Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


September 24, 2020 - Washington, DC

Times of crisis are very convenient for the abuse of power; dictators find a ready-made excuse to roll back the rights of citizens.

The pandemic has also increased the focus of our countries on events within their borders. The meaning of this cannot be turn inward, onward to forget our responsibilities as members of the international community and ignore the events taking place outside our borders.

As individuals, as states, as institutions, we have a responsibility to speak up and denounce those who are using this crisis to increase authoritarian practices to consolidate their hold in power.

At the same time, we must be willing and able to support those who are simply trying to keep their populations safe.

The September 16th report of the United Nations facts findings mission find reasonable ground to believe the crimes against humanity were committed in Venezuela. Atrocities are taking place in Venezuela and the regime of Nicolas Maduro is failing in its responsibility to protect its population.

This report validates the work on that by the OAS panel of independent experts that was published more than two years ago, that concluded that crimes against humanity were taking place in Venezuela.

While this effort serves as important milestone in the pursuit of justice for the people of Venezuela, in the interim insufficient action has been taken and they have falling short in preventing an escalation in abuses and atrocities.

We have not been able to protect Venezuelans, we have not been able to protect the thousands and thousands of those that were extrajudicially executed, thousands of political prisoners, thousands of tortured people.

We have seen attempts to appease the dictatorship and that can only make it worse.

The regime of Venezuela has used the pandemic as a mask for further crackdowns, even as it carries out sham elections. Preventative action comes with a political cost and it is easier to stand by and hope for a different outcome.

And so, we keep learning that those who are willing to stop at nothing for unchallenged power and wealth will, in fact, do anything to hold onto power.

As we seek to build back better, we must build programs and partnerships that strengthen the economic and social development of our societies and improve the capacities of governments to respond to the needs of the people, helping to avoid the worst outcomes.

As we move through the pandemic, the true measure of our society will lie in our ability to protect the civil liberties and freedoms at the heart of our democracies, while ensuring the public health and safety of our people.

Central to that role is our work to ensure that further abuses and atrocities do not take place, anywhere in the world, not in this hemisphere. To this end, and given the challenges in the Western Hemisphere, I am looking forward to hosting the next meeting of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points as soon as it is safe to do so.

Thank you very much.