Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council Video Teleconference Meeting on Venezuela, 20 May 2020

Mr President,

We thank you for convening this meeting and thank Under-Secretary-General, Rosemary DiCarlo, for her informative briefing.

I will focus my intervention today on three issues, namely, the political situation, humanitarian situation and the exacerbating impact of COVID-19 pandemic and regional peace and stability.

Firstly, regarding the political situation in Venezuela we reiterate our view that only a Venezuelan-led political dialogue will resolve the political challenges facing the country. In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, Venezuela’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected, and therefore attempts at an unconstitutional change of a democratically elected government in Venezuela should be condemned.

The international community should rather support a Venezuelan-owned internal peace process and resolution without imposition or preconditions. Time and time again we have witnessed the disastrous impacts of attempts to forcibly and unconstitutionally change a government including protracted conflict and instability that reaches beyond borders and regions. We do not wish this for Venezuela.

In this context, we emphasise the imperative to respect the Constitution of Venezuela and its provisions on separation of powers. Furthermore, we reiterate our view and underline that in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Venezuela should be respected by all and no attempt should be made by anyone to violate it.  In the same vein, we wish to emphasise the position and principle of non-interference in internal matters of any country.

Mr President,

Secondly, South Africa expresses its concern at the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, and particularly those countries affected by conflict and instability. The pandemic requires all of us to draw from the deepest wells of global solidarity and cooperation.

During these trying times, focus should be on addressing the humanitarian needs and concerns of countries such as Venezuela, which are enduring economic and political challenges as a result of a myriad of causes not least of which is the prevailing economic restrictions imposed externally, and also the exacerbating effect of COVID-19. South Africa therefore urges all parties to respect the need for impartiality, neutrality and independence in the provision of humanitarian assistance to Venezuela. Humanitarian assistance should not be used as a political bargaining chip, which holds the people of Venezuela and those most vulnerable to ransom.

We appreciate the work of the United Nations system in assisting Venezuela to address the humanitarian situation as well as the indispensable work of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in helping the country to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this regard South Africa fully supports the Secretary-General’s calls for enhanced international solidarity and the removal of economic sanctions that will severely limit the ability of countries to recover from the pandemic. We also support the call for a global ceasefire in all parts of the world. We must be clear that our common enemy today is the COVID-19 pandemic. Our narrow national agendas should be set aside as we jointly address the pandemic.

Mr President,

Finally, South Africa is concerned by the increase in tensions in the region and urges all countries to heed the call of the UN Secretary-General for solidarity at this time of global crisis and not to perpetuate divisions and friction. This solidarity and unity of purpose is essential in assisting the world emerge from the pandemic with minimised adverse impact on international peace and security.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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