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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[Al Jazeera] UNSC members get stuck up on debating the rightfulness of sanctions against Venezuela

On Friday members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) continued discussions on the sanctions imposed on Venezuela following the dispute over the resource-rich Essequibo territory with its neighboring nation Guyana. 

Some member nations emphasized that for sanctions to be eased, Venezuela first needs to show compliance with democratic principles. The United States had re-imposed oil sanctions on the South-American nation after President Nicolás Maduro’s government, which stands accused of rampant corruption and human rights violations, had failed to comply with the Barbados electoral roadmap agreement to allow all parties to select their candidates for the 2024 presidential election. Meanwhile, countries of the Global South highlight the consequences of the sanctions for Venezuelan civilians and the disruption of trade agreements between Latin American nations.

The United States and supporters of the sanctions, such as Switzerland and the Republic of Korea, voiced that the sanctions have been imposed as a response to Maduro’s government, and therefore are not the cause of the situation but a consequence. 

Ecuador describes the discussion on sanctions as repetitive and redundant, showing the growing frustration of the Global South. The South-American nation highlights that the UNSC cannot prevent unilateral sanctions, an argument corroborated by Britain, and should instead focus on finding ways to help Venezuela reestablish its democracy and relieve the suffering of its people. 

Colombia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Algeria emphasized that the sanctions are disproportionately hurting the Venezuelan population, and that alternative measures need to be discussed that instead target the individuals responsible for corruption and human rights violations. 

Algeria raises questions of post-colonialism regarding Western interference in Venezuelan state affairs. Guyana, as a nation that has lived through colonization, responds that colonialism has become an excuse for supporters of Maduro to argue against any measures taken to hold the Venezuelan government accountable. 

The Brazilian delegation worried about a spill-over effect of the sanction’s economic consequences to other South-American nations and welcomed the discourse on de-escalation of the dispute rather than imposing measures that would lead to further deterioration of the situation in Venezuela. 

Russia denounced the Barbados agreement as Western interference limiting Venezuelan access to oil despite its high dependence on the raw material for its economy to function. It points out that an “alliance of the West against the rest” is materializing from the ongoing discussions and that the emphasis of the UNSC should be on fostering more diplomatic collaboration between the disputants. If the split continued, Russia would see itself forced to take measures against Western powers to support the Venezuelan people. 

China sided with Russia, saying that “Western powers are hijacking Venezuela and calling it aid.” The superpower highlights its own ways of helping Venezuela overcome its economic crisis through bilateral cooperation agreements in areas such as economy, trade and tourism.

Venezuela accuses Western powers of repeatedly interfering with the internal affairs of Global South nations, especially in Latin America, drawing comparisons to the Cuban Crisis. The delegation views the Barbados agreement as an attempt by Western states to further consolidate their power in the Global South.

Given the disagreement on whether sanctions should continue to be imposed, it was proposed the discussions now move towards finding effective alternatives to help the plight of the Venezuelan people. However, Western powers continue to dispute their role in Venezuela's current situation and double down on individual countries’ rights to impose sanctions if democratic principles are undermined. 

Meanwhile, civilians in Venezuela continue to suffer the consequences of both their authoritarian regime and sanctions. The UNSC seems unable to come to an agreement regarding the rightfulness of the sanctions but also fails to offer effective alternatives. Years of sanctions and other pressure have failed to dislodge Maduro, who enjoys support from Russia and China. Whether more sanctions can solve the vast amount of issues resulting from Maduro’s government and continuous Western involvement in Latin American affairs is questionable. Moreover, it misses the point of the current assembly: the resolution of the Essequibo dispute.

EuroMUN Committee: United Nations Security Council (UNSC)


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