Photo Credit : ©mppre.gob.ve (Bolivarian Government of Venezuela Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs)
By Amadeus Narbutt
Despite the attempted diplomatic isolation of Venezuela by the United States (US) and its allies, 120 representatives of the member-states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) met in Caracas for a ministerial meeting last Saturday. During this meeting the representatives made clear that they would take “concrete actions” in response to any challenges to Venezuela’s official credentials at the United Nations (UN) by the US. This of course is a reference to US recognition of Juan Guaidó as the leader of Venezuela in place of current President Nicolas Maduro. Joined by countries such as Canada, the UK, Brazil, Colombia, and Germany, the scorecard of governments recognizing Guaidó stands just over 50.
In addition to its attempted delegitimization of Maduro’s government, the US has sought to isolate Maduro through efforts to block Venezuela’s access to its gold reserves, the removal of all US diplomats from the country, threats of invasion, and the strangling of Venezuela’s finances through harsh (and likely illegal) sanctions. However, due to the severity of these actions, the US has begun to isolate itself, with allies that support Guaidó backing down from US threats of military action, stating that “not every option is on the table”.
The unanimous support of Maduro’s leadership by NAM speaks to the fact that the US’s isolation of Venezuela has not been completely successful. Representing 55% of the world’s population, two-thirds of UN member states, and 88% of UN Peacekeeping Mission personnel, NAM is a multilateral voice in the diplomatic arena whose breadth cannot be ignored. Originally founded during the Cold War as a neutral group that would not pick sides between US and Soviet leadership, NAM has evolved into a group that emphasizes multilateralism, mutual non-aggression, anti-imperialism, and the remedying of economic underdevelopment in the Global South, though its reputation is tainted by the presence of human rights abusers and dictatorships within its membership.
In response to the sanctions and isolation of Venezuela, however, and on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Venezuelan delegation to the UN presented and passed a resolution within the UN Human Rights Council to enhance international cooperation in the field of human rights, with a specific focus on the role of sanctions in impeding such efforts. Though it does not name the United States specifically, the resolution reaffirmed the right of every state to “to choose freely and develop, in accordance with the sovereign will of its people, its own political, social, economic and cultural systems, without interference from any other State or non-State actor.”
While this resolution is unlikely to weaken the US’s resolve and unilateral ambitions, it ultimately shows that multilateralism and diplomacy is not yet dead.