Mishandling the Venezuelan conflict


When the UN Security Council met on Saturday to consider the US request for a formal meeting on the evolving situation in Venezuela and requesting the council’s endorsement of Juan Guaido, the opposition leader in the country, as the interim president instead of the incumbent elected president Nicolas Maduro, it opened Pandora’s box on the jurisdiction and prerogatives of the council itself.

There is no doubt that Venezuela is in complete chaos, its economy collapsing, has a runaway inflation, hunger is widespread, unemployment is skyrocketing and millions of the country’s population are fleeing their homeland in search for safety and security. Yet, can all these alarming considerations combined constitute a determining factor for applying the council’s jurisdiction over this domestic situation!

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the US’ case when he insisted that the council should be seized with the alarming and deteriorating “domestic” situation Venezuela, and even went further by publicly calling for the recognition of Guaido as the interim president.

Russia, China and other nations voiced their opposition to even the councils’ jurisdiction over Venezuela on the ground that the case remains a domestic conflict that does not call for an international intervention. At the end of the initial debate on the issue of jurisdiction, the US position in favour of applying the council’s jurisdiction, supported by Western members of the council, was accepted by nine votes against four, with the rest abstaining.

In retrospect, the case for applying the council’s jurisdiction over the deteriorating situation in Venezuela is persuasive and can be vindicated on the ground that, if left unchecked, the breakdown of law and order in the country would have not only domestic implications, but also regional and international ramifications.

When millions of citizens of the country rush to leave their homeland in search for food, safety and employment, then the conflict becomes a situation threatening peace and security beyond the borders of Venezuela. Yet, accepting the jurisdiction of the UN over the conflict in Venezuela is one thing, and interfering with domestic political order by favouring one political leader over another, without holding free and fair elections under UN supervision, is quite another.

In conclusion, yes to the jurisdiction of the UN over the conflict in Venezuela, but no to choosing the leader of the country without the consent of the people of Venezuela.



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