Venezuela: UN Must Avoid ‘Political Instrumentalization’ of Human Rights

Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez warned that there was a “hidden agenda” aimed at justifying an intervention in the South American country.

Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez sits in front of the Venezuelan and UN flags
Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group via video.

Mexico City, Mexico, January 26, 2022 ( – Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez called on United Nations (UN) Member States to abstain from using the human rights system for political ends.

“We must avoid, at all costs, the political instrumentalization of the human rights system,” Rodríguez told the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group on Tuesday.

The Universal Periodic Review is a regular evaluation of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States where representatives are asked to provide an update on their country’s efforts to uphold human rights and implement recommendations from previous reviews. This is Venezuela’s third review, with previous ones taking place in October 2011 and November 2016.

In her videoconference address, Rodríguez warned about a “hidden agenda” behind efforts to politicize the human rights system, which was aimed at justifying an intervention in the South American country.

Rodríguez made note of the fact that this latest review was taking place under the context of “failed assassination attempts, mercenary invasions, the sabotage of critical infrastructure” as well as increasing unilateral coercive measures against the Caribbean nation.

Consequently, the vice-president denounced the “criminal blockade” imposed on Venezuela through US-led economic and political sanctions that have impeded the country’s ability to meet its human rights obligations.

Rodríguez said Member States should work to lift “unilateral coercive measures on all those countries that are victims of these illicit and illegal sanctions that constitute a true weapon of mass destruction against the entire human rights system.”

The Venezuelan vice-president specifically criticized the participation of the United States and the United Kingdom in the review, countries that have imposed measures that Venezuela and UN experts consider to run afoul of international law.

Rodríguez said that despite the obstacles created by unilateral coercive measures, Venezuela had made progress in its efforts to guarantee the population’s human rights, highlighting the country’s success in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Venezuela can give certainty that it has set an example in contrast to the capitalist model of privatized health care, Venezuela can give certainty that the free and universal care system has been a success in handling the pandemic,” said Rodríguez.

The vice-president also took the opportunity to criticize inequality between the Global North and South, pointing to the disparity in vaccination rates, as well as the tendency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute cases from countries in the Global South.

Venezuela recently signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate cooperation after chief ICC prosecutor Karim Khan decided to open a full-scale investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Venezuela. The country has a second case at the ICC after the Nicolás Maduro government asked the court to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed by the US government against Venezuela through the use of unilateral coercive measures.

The presentation by Venezuela was followed by comments from members of the Working Group, with Syria, China and Cuba calling for an end to US-led sanctions. Meanwhile, representatives from countries such as Brazil and Colombia called on Caracas to comply with recommendations presented by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

Venezuela’s review comes as the country seeks to deepen cooperation with the UN. Rodríguez and Foreign Minister Félix Placencia met with United Nations Resident Coordinator in Venezuela Gianluca Rampolla last week.

Plasencia likewise put the spotlight on US-led sanctions this week, telling reporters that the measures have negatively affected the country’s ability to meet its financial commitments to the UN, resulting in a temporary suspension of voting rights.

Venezuela has worked closely with UN-affiliated bodies in recent years, including UNICEF and UNESCO, as well as receiving support from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Caracas also secured some 12 million Covid-19 vaccines through the Gavi, WHO and CEPI co-led COVAX mechanism despite delays caused by financial sanctions.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.