In light of the recent participation of representatives of the United Nations (UN) present in Venezuela in acts related to the political situation, on January 10 and 12, 2019, and aiming at the generation of conditions conducive to the urgent and necessary access to plans and mechanisms of international humanitarian assistance and cooperation in the dimensions and scope required to guarantee the protection of human rights of the Venezuelan population, in a credible, coherent, effective and transparent manner, the undersigned civil society organizations publicly state:

  1. Since 2015, Venezuelan civil society has made a sustained effort to alert, based on evidence, on the severe, urgent and large-scale complex humanitarian emergency affecting Venezuela, generated by government policies aimed at the dismantling of the Rule of Law and the democratic order, the destruction of the economic and institutional capabilities of the country, depriving millions of Venezuelans of essential goods and services, and the use of coercion and violence by state means against those who question or oppose such policies. All this has taken place at the cost of extensive and profound suffering and damage to the Venezuelan population, in response to which the government has ignored and criminalized the right to cooperation and international humanitarian assistance, demanded by the people affected, civil society organizations, the National Assembly, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committees of International Treaty Bodies and Special Rapporteurs of the Universal System for Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the OAS, the European Union, Mercosur and countries of different continents.
  1. In spite of the humanitarian emergency and the multiple violations of human rights, until 2016 most of the UN agencies in Venezuela remained silent, hid information and decided to accept the restrictions and conditions imposed by the Venezuelan government on the implementation of cooperation programs, underestimating or not taking into account denunciations, reports, and the evident economic and social deterioration of the country, alleging limitations due to the lack of official data and their need to abide by the framework of UN cooperation underway, agreed with the government. This was denounced by 82 organizations in a public letter of June 2016 to the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Bank Ki-Moon1, as lack of compliance by the agencies to the norms of the United Nations included in the “Rights Up Front” guidelines. According to them, all agencies have responsibilities for the protection of human rights and must inform in a timely manner about their violations, above the interests of the States. If they had done so, they could have helped avoid the advance of the emergency and prevent its threats to the life and well-being of the population. In August 2016, Ban Ki Moon described the situation in Venezuela as “a humanitarian crisis created by political instability”3. However, omissions, complacency and inaction of some agencies remained into 2018.
  1. As a result of the above, the emergency was even more serious in regards to the rights to health, food, environment, education, work and income, personal security and access to basic services (water, electricity, gas, telecommunications and public transport), combined with severe restrictions on democratic freedoms and rights under a permanent State of Exception, the disqualification of the National Assembly and the fraudulent election of a National Constituent Assembly. All this, together with the government’s refusal to recognize the humanitarian emergency and accept cooperation and international assistance and after intense peaceful protests which were strongly repressed with massive arrests, torture, extrajudicial executions and assassinations by State security forces and violent civil groups, caused in 2017 a growing forced migration of Venezuelans, and a human mobility crisis, forcing United Nations agencies and other humanitarian actors to activate border operations and to approve emergency resources in 2018, through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) . 64% of these resources were allocated to the attention of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. UNHCR had to approve new guidelines to protect Venezuelans in continuous flight from the country due to insecurity and violence, lack of food, medicines or access to essential social services and loss of income4. In addition, the Regional Platform for Interinstitutional Coordination was created between the IOM and UNHCR, which together formulated the Emergency Plan for Refugees and Migrants in Venezuela 20195. Venezuela was included for the first time in OCHA´s Global Humanitarian Plan 20196, in which Venezuelan migration appears as “the largest exodus experienced in Latin America and the Caribbean in its modern history with more than 3.4 million refugees and migrants.
  1. However, restrictions on access to cooperation and humanitarian assistance of the United Nations continued towards Venezuela, even though in 2018 agreements were signed with WHO8, PAHO910 and UNICEF11 and other agencies to implement CERF funds, still inadequate and of limited effectiveness given the scale of the emergency. The emergency has never been recognized by the government and its political, economic and institutional causes have been deepened in a sustained manner, despite the fact that the Human Rights Council of the United Nations approved a resolution in September 2018, urging the government to accept humanitarian assistance to address the shortage of food, medicines and medical supplies, the increase in malnutrition and outbreaks of disease, in a context of political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis that seriously affects the human rights of the Venezuelan Population. The Resolution also urged the government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and prepare a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Venezuela, in accordance with its mandate to play an active role in the face of obstacles and challenges to guarantee the realization of human rights and prevent their violations.
  1. Given the extreme adversities caused by the complex humanitarian emergency, the Venezuelan population has the right to access international humanitarian cooperation and assistance, not only to meet the most urgent needs, but also to provide spaces and protection capabilities in the absence of the Rule of Law, widespread deprivation and systematic coercive practices. The United Nations has a great weight and leadership in the responses to complex humanitarian emergencies and all its officials have responsibilities with human rights in both the roles of cooperation as well as of humanitarian assistance, such as the International Humanitarian Charter´s principles, given that the dignity, life, freedoms and personal integrity of people are at stake as a result of the way in which these responses are conducted. In this sense, the organization itself has pointed out that “concrete experiences have shown that the work of the United Nations on the ground has a much greater impact and a more powerful and positive legacy in the lives of people when it meets established standards in the UN Charter. Lessons from the field have also shown that failure to comply with the UN’s human rights responsibilities can seriously threaten the lives and legitimacy of the UN”.
  1. Given all of the above, we are deeply concerned that: a) Mr. Peter Grohmann, UN Resident Coordinator, and representatives of UN agencies based in Venezuela attended the swearing in ceremony of Mr. Nicolás Maduro before the Supreme Court of Justice on January 10, 201916, allowing this appearance to be interpreted and promoted by the government itself as a political backing of the United Nations System to the legitimacy of that act, seriously questioned at the national and international levels, as a result of an electoral process not carried out when established by the Venezuelan Constitution, which also did not have the minimum conditions of free and fair elections, as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights warned in a communication of January 9th, 201917. This participation seriously harms the trust and credibility by the Venezuelan population and the victims of human rights violations, since it was not essential nor a central element in the work of the United Nations, regarding dialogue with the Venezuelan authorities on cooperation and assistance, so far provided with restrictions, in addition to not being the competence of the Secretary General of the United Nations “to recognize or disregard heads of state”, as his spokesman clarified to international media18. In addition, in spite of having been invited, UN representatives where not present at the inaugural ceremony of the new National Assembly authorities, despite of the constitutional role that the Venezuelan parliament has in signing international aid and cooperation agreements. b) Subsequently, the Resident Coordinator and representatives of UN agencies held a meeting on January 12 with Mr. Nicolás Maduro and his cabinet19, broadcast live by the official media as an act of political support to his government´s legitimacy by the United Nations System. In this meeting, although the Resident Coordinator covered points of national interest for the agenda of cooperation and humanitarian assistance in Venezuela, among them urgent issues in health, food, environment and protection, access to official data in all economic and social areas (which have not been published for more than three years), cooperation with the World Food Program and the need to work with all sectors of Venezuelan society (civil society, political sectors, employers and labor organizations). He also offered full support for the new term of presidential administration on behalf of the United Nations System, without receiving from Mr. Maduro recognition of the importance of any of these points, or the admission of the gravity of the humanitarian situation. Mr. Maduro, on the other hand, asked the United Nations to be supportive of the Plan Vuelta a la Patria (“Return to the Motherland Plan”), with which he has tried to divert the real circumstances of the human mobility crisis and forced migration in Venezuela, in a sustained increase with 5,000 daily departures until December 2018, according to UNHCR estimates20, numbers that the government had also denied. Likewise, Mr. Maduro requested support for an alleged fight against corruption and to work around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG´s) of the 2030 Agenda, both issues in which Venezuela shows enormous setbacks due to the policies implemented and maintained by the government. c) It is also worrying that the Resident Coordinator and the agencies present in the aforementioned acts, in addition to affecting the credibility of the international cooperation and assistance of the United Nations, also tried to commit to their agenda the work of other bodies that respond to their own independent mandates for the protection of human rights, such as the official missions to Venezuela, still undated, of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, by a Resolution of the Human Rights Council, and of the International Labor Organization (ILO). In this regard, the Resident Coordinator proposed that those missions should not only serve to make evaluations, but also to reach concrete solutions, coinciding with Mr. Maduro’s treatment of the expected purpose of these visits, whose mandate is much broader and involves gathering information with absolute freedom of action and Independence of criteria. In this regard, we urge the United Nations Resident Coordinator and all the UN agencies working in Venezuela to:
  2. Comply with and enforce the mandates of the Charter of the United Nations and international treaties in the exercise of the functions of coordination and operational work carried out by cooperation agencies in Venezuela and, in the current situation of complex humanitarian emergency, to assume the imperatives of doing no harm and to act with prudence and due diligence in defense of the protection of the human rights of the entire Venezuelan population when performing their respective roles in the different fields of cooperation and humanitarian assistance, in accordance with the norms of international law. As well, to fully respect and be guided by international humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, humanity and independence, which includes abstaining from collaborating in the implementation of coercive, discretional and discriminatory practices in areas of cooperation and humanitarian assistance, in compliance with international human rights law.
  3. Separate the work of cooperation and humanitarian assistance of the United Nations from the diplomatic or political functions and procedures carried out by the Resident Coordinator, taking into account the lessons of negative experiences due to the inadequate behavior of agencies´ officials in complex emergencies, including the one that occurred recently in Venezuela, when the visit by a Special Procedure representative invited by the government was manipulated to try to silence, demoralize and cause hopelessness among millions of affected people.
  4. Ensure that qualified agencies with a specific mandate are the ones that assume the leading role of assistance and cooperation, as well as the implementation of the Humanitarian Country Mechanism for Aid Coordination, with broad participation of all sectors of Venezuelan society from all regions of the country, according to humanitarian mandates, and receive complaints directly and freely, as well as evidences of the humanitarian emergency and human rights violations. This is the only means to identify gaps, obstacles and more appropriate and effective ways to bring assistance to the most vulnerable and at-risk populations, as well as to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness, regardless of whether the information is politically sensitive or affects government´s interests. Lives are lost and other irreparable damages are suffered with each passing day. The deterioration of the living conditions of the population in Venezuela and the severity and speed of the damage, cannot be concealed and will have serious consequences for future Venezuelans generations. Civil society organizations have the capacities and the commitment to contribute to the humanitarian response needed to stop these damages. However, the UN agencies have an essential, inescapable, imperative and urgent responsibility for comprehensive action and coordination, which cannot be subordinated to interests other than human rights and the dignified life of the Venezuelan population.

Without them, it is not possible to speak of Sustainable Development Goals or other agendas or cooperation plans.

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  1. A C. María Estrella de la Mañana
  2. A.C Banco del Libro
  3. A.C. EDEPA
  4. A.C. MÉDICOS UNIDOS DE VENEZUELA
  5. Acceso a la Justicia
  6. ACCSI Acción Ciudadana Contra el SIDA
  7. Acción Solidaria
  8. ACONVIDA
  9. Aid For AIDS Venezuela
  10. Alianza Colectiva contra el VIH del estado Portuguesa – ACOVIH
  11. Alianza Venezolana por la Salud (AVS)
  12. AMAVIDA Zulia
  13. Amigos Trasplantados de Venezuela
  14. Asamblea de Educación
  15. Asociación Civil Centro de Desarrollo Integral Sucre
  16. Asociación Civil Ciudadanía Diversa (Ciudiver)
  17. Asociación Civil Impacto Social Venezuela
  18. Asociación Civil Justicia y Paz OP Venezuela
  19. Asociación Civil Mujeres en Línea
  20. Asociación Civil Perijá
  21. Asociación Civil Protegiendo y Produciendo PRO2
  22. Asociación Civil Uniandes
  23. Asociación Civil Yo Reumático
  24. Asociación por la Vida / Mérida
  25. Asociación Venezolana de Mujeres
  26. Asociación Venezolana para la Hemofilia
  27. Aula Abierta
  28. AVESA Asociación Venezolana para una Educación Sexual Alternativa
  29. Centro de Acción y Defensa por los Derechos Humanos – CADEF
  30. Caleidoscopio Humano
  31. Cátedra de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado
  32. Cátedra de la Paz/ Universidad de Los Andes
  33. CECODAP
  34. Cedice Libertad
  35. Cendif-Unimet
  36. Centro de Animación Juvenil
  37. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (CDH-UCAB)
  38. Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Metropolitana
  39. Centro de Justicia y Paz – Cepaz
  40. Centro de Investigación Social, Formación y Estudios de la Mujer (CISFEM)
  41. Centro para la Paz y los DDHH UCV
  42. Civilis Derechos Humanos
  43. Clima21 – Ambiente y Derechos Humanos
  44. Codevida – Coalición de Organizaciones por el Derecho a la Salud y a la Vida
  45. Codhez – Comisión para los Derechos Humanos del Estado Zulia
  46. Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Políticas de la Universidad del Zulia
  47. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela – Capítulo Apure
  48. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela – Capítulo Barinas
  49. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela – Capítulo Lara
  50. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela – Capítulo Mérida
  51. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela – Capítulo Monagas
  52. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela – Capítulo Táchira
  53. Comisión para los Derechos Humanos y la Ciudadanía – CODHECIU
  54. Comité de Derechos Humanos de la Guajira
  55. Comité Paz y Trabajo
  56. Conciencia Ciudadana A.C
  57. Consejo Comunal TEBRIPAR
  58. Convite AC
  59. Control Ciudadano para la Seguridad, la defensa y la Fuerza Armada Nacional
  60. Cooperativa Caribana
  61. Defiende Venezuela
  62. El Zulia Recicla
  63. Epikeia Observatorio Universitario de Derechos Humanos
  64. Escuela de Vecinos de Venezuela
  65. Espacio Humanitario
  66. Espacio Público
  67. EXCUBITUS DHE
  68. Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela
  69. Federación Nacional de Sociedades de Padres y Representes – FENASOPADRES
  70. Fraternidad Laical Dominicana de Barquisimeto Santo Domingo de Guzmán
  71. Funcamama
  72. Fundación Aguaclara
  73. Fundación CIIDER
  74. Fundación Incide
  75. Fundación Hazlo Posible – Chile
  76. Fundación Lucelia
  77. Fundación Manos Amigas por la Vida – MAVID
  78. Fundación Pro Bono Venezuela – ProVene
  79. Fundación Reflejos de Venezuela
  80. Fundación Rehabiliarte
  81. Fundamujer
  82. Funpaz (Asoc. Civil Fuerza, Unión, Justicia, Solidaridad y Paz)
  83. Gente y Ciudad
  84. Global Development One, USA
  85. GobiernaTec
  86. Hombres por la Igualdad y la Equidad
  87. Humano 2.0
  88. Humano Derecho
  89. ICASO, Canadá
  90. Incluso A.C
  91. Instituto Prensa y Sociedad – IPYS
  92. Instituto Venezolano de Estudios Sociales y Políticos – INVESP
  93. LaboCiudadano
  94. Laborarorio de Paz
  95. Liga Merideña Contra el Sida
  96. Madres y Padres por Los Niños en Venezuela (MAPANI VZLA)
  97. Monitor Social A.C. (Nueva Esparta)
  98. Movimiento Ciudadano Dale Letra
  99. Movimiento SOMOS
  100. Mulier
  101. Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de Los Andes
  102. Observatorio Global de Comunicación y Democracia (OGCD)
  103. Observatorio Venezolano de la Salud (OVS)
  104. Observatorio Venezolano de los DDHH de las Mujeres
  105. Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones
  106. Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Vicariato Apostólico de Puerto Ayacucho
  107. Organización StopVIH
  108. Padres Organizados de Venezuela
  109. Prepara Familia
  110. PROADOPCION A. C.
  111. Promoción Educación y Defensa en DDHH – PROMEDEHUM
  112. Provea – Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos
  113. Proyecta Ciudadanía A.C
  114. Proyecto de Extensión: Visibilización y Educación de los Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación de la Universidad de Carabobo
  115. Proyecto Mujeres
  116. Red Andina de Derechos Humanos – RADAR
  117. Red de Activistas Ciudadanos por los Derechos Humanos (REDAC)
  118. Redes Ayuda
  119. Red Electoral Ciudadana (REC)
  120. Red Naranja Venezuela
  121. Red por los Derechos Humanos de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes (REDHNNA)
  122. RedOrgBaruta
  123. Red Venezolana de Gente Positiva (RVG+)
  124. Revista SIC del Centro Gumilla
  125. SenosAyuda A.C
  126. SINERGIA, Red Venezolana de Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil
  127. Sociedad Hominis Iura (SOHI)
  128. The arTEA Project
  129. Transparencia Venezuela
  130. Una Ventana a la Libertad
  131. Unión Afirmativa de Venezuela
  132. Unión Vecinal para la Participación Ciudadana A.C
  133. Un Mundo Sin Mordaza
  134. Venezuelans and Immigrants Aid (VIA)
  135. Venezolanos del Área de la Bahía de San Francisco