The International Contact Group held this Thursday a ministerial meeting to address the political, social and humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is going through as a result of the dictatorship led by Nicolas Maduro.
“The members of the ICG reaffirmed that the only sustainable solution to the Venezuelan crisis will be an inclusive, peaceful and democratic policy that leads to free, credible, transparent and fair legislative and presidential elections,” they reaffirmed in a statement released to the media.
INTERNATIONAL CONTACT GROUP ON VENEZUELA
DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECLARATION
SEPTEMBER 17, 2020
1. The International Contact Group met at the ministerial level by videoconference on September 17th. The Group welcomed the participation for the first time of Argentina as a full member and announced that Bolivia would leave the Group.
2. ICG members reaffirmed that the only sustainable solution to the Venezuelan crisis will be an inclusive, peaceful and democratic policy that leads to free, credible, transparent and fair legislative and presidential elections. They expressed their concern over the narrowing of the democratic space in the country and particularly, in view of the organization of the upcoming legislative elections, and called for electoral guarantees in accordance with international standards and the Venezuelan Constitution. Furthermore, they asked all parties to commit to an inclusive and credible negotiation. The ICG welcomes the recent release of some political prisoners and the termination of politically motivated legal proceedings against members of the opposition, and insists that all remaining political prisoners be released immediately and unconditionally, and that house arrest be ended.
3. ICG members concluded that at present, the conditions are not met for a transparent, inclusive, free and fair electoral process. All obstacles to political participation must be removed for a meaningful electoral process to take place. This includes, inter alia, respect for the constitutional mandate of the democratically elected National Assembly; the return of control over political parties to their legitimate administrators; the cessation of the disqualification and prosecution of political leaders; the full restoration of their rights and those of other candidates for political equality, participation, comprehensive updating of the voter register, including young and overseas Venezuelan voters; an independent and balanced NEC, and equal participation and unrestricted access to all media. The ICG calls for these obstacles to free, fair and credible elections to be addressed without delay.
4. ICG members welcome the call to the international community to observe the elections as a fundamental guarantee of transparency, freedom and fairness of any future electoral process. The ICG notes that the current electoral calendar does not allow for the deployment of an Election Observation Mission, nor does it leave sufficient time and political space for the parties to negotiate the conditions for credible, free and fair elections. The ICG calls for guaranteed minimum conditions of credibility, transparency and inclusiveness in the electoral process, and the ability to observe the elections without interference, including unhindered access. Effective requirements for an election observation mission must be met in a credible and timely manner prior to deployment.
5. A negotiated, Venezuelan-owned process leading to the restoration of public powers, transparent and internationally monitored elections, and a package of guarantees to allow for political coexistence are essential elements for overcoming the crisis, achieving national reconciliation and economic recovery.
6. ICG members reiterate their deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in the country, which is now compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. While acknowledging the recent expansion of humanitarian space within the country, including the authorization of the EU humanitarian aid bridge in August, ICG reiterated its call for full, unimpeded and unhindered access for both humanitarian personnel and goods to provide urgently needed access to medicines, food, fuel and basic health services. An improved environment for humanitarian actors to act in accordance with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence is needed to strengthen the response capacity of humanitarian organizations. There is a great need to increase donor support for humanitarian response, as Venezuela remains one of the least funded humanitarian crises in the world.
7. ICG members expressed their support for the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) and the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, and called for their unrestricted access to sites in the country to carry out their mandates. ICG members expressed deep concern about human rights violations, as updated in recent reports by UN HCHR Bachelet and the UN Fact-Finding Mission. The ICG stands ready to assist the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in his efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Venezuela. Full respect for political rights in the country requires Venezuela’s return to democracy and the rule of law.
8. More than ever, Venezuela needs the support of an international community that works in unison. The ICG expresses its continued willingness to increase contacts with regional and international partners in order to promote a common understanding and response to the situation in Venezuela. Articulated and complementary international efforts are crucial to help Venezuelans restore democracy and constitutional order. Close contacts with domestic stakeholders will also be maintained.