Over the past thirty years, Human Rights Watch has become one of the most recognized non-governmental organizations in the world due to its global promotion of human rights. But despite its claims to be an advocate of international human rights law, the reports issued by Human Rights Watch have exhibited a bias towards certain rights over others. More precisely, Human Rights Watch repeatedly focuses on political and civil rights while ignoring social and economic rights. As a result, it routinely judges nations throughout the world in a manner that furthers capitalist values and discredits governments seeking socialist alternatives. It is this bias that lies at the root of Human Rights Watch’s scathing attacks on Venezuela, or what the organization’s executive director Ken Roth called, “the most abusive nation” in Latin America.
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According to the Bush administration, it is Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s desire to purchase weapons from Russia that threatens to destabilize the Andean region, not the $3 billion in military aid that Washington has provided to Colombia over the past five years. Likewise, in the Middle East, it is Syria’s efforts to obtain purely defensive anti-aircraft missiles that pose a threat to that region, not the $1 billion a year in U.S. military aid to Israel. And on the nuclear front, while there is no evidence that Iran is intending to build nuclear weapons, it is the regime in Tehran that is threatening to further destabilize the region, not President Bush’s apparent pledge to support any future Israeli attack against Iran. Meanwhile, North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in order to develop nuclear weapons makes the Asian nation a “rogue state,” but Washington’s abandonment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) to build its missile defense system, which could lead to the weaponization of space, apparently does not justify the same anti-multilateralist label being applied to the United States.