attacks UN Watch
In an official written response, Venezuela hailed de Zayas’ report:
The Venezuelan Government appreciates the visit of the Independent Expert to the country, and considers that it had a very positive impact, both internally and internationally, in terms of helping to translate the true reality of the country and, consequently, to counteract the negative and intense international media campaign unleashed against Venezuela, for the benefit of powerful and obscure interests. In this regard, we appreciate the serious and professional work, in addition to the constructive approach in which the visit of the Independent Expert was carried out.
Venezuela also accused UN Watch of “intimidation and attacks” for calling out his propaganda:
The Venezuelan Government regrets and condemns the acts of intimidation and attacks perpetrated against the Independent Expert before and after his visit to Venezuela by extremists enemies of peace and freedom that through digital media and social networks incited hatred, portraying a completely unacceptable intolerance.