Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The OAS and Venezuela

At Venezuela Dialogues, a group of experts gives differing opinions about what the role of the OAS should be with regard to Venezuela. Rather than engage each argument, I think it's useful to step back and take a more philosophical perspective.

1. Should the OAS be "impartial" or "neutral"? This makes me uncomfortable. The OAS sent a delegation to Chile in 1974 and made a bunch of recommendations. That certainly wasn't neutral and I don't think anyone today would think it a problem.

2. Should both sides be equally criticized? This is similar to the question above. All things being equal, the state in any situation is far more powerful than civil society and so should be held to a much higher standard.

3. Should an OAS head (or the head of any international organization) be outspoken? I'm agnostic, but some of the authors correctly note that personalization of a conflict actually decreases the effectiveness and leverage of the organization.

4. Should we downplay criticism of human rights abuses in one country because other countries with abuses are not getting as much attention? No. I think all countries should be scrutinized, but that failure to scrutinize one should not detract from the serious nature of abuses elsewhere.


shah8 10:41 PM  

With regards to n. 4, I don't think "downplay" is the right word here. And it's hard to make up an yes-no statement for a question that's really more of an open-ended one.

And I think it's the most important one. Hypocrisy has undermined ability for external players to have a positive role, and I think, for example, the perceived silence on Brazil has played a key role in reducing the moral worth of protests against the situation in Venezuela.

Greg Weeks 5:04 PM  

Interesting point, though I don't fully agree. Before Brazil, there was always Saudi Arabia (I read this more times than I can count). Why criticize Cuba/Venezuela/Ecuador if we don't criticize the Saudis? But I do think the specific Brazil case is a good one precisely because it's in the region.

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