This January 25, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Venezuela took place, for which the
participation of 116 States had been announced.
As anticipated, the initial presentation of Venezuela, by Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, began
with a speech of victimization of the country due to the effects of unilateral coercive measures
(UCM), as an entry to justify the breach of its international obligations in human rights. humans.
As part of that polarized environment that surrounds the debates on Venezuela, two large blocks
could be observed in the Venezuela’s UPR. On the one hand, the countries sympathetic to the
Maduro regime, which didn’t spare congratulations for supposed achievements and formulated
generic recommendations that do not require major commitments, except for some surprising
exceptions that we will see later. On the other hand, the democratic countries committed to
human rights, some of which formulated strong criticism and made concrete and direct
recommendations to put an end to human rights violations in the country.
The countries committed to human rights endorsed many of the concerns and recommendations
that had been expressed by civil society organizations in their previous advocacy work, including
all the recommendations suggested by AlertaVenezuela.
Perhaps one of the most reiterated recommendations was the ratification of the Optional Protocol
to the Convention against Torture, and the International Convention for the Protection of All
Persons against Enforced Disappearances. In general, there was a wide range of recommendations
on the country’s further cooperation with the UN human rights system, the establishment of a
country office (supported even by Russia), and the acceptance of special procedures visits.
A second group of reiterated recommendations covered the reform of the judicial system to
ensure its independence, including the Public Ministry and the adaptation of the Ombudsman’s
Office to the Paris Principles.
The third area of frequent recommendations focused on freedom of expression and the protection
of civic space, including the safeguarding of defenders, journalists, activists, political activists, and
humanitarian workers, as well as respect for the right to free association and peaceful assembly,
free elections, and peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Lastly, there were also recurring recommendations regarding women’s rights, sexual and
reproductive health, gender-based violence, and human trafficking. It is noteworthy that the
development of a plan to prevent and combat human trafficking was a clamor that was heard
equally from countries of both blocs.
There were issues that were left out or were barely mentioned, such as the protection of the
environment, except for a couple of references to the Orinoco Mining Arc. Similarly, there were
quite a few general mentions to vulnerable groups, but without any specific references, except for
some allusions of the rights of children, people with disabilities, prisoners, and LGBT.
Recommendations on the rights of older persons, migrants and refugees, indigenous peoples, and
people with chronic illnesses were absent.
Although the complex humanitarian emergency was mentioned on several occasions, in general,
there were not many specific recommendations regarding the guarantee of economic, social and
Interestingly, several countries allied with Venezuela made recommendations regarding access to
food and medicine, but in such vague terms that it could be easy to claim compliance and thus
evade tangible responsibilities, to the extent that they are mediated by considerations about the
As soon as the US participation began, it was interrupted by Venezuela invoking a point of order. It
is noteworthy that the point of order was read, which means that it had been previously prepared
with the intention of interrupting the delegation regardless of the content of the speech. The US
participation was interrupted three times, one of them by Cuba.
Venezuela also interrupted the speeches of Israel and France, alleging that they made
disrespectful remarks or that they mentioned countries other than Venezuela that were not under
review. That did not prevent the head of the Venezuelan delegation from disrespecting and
mentioning other states with a disqualifying speech, as she did with the US, the UK, Brazil and
It was also noteworthy that, despite a constant narrative of the victimization of Venezuela due to
UCMs, when it was the turn of the vice president of the government for social and territorial
socialism (sic), he presented a paradisiacal panorama of a country with 95 % of vaccinated,
subsidies of the order of 99% on the price of food, 93% of schools with a food program, among
other fantastic figures that seem to suggest that the UCMs have not had any impact on the
population, which makes it clear that the government uses the story of the sanctions for political
convenience, showing gaps and open contradictions.
Now it is up to the troika, made up of Cuba, Somalia, and Indonesia, to prepare the synthesis of
the debate in a document that will collect the recommendations. The unbalanced composition of
the troika of rapporteurs for Venezuela could lead to a document that does not adequately reflect
what happened in the interactive dialogue.
In any case, the body of recommendations already constitutes an agenda, not only for CSOs, but
for the same bodies of the UN human rights system. It is a measuring stick by which Venezuela’s
commitment over the next four years will be evaluated.