(AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Anti-Israel protest in Venezuela

Israel’s ambassador criticized the election of Venezuela, a dictatorship and ally of Iran, to the UN Human Rights Council. The UNHRC unfairly condemns Israel in nearly 40% of its country-specific resolutions.

Presidents meet in Tehran

Venezuela’s President Maduro and Iran’s President Rouhani. (AP/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno)

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday elected 18 new members to the Human Rights Council, among them notorious violators of human rights, including Venezuela. The UNHRC has a long history of ignoring systematic abusers of human rights and singling out Israel for condemnation.

“We must remember this day the next time the UN condemns Israel,” said Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon following the vote. “When a country like Venezuela, which suppresses its own people, forbids freedom of the press and detains members of the opposition, becomes a member of the Human Rights Council, it comes as no surprise that this council condemns Israel more than any other country in the world.”

Danon noted that Venezuela is a major ally of Iran and North Korea. Nearly 40% of the UNHRC’s country-specific resolutions target Israel, and Israel is the only country in the world to have its own agenda item at UNHRC sessions.

UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council. (AP/Martial Trazzini)

US Ambassador Samantha Power also expressed reservations about Venezuela’s election to the council. “Unfortunately, Venezuela’s conduct at the UN has run counter to the spirit of the UN Charter and its violations of human rights at home are at odds with the Charter’s letter,” she said.

A number of other human rights violators were elected to the council yesterday, including: the United Arab Emirates, which consistently violates the rights of foreign workers and responded to the Arab Spring with forced disappearances of dissidents; Kyrgyzstan, which conducted sweeping arrests of Uzbek minority leaders in 2010 and recently banned gay rights activism; and Togo, where the president for the past decade is the son of the previous president, who ruled for 38 years.

Current and recent members of the UNHRC also include Saudi Arabia, China, Libya, and Cuba.