Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Open Briefing of the United Nations Security Council, 26 February 2019
We are grateful for the informative briefing provided by Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Ms Rosemary DiCarlo.
The United Nations Security Council is the principle organ charged with maintaining international peace and security. Yet today we are witnessing the Council divided on the internal affairs of a fellow Member State, with some even threatening to use force against the territorial integrity and political independence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a fellow member of the United Nations.
This is inconsistent with the purposes of the UN, which was founded to maintain international peace and security among nations based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members. Mr. President it is important to note that the UN Charter and international law proscribes the threat of force.
For us in South Africa this sets a very bad precedent. We, on the African continent, have suffered a great deal as external forces used undemocratic tools of regime change to solve problems on the continent. In principle we are strongly opposed to this way of solving any problem. This approach takes away the basic rights of the people of the country to determine their own future.
Let the people of Venezuela decide their future. All that we can do is to help them, but the decision remains theirs. We recognise the democratic processes followed by Venezuela in choosing a President, but we also recognise that Venezuela is currently facing humanitarian challenges.
South Africa draws from its experience in overcoming one of the most repressive and insidious racist regimes through dialogue, and believes that internal, inclusive dialogue remains the only viable and sustainable path to ending the political crisis in Venezuela.
Political dialogue should seem obvious and the first logical port of call, yet the actions of some in the international community have not been conducive and encouraging to this approach.
Isolating and vilifying one party, and calling for a specific prescribed course of action which would preclude dialogue will only forment possible recourse to armed conflict. I reiterate, this is inconsistent with the purpose of the UN Security Council.
While South Africa does not believe that the situation in Venezuela poses a threat to international peace and security, the efforts of the Security Council on the situation in Venezuela should be framed by Chapter VI of the UN Charter where parties are encouraged first of all to seek a solution through negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement or other peaceful means of their own choice.
Forcing the parties to accept a prescript to resolving their own crisis, including through ultimatums, will only encourage further antagonism and division. Therefore, we call on this Council and all those truly interested in the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Venezuela to consider the question, “What is the alternative to dialogue?”
The alternative, as we have seen in other cases where dialogue was ignored, will be a prolonged crisis and possible military entanglements. This will only be to the further detriment of the people of Venezuela.
South Africa is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. We are alarmed at the unrest and loss of life that has taken place over the past weekend. Instead of assisting the people of Venezuela, the politicization and indeed weaponisation of humanitarian assistance has served to aggravate tensions in Venezuela that can only lead to violence and confrontation.
It is of utmost importance that support to the people of Venezuela does not serve as a focal point for increased tensions, antagonisms or become a tool in the political dispute that is being coaxed on by external actors.
We believe that humanitarian aid should not be used for the political ends of parties to the crisis, but should be delivered through the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to ensure its neutrality and impartiality.
This Council cannot predetermine the will of the people of Venezuela. Therefore, the international community should promote a framework of inclusive internal dialogue in order for the people of Venezuela to determine their own destiny.
I thank you.
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