UN warns of negative effects of Venezuela’s withdrawal from rights convention

10 September 2013

The United Nations has expressed concern over Venezuela’s withdrawal from the American Human Rights Convention, which enters into force today, and stressed the move could have a negative impact on human rights not just inside the country but also in Latin America as a whole.

In September last year, Venezuela announced its withdrawal from the Convention. Despite repeated calls from the UN to reconsider.

“Regrettably, this withdrawal becomes effective today. We want to repeat our concern that this decision may have a very negative impact on human rights in the country and beyond,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told reporters.

The American Convention on Human Rights – also known as the Pact of San José – was adopted by many American countries in the Costa Rican capital of San José in 1969, and came into force in 1978.

It defines the human rights which the ratifying States have agreed to respect and ensure, and it created two organs to promote the observance and protection of human rights and take responsibility for overseeing compliance with the Convention: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which are both OAS organs.

“We would like to encourage the Venezuelan Government, and all other States in the Americas, to continue to cooperate with regional and international human rights mechanisms, and urge them not to take any measures that would weaken human rights protection – withdrawing from a regional system is one such measure,” Mr. Colville said.

He added that regional human rights bodies, such as the Court and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, play a crucial role in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region, and also reinforce international universal human rights standards and treaties.

To date, excluding Venezuela, 24 nations in the Americas have ratified or adopted the Convention: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Granada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

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