Media Statement

28 February 2019

South Africa reaffirms support for inclusive, political dialogue in Venezuela at the UN Security Council

The UN Security Council voted today, Thursday, 28 February 2019, on two divergent resolutions on the situation in Venezuela presented by the United States of America (USA) and the Russian Federation.

This was unfortunate as South Africa believes that the Security Council should be unified in its approach to supporting the people of Venezuela in finding a solution to the crisis. As members of the Security Council we should speak with one voice in assisting the Venezuelan people in weathering the humanitarian challenges faced because of the political and economic difficulties in their country.

South Africa reiterated its view that inclusive political dialogue is necessary to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela and expressed concern at the serious humanitarian situation in the country. In this regard, South Africa supports the efforts by the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the hardships experienced by the people of Venezuela.

South Africa also stressed that a Council resolution on the situation in Venezuela should facilitate the provision of international assistance based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and based on a thorough and accurate needs assessment. Thus, the provision of aid should be depoliticised and meet the needs of the Venezuelan people.

Having considered both resolutions, South Africa could not support in the US resolution as it reflected a serious bias and partiality which goes against South Africa’s Constitution and foreign policy, as well as the letter and spirit of the Charter of the United Nations.

There are three elements in the US resolution that are antithetical to the principles and values that underpin South Africa’s democratic dispensation and its foreign policy.

Firstly, the resolution refers to the Venezuelan National Assembly’s authority to release political prisoners and grant amnesty. South Africa views this as tantamount to the National Assembly usurping the authority of the Executive. This is in violation of the principle of the separation of powers on which the South African Constitution is predicated. Therefore, South Africa could not support, at the international level, the violation of this universal, sacrosanct and inviolable principle that underpins the governance of the modern state.

Secondly, South Africa could not support a reference in the US resolution expressing deep concern that the Venezuelan presidential elections of May 20, 2018 were neither free nor fair. President Nicolas Maduro was re-elected by a wide margin, garnering over 5.8 million votes according to the National Electoral Council (CNE).

South Africa respects the authority of the CNE as the constitutionally mandated body that is charged with the management of the electoral process in Venezuela. This body declared President Maduro the winner and this should be respected. This is the basis on which President Maduro enjoys legitimacy and international recognition.

Thirdly, the US resolution is partisan and biased as it stresses the importance of only ensuring the security of the members of the National Assembly, and members of the political opposition. A UN resolution cannot stress the security of a certain sector to the exclusion of others. As an impartial body, the UN should insist on the security of all Venezuelans.

The Russian resolution, however, was a reaffirmation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations on the peaceful settlements of international disputes, as well as the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence for the provision of humanitarian assistance. On this basis, South Africa voted in favour of the Russian resolution.

South Africa encourages that any further action by the Security Council be guided by the genuine process to maintain international peace and security and promote unity of purpose in this regard.

Enquiries: Mr Ndivhuwo Mabaya, [email protected] / 083 645 7838

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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