Press release

Venezuela Does Not Belong on the UN Human Rights Council

Venezuela's human rights abuses should make the country ineligible for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.


In response to the UN General Assembly’s vote to grant Venezuela a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed in the General Assembly’s vote to approve Venezuela as a member of the Human Rights Council—a decision that rewards egregious human rights violations and legitimizes abuses of power,” said Deborah Ullmer, director of Latin America and Caribbean programs at Freedom House. “Council membership is intended for countries that ‘uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.’ Venezuela clearly fails to meet that requirement. Its presence will undermine the council’s integrity and hamstring efforts both to alleviate suffering in Venezuela itself and to hold the Maduro regime and the world’s other abusive governments accountable for their actions. Council members must prevent Venezuela from using its new seat to sabotage the approved Fact-Finding Mission that will investigate human rights abuses in the country.”


On October 17, Venezuela won one of two open seats on the UN Human Rights Council that were set aside for the Latin America and Caribbean region, with Brazil receiving the other. Venezuela and Brazil had initially run unopposed. On October 3, however, Costa Rica announced that it would compete for one of the seats, offering a democratic alternative to Venezuela, whose poor human rights record had prompted a campaign by civil society groups against its candidacy. According to a UN report released in July 2019, at least 6,856 Venezuelans have been killed in alleged confrontations with state forces since the beginning of 2018. Nearly 800 people remained in arbitrary detention as May 2019. Nevertheless, Venezuela ultimately defeated Costa Rica in the UN vote, 105 to 96. The 193-member General Assembly elected a total of 14 new members to the 47-member Human Rights Council, and their three-year terms will begin in January 2020.

Venezuela is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2018