Our original intent was to track and hold accountable Latin American and Caribbean governments in what we detected was a troubling trend: the reluctance of then-governments in Brazil, Argentina and many Caribbean nations to speak out in favor of human rights and democratic norms in global and regional bodies and in many cases vote against them, often in alliance with China and Russia. At the same time, governments in Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador were actively seeking to undermine democratic norms and defend and bolster their human-rights-abusing allies globally.
Our first report was titled “Liberals, Rogues and Enablers.” Since then, one thing is clear: while the number of “enablers” in the Western Hemisphere may have shrunk, those who count themselves among the “liberals” has shrunk as well.
But there are bright spots. As this report details, countries like Mexico, Argentina and Chile have stepped up in the Organization of American States (OAS) to raise their voices about violations of democratic norms in Venezuela. For now, the votes—as we detail—have not produced concrete actions by the OAS (in part due to Venezuela’s impetuous decision to take its marbles and go home rather than belong to a multilateral body that would deign to criticize it). Nevertheless, the once common belief that the ring of Venezuela’s patronage allies would always support the rogue government has been disproven.
Yet, there are serious questions. Why does the Dominican Republic, a member of the U.S. trade bloc CAFTA-DR continue to remain loyal to its human-rights-abusing semi-Caribbean brother, especially since the current government in the Dominican Republic wouldn’t be in power if it had not been for an international enforcement of electoral standards in 1994.
Our report also sets out a series of ways that the U.S., with its allies, can reform the UN Human Rights Council (p. 4) without the nuclear option of pulling out altogether. Such a move would effectively hand the keys to the castle to the most abusive regimes. In that scenario no one wins; and citizens and human rights lose.
For the first time too we track the quality of the nominations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as a measure of a state’s commitment to the liberal human rights system. Spoiler alert: Argentina and Mexico—which do so well in other measurements—do not perform well in this area.
Last, in this report we look at Latin American and Caribbean states’ compliance with the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO 169) and international norms defining and punishing femicide. Surprisingly, despite the pro-indigenous platforms of governments in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, it has been the neo-liberal governments in Chile, Colombia and Peru that have made the greatest progress in protecting indigenous communities’ rights. And Argentina and Brazil, formerly under progressive leftist governments, have been laggards.
We conclude with a series of proposals for reforming and strengthening international and regional human rights bodies and international norms.