SA: UN members should respect Venezuela sovereignty

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The threat by some UN member states to use force on the territorial integrity and political independence of Venezuela is inconsistent with the mission of maintaining international peace and security among nations, South Africa has argued.

“The United Nations Security Council is the principle organ charged with maintaining international peace and security. Yet today we are witnessing the council divided on the internal affairs of a fellow member State, with some even threatening to use force against the territorial integrity and political independence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a fellow member of the United Nations,” said South Africa’s UN Ambassador in the Security Council, Jerry Matjila, in his address at the open briefing of the UN Security Council.

The threat of force, Matjila said, would set a bad precedent.

“We, on the African continent, have suffered a great deal as external forces used undemocratic tools of regime change to solve problems on the continent. In principle, we are strongly opposed to this way of solving any problem. This approach takes away the basic rights of the people of the country to determine their own future.”

Matjila reiterated South Africa’s view that the people of Venezuela should decide their future.

“All that we can do is to help them, but the decision remains theirs. We recognise the democratic processes followed by Venezuela in choosing a President, but we also recognise that Venezuela is currently facing humanitarian challenges. 

“South Africa draws from its experience in overcoming one of the most repressive and insidious racist regimes through dialogue and believes that internal, inclusive dialogue remains the only viable and sustainable path to ending the political crisis in Venezuela.

“Political dialogue should seem obvious and the first logical port of call, yet the actions of some in the international community have not been conducive and encouraging to this approach. Isolating and vilifying one party, and calling for a specific prescribed course of action which would preclude dialogue will only foment possible recourse to armed conflict. I reiterate, this is inconsistent with the purpose of the UN Security Council.”

While South Africa does not believe that the situation in Venezuela poses a threat to international peace and security, Pretoria is concerned about the humanitarian crisis in the South American state.

“We are alarmed at the unrest and loss of life that has taken place over the past weekend. Instead of assisting the people of Venezuela, the politicisation and indeed weaponisation of humanitarian assistance has served to aggravate tensions in Venezuela that can only lead to violence and confrontation. 

“It is of utmost importance that support to the people of Venezuela does not serve as a focal point for increased tensions, antagonisms or become a tool in the political dispute that is being coaxed on by external actors,” Matjila said.

Matjila said Pretoria believes that humanitarian aid should not be used for the political ends of parties to the crisis, but should be delivered through the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to ensure its neutrality and impartiality. 

“This council cannot predetermine the will of the people of Venezuela. Therefore, the international community should promote a framework of inclusive internal dialogue in order for the people of Venezuela to determine their own destiny,” he said. –