11 Sep Venezuela Formally Withdraws from American Convention on Human Rights, Blames the U.S.
In other Latin American news, Venezuela’s withdrawal from the American Convention of Human Rights went into effect this week, drawing the condemnations of various human rights groups. The withdrawal was one of the Hugo Chavez’s last decisions as President, however, and seems to have been sparked by dissatisfaction with decisions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Venezuela’s withdrawal from the American Convention, along with its decision to withdraw from the World Bank’s ICSID system of resolving investor-state disputes last year, suggests that international judicial institutions of all types are losing a bit of ground in Latin America. Colombia has denounced its membership in the Bogota Pact, and Bolivia and Ecuador have also left ICSID.
Of course, Venezuela is a different case and it is only the third country ever to withdraw from the American Convention. I don’t know enough about the region to opine on the reasons for Venezuela’s withdrawal, but I do find the reflexive Yankee-bashing a curious justification.
Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, reiterated Chavez’s charge that the Inter-American system was a U.S. pawn.
“[T]he U.S. is not part of the human rights system, does not acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction or the commission, but … the commission headquarters is in Washington,” President Maduro said at a news conference, according to media reports. “Almost all participants and bureaucracy that are part of the IACHR are captured by the interests of the State Department of the United States.”
My experience with the OAS and the Inter-American Commission is admittedly quite limited, but I’ve never gotten the impression that IACHR in particular was controlled by the U.S., or indeed, that the U.S. paid the IACHR any serious attention whatsoever. The only shred of truth here is that the IACHR is indeed headquartered in Washington D.C., but that can’t be enough to prove bias. After all, the U.N. is in New York and it proves (pretty much every day) that the U.S. is powerless to get it to do anything it wants.