Voting record of resolution on Venezuela at the UN Human Rights Council. Geneva, September 27, 2018.

© Human Rights Watch
 (Geneva) – The United Nations Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution on Venezuela on September 27, 2018 signals the growing concern by governments worldwide about the country’s human rights and humanitarian crisis, Human Rights Watch said today. The Human Rights Council is the main intergovernmental body within the UN system responsible for addressing human rights violations.

The resolution expresses deep concern about human rights violations in Venezuela. It says that the Venezuelan government should open its doors to humanitarian assistance to address “scarcity of food and medicine, the rise of malnutrition” and “the outbreak of diseases that had been previously eradicated or kept under control in South America.” It also asks the UN high commissioner for human rights to present a comprehensive report on the situation in Venezuela during the June 2019 council session, and oral updates during the March and September sessions.

“The Human Rights Council’s landmark resolution on Venezuela marks a turning point for the Venezuelan people, shining a spotlight on the country’s human rights and humanitarian crisis,” said John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch. “The adoption of the resolution with a strong margin of support will enable the Human Rights Council to bring to light the tragedy unfolding in Venezuela and to press the Maduro government to address the abuses and humanitarian crisis it is responsible for.”

The resolution passed by a vote of 23 to 7, with 17 abstaining. Delegations from every continent supported the resolution.

The resolution was presented by 11 governments in the Americas – Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru – that have been playing a leading role putting Venezuela on the Human Rights Council’s agenda. More than 40 UN member states cosponsored it.  

In June, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report detailing violations, including arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings, torture, and a brutal crackdown on dissent. The absence of independent democratic institutions has led to a culture of complete impunity within the government. 

During her opening statement to the current council session, the newly appointed high commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, said that since the report’s publication, the office had continued to receive information on human rights abuses ranging from deaths related to malnutrition or preventable diseases, to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and restrictions to freedom of expression. She urged the council to take all available measures to address human rights violations in Venezuela.