On November 24, 2022, representatives from the government of Nicolás Maduro and the Unitary Platform announced that the negotiation process between them would resume. Two days later, the Second Partial Agreement between the parties was signed in Mexico City. At Peace for Venezuela, we consider that for the mediation and diplomacy efforts with the Venezuelan State to generate positive and sustainable results, the focus and action centered on the human rights of the Venezuelan population is fundamental, as is the need to advocate for institutional strengthening and democratic governance in the country.
Recommendation #1: Place human rights at the center. The human rights framework provides the guide for creating comprehensive solutions to the multidimensional crisis afflicting the country. In this sense, negotiation emerges as an opportunity to advance the process of democratic reinstitutionalization and peaceful resolution, provided that it is framed within these principles. The human rights approach avoids polarizing and accusatory language, describes the current situation using instruments ratified by the Venezuelan State and makes recommendations within the diplomatic practices established by the universal system of protection. Regular dialogue with Venezuelan human rights organizations will enable diplomatic efforts to learn about the needs of victims and communities, as well as events on the ground. To place the dignity and life of Venezuelan men and women at the center is to honor the legacy of peacebuilding in our continent.
Recommendation #2: Advocate for institutional strengthening and democratic governance. Commitment to human rights is a fundamental tenant of democratic states. This manifests in the institutions dedicated to ensuring the non-repetition of massive and systematic violations of rights. In the Charter of the Organization of American States, we committed to American solidarity, democratic institutions, freedom, peace, social justice and rights as the foundation of inter-American cooperation.
Facilitating negotiations and dialogue in Venezuela should not be seen an end in itself, but as a tool to re-establish democracy, human rights and social justice. Any potential agreements that come from these talks must focus on institutional strengthening and democratic governance to be sustainable and robust. In this way, mediation efforts will drive the structural transformation of the conflict, avoiding a transactional logic that could imply significant setbacks or superficial changes while preventing verifiable improvements in the human rights situation and the complex humanitarian emergency.
Recommendation #3: Acknowledge the conflict and demand the implementation of recommendations of international mechanisms.
Mediation and diplomacy efforts are weakened when polarizing and divisive language is used, but also when the gravity and scale of human rights violations in the country is denied or made invisible. Massive violations of economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights have been extensively documented by Venezuelan human rights organizations – assuming high levels of risk to do so – as well as by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and various UN protection agencies and bodies. Acknowledging this will be key for a holistic approach to the diplomatic efforts, and it could serve to hold the parties accountable to negotiate beyond their immediate political interests.
The human rights framework of recommendations facilitates the use of universally accepted language, based on the international law obligations assumed by the Venezuelan State, to address the most profound affectations of the population. This framework provides detailed guidance on how a state can best protect or guarantee certain rights. It is important that the mediation efforts urge that the recommendations of international mechanisms be implemented, to recover institutional governance and rule of law.
Venezuela cannot start a new chapter without addressing the wounds of the past. We must carry out the necessary reforms so that those acts and crimes that continue to take place, don’t happen again. We must also ensure justice and reparation for the victims.
To speak of dignity and peace is also to speak of justice. Both the Inter-American system and the universal system for the protection of human rights have produced precise recommendations for the Venezuelan State that must be incorporated. Specifically, we encourage that the recommendations found in the reports of the United Nations International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela, as well as those made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, be considered as key elements to the negotiation.
Recommendation #4: Establish and maintain channels of direct and secure communication with human rights and victims’ organizations.
Human rights actors obtain detailed information and establish valuable networks. Due to the nature of their work, human rights defenders tend to be the first to interact with stakeholders on the ground. In response to the surge in human rights violations, society has organized to defend its rights throughout the country and around all kinds of issues. To gather more information on how dialogue and diplomacy efforts can affect the human rights of specific populations or the exercise of specific rights, as well as to prioritize actions, it is important to have an open and secure channel of communication with defenders who have information and networks of contacts that can help build policies and responses that benefit the Venezuelan people.
Peace for Venezuela is in close contact with a wide range of networks of human rights defenders and other civil society actors, who advocate for democratization through peaceful means, cross-cutting gender and diversity perspective, sustainable development, and the participation of women in conflict transformation. Agreements that include the greatest number of political and social actors tend to be more successful over time. It is essential that diplomatic and mediation efforts include greater participation of women and minority groups, as well as stakeholders who have the potential to influence human rights situations or who have been affected by them, such as victims  .
- The role of human rights in peace and mediation processes by Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehris.
- Building basic electoral guarantees for the 2024 presidential elections in Venezuela by Peace for Venezuela.
- Reports of the International Fact Finding Mission on Venezuela from the United Nations Human Rights Council (2022 | 2021 | 2020)
- Universal Periodic Review: Summary of the communications presented by the parties from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
- Reports from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for Venezuela.
- Final report for the European Union’s Electoral Observation Mission: regional and municipal elections, November 21, 2021 (Spanish).
 The ideas brought forth in this piece are product of a dialogue between different communities of Venezuelan civil society organizations, which took place within a space of collective building and analysis called “Ideas for Democracy”.