The United Nations Security Council will meet this afternoon to discuss Venezuela. Unlike the more democratic and universal General Assembly, the Security Council has a very specific mandate and limited membership (the General Assembly elects 10 non-permanent members for a two-year term) as well as an exceptional enforcement mechanism for its decisions. Its 15 members, including the permanent 5, with capacity to block any decision a veto power have a responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.

While the work of the UNSC revolves around an agreed agenda of issues, there are procedural exceptions for certain situations. Created by former Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.N. Diego Arria in the context of the Balkan Wars, the Arria Formula is a mechanism by which individuals, organizations or institutions are heard by the Council in an informal setting, given how their responsibilities and/or influence can contribute “to a better understanding of the situation under consideration.” This is the modality the Council will use to examine the issue of Venezuela.

Little did Arria know in 1992, when he came up with this idea, that one day it would be used to examine his own country.

The Council will hear presentations by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, and representatives from Caritas International and Foro Penal.

The fact that the meeting is exceptional means that Venezuela is still not considered a threat to international peace and security. Not yet. But the fact that it’s being considered at all, really matters especially given how bureaucratic and slow the UN can be at times. Today’s meeting will transcend what would normally be expected of Security Council treatment: it’s not only hard politics, also the humanitarian and social crises in Venezuela will be discussed.

The idea that the country and its dire humanitarian situation cannot wait for a political resolution seems to have finally sunk in.

The meeting has been framed from a preventive angle, in which inaction might result in worsening violence and severe socioeconomic consequences, particularly in the coming months. The idea that the country and its dire humanitarian situation cannot wait for a political resolution seems to have finally sunk in. Countries in the region, from Brazil to Aruba, and from Colombia to Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the United States and Canada, are feeling the effects of the crisis in a variety of ways, so addressing it collectively, along with Venezuela’s potential to destabilize the region, is a sensible way to go.

I have personally been against the UN dealing with Venezuela for reasons I explained in this post (mainly the fact that Maduro still has the capacity to pull some strings and get the votes he needs where they’re required). But this new approach, while it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of voting someday, certainly opens a new alternative, albeit still remote, for the UN to act on the much needed humanitarian front of our crisis. The Latin American and Caribbean regional group (GRULAC) has also been reluctant to accept the Security Council’s help in the Venezuelan issue, but it looks like there has been a shift since the last Lima Group meeting in October, when the declaration adopted back then acknowledged the worsening food and health crisis, requesting the UN Secretary General to address it. There is an understanding that the potential for Venezuela to become a failed State, unable to meet the most basic needs of its population, is enormous.

Since this isn’t a formal meeting, it isn’t expected to have a formal declaration, binding resolution or any other document with legal status after it wraps up. But perhaps some sort of follow up mechanism emerges from it. It’s a first step towards addressing Venezuela’s multi-dimensionsional conundrum, putting the focus on the one thing that’s causing so much death and suffering.

21 COMMENTS

  1. As I understand, China and Russia can’t veto it at this stage? I feel like no political or international solution can come while two superpowers still support the regime.

  2. It is good that Venezuela is on the Security Council agenda, but beyond that nothing is likely to happen.

    A UN police action is required but any such proposal will certainly be vetoed.

    The UN Security council might pass on its concerns to the UN Human Rights Council, where they will be evaluated by Burundi, Egypt, Rwanda, Cuba, VENEZUELA, China, India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – all well qualified to pass judgement in such matters. The UN has become a joke.

  3. Agree with Luisa here, but I’d be even less optimistic by saying that the UN has become a dysfunctional body and nothing substantial let alone fast will come out of them.
    The UN has the Palermo Protocol that could be applied in the case of Vzla, but they wont.

    Many respected leaders of the opposition like Pedro Burelli, Gilberto Carrasquero, Adriana Vigilanza, etc have come to the conclusion that the Venezuelan problem could only be solved by foreign military intervention and occupation at this point.
    That is the subject CC should be touching on, at least once!

    Currently there is an online petition to the White House to Intervene Militarily but apparently there are not 100k Venezuelans or Cubans in the US supporting that idea with less than 2% of the needed signatures so far.
    Venezuela will remain a failed state for years to come…

    • I would agree, that the UN is entirely dysfunctional. I really don’t know what they do well, other than redistribute money from those nations (err… taxpayers) that earn it to those deemed “in need”.

      The world certainly isn’t safer.

      Don’t count on US military action. If Venezuelans don’t want to rise up on their own, why should the US sacrifice their blood to do what Venezuela won’t do for itself?

      • Well, Venezuela already rose up back in 2002 to oust Chavez to avoid this catastrophe.
        They did it again in 2014 and this year for 4 straight months.
        Unfortunately, you can’t rise up and defeat the oppressor when you don’t have the arms.
        Ask North Koreans !

        Elguapo, we live in an interconnected world where the stability is not confined to your own borders. This is why the US is not discarding a military intervention as ultimate solution to stabilize the region, and I’d go even further and invade Cuba as well.

        But I’d agree with you in one thing. If not even Venezuelans support such aid/intervention, then I’d say, let ’em die.

        • “Unfortunately, you can’t rise up and defeat the oppressor when you don’t have the arms”

          Mate I’m sick and tired reading that same statement of yours. How many AK47 do you need, I’ll get you a quote within 24 hrs in dollars!!! And I’m not talking a couple of hundred rifles, I’m talking containers full, brand spanking new, never before used, including 2 clips and 2000 bullets fucking quot. You show me you have the funds and I’ll bloody well hook you up mate!!!! Venezuela is filled to the rim with weapons so please stop stating that there are no guns available for those who want to start a civil war bcuz that’s just plain BS

          • Joseph Humire (Hemispohere Security analyst) predicted that the 2017 street unrest wouln’t break the regime because Venezuela is a regional issue, not an internal one. This is a conflict with external actors that threaten the region. Some people need to understand that there is no solution until Cuba, Iran, Russia, China and the international drug cartels stop meddling in the country.
            An untrained armed militia against the regime with that support will end up in a massacre and will take years to reach peace. Check what happened in Central America during the cold war. This is why a military coalition headed by the US would be the best approach.
            Check this interview from an ex-CIA director of why this is the case.
            https://www.thecipherbrief.com/podcasts/pedro-burelli-whats-behind-crisis-venezuela

  4. Ha! The UN…The UN lost all credibility when it wasn’t able to stop Bush from invading Iraq. Esta pintada en la pared.

    And when it comes to Arria, you could have made the effort to go back in history a bit further. Why stop in 1992? It would have helped less knowledgeable readers to put things into context. Specially back to 1975, when Pedro Duno wrote Los Doce Apostoles, a group to which Arria belonged to and which contributed to the political and social degradation of the nation. Just a thought…

    • Venny are you still bent on convincing us of your troll status ??………stick to the venny bonds subject and how they can never default ………!! One thing is to stop a first world power from going after its enemies quite another to stop the world from continuing to dump on the garbage regime that now rules us , why do you need to defend them …try not being so obvious!!

    • What is your point exactly?

      Yes, the UN has lost some of its credibility…. and?

      The point is our goal is to make the dictatorship be officially recognized as so at the UN.

      If you have a better suggestion on how best to proceed by all means do share.

    • Albeit the point of Diego Arria is out of the current context…SPOT ON my friendo. We ought to remind the population who and how actually brought Chavez to our lives.

      I still remembering some people around here cheering for Allup reloADed. Short memories abound.

      • Well, all I get is bla bla but no one except for Colomine addresses the issue I raised: Diego Arria and the lack of credibility that is stuck to him like a trailer caravan is tied to a truck. The point is that nothing planned and executed by someone like Diego Arria can yield any positive result. Punto.

  5. Even if it is true that Russia might veto any kind of concrete resolution, shouldn’t we at least get there first?

    The more they veto the more they will feel pressured not to veto come next Venezuelan related resolutions.

    • Free Speech,

      It is just the opposite. The more Russia vetoes, the more complacent Russia becomes about vetoing the next motion. Why would Russia stop their vetos if it keeps Maduro kissing their butts?

      • Again. Let’s assume that’s true.

        We should at least try it. It’s not like CNE is counting these votes.

        My suspicion is that Russia would veto one, maybe twice. But at some point the pressure would be too much.

        If we don’t try we will never know

  6. Hard international actions against a rogue regime need a lot of preparation before they can be considered legitimate , this UN event is just one among many that are being heaped upon the Venezuelan regime to quash any claim it may make for its legitimacy , all main Latam govts , plus the EU , plus OAS , plus Unasur , plus the US , plus Canada , plus some very important UN bodies , plus a big chunk of world opinion now officially view the regime as totally undeserving of recognition or respect . Every event or measure or accusation adds up to an absolute loss of credibility that in time will allow for some measures that really bite on the international front.

    Lets not expect anything substantive from this meeting , the mere fact that it happens detracts from the regimes image in the world ……… !! You can tell how much the regimes image has worsened by comparing the travels they now make vs those they made in the past and the subdued almost clandestine treatment those visits now recieve……in the few countries that now host their visits.

  7. Of course it’s complicated, but isn’t Russia being pushed to the point where they need a functioning VZ in order to eventually get paid? And where their vote(s) will reflect this new reality?

    Like, won’t financial common sense prevail over ideological Cold War annoyance tactics that won’t really help the Russians anyway?

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