Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro leaves U.N. Human Rights Council

Rights activists hail Venezuela’s departure from UN Human Rights Council

Rights groups hailed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s decision to leave the U.N. Human Rights Council after nearly a decade of service, saying it will give the government more room to push human rights concerns.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself president on Jan. 23. Guaido declared three months of national emergency on Feb. 7, in the latest sign of his power to bypass the traditional system of checks and balances of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The announcement set off a series of demonstrations in which scores of protesters were arrested, and on which the government called in military forces.

Venezuelan envoy to the U.N., Pablo Alfonso de Borja, announced Maduro’s decision on Twitter Wednesday: “The decision taken today to leave the Human Rights Council is a political decision that should be respected by all the council’s members.”

Maduro, who has been the leader of Venezuela since 2013, said in his post that he was leaving the United Nations “with great dignity and grace.”

“I take this step with great pride and honor that the people of the world will remember it in their time of struggle,” he wrote, adding, in Spanish, “To the people of the Council, to whom I leave the great honor of being one of its presidents over the last 10 years, I thank you.”

The announcement means Maduro’s tenure on the council ran from 2010 to this year, and he had served on the commission since 2008. The council, with 47 nations and independent observers, is charged with promoting human rights and helping to address those in conflict around the world.

The move followed two months of U.N. condemnation of Venezuela’s socialist government, which has been widely accused of human rights abuses.

The U.N. Human Rights Council said earlier this month that it had decided to suspend Venezuela’s membership, citing “serious concerns about the state of human rights in Venezuela.”

The council also called on Venezuela to uphold its human rights obligations under international law, to end all arbitrary detention and use of force against protesters, and to

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