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UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights begins Venezuela visit


UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights begins Venezuela visit

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro
Photo: Reuters

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Alena Douhan will today begin a 13-day visit to Venezuela to assess the effects of unilateral sanctions on the country.

Thus far Canada, the EU and Switzerland have imposed unilateral sanctions on Venezuela, while the US has taken the most comprehensive action. Initially imposed by President Barack Obama in 2014 to remove Nicolas Maduro from power, the sanctions regime was expanded in 2019 under President Donald Trump, placing Venezuela under a near-total trade embargo. UN observers have criticised the regime for exacerbating food and medicine shortages while doing little to weaken Maduro’s position.

Echoing these sentiments, expect Douhan to call for a sharp reduction or outright rescission of unilateral sanctions, primarily those imposed by the US. President Joe Biden will likely take a more cautious approach to reduce sanctions. New US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has vowed to look into an immediate increase in humanitarian aid to Venezuela, while the Biden administration has expressed willingness to open dialogue with Caracas. Expect the US to offer to lift sanctions on PDVSA—Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and main economic driver—in exchange for holding free and fair presidential elections.

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