Venezuela is considered to be “a rogue state,” due to its consistent and aggressive refusal to support liberal international norms. On the UNHRC, Venezuela voted against a series of human rights resolutions concerning the human rights situations in Syria, Ukraine and North Korea. The only exceptions to this pattern were two votes on North Korea, in which Venezuela joined China and Russia in condemning the repression in the “Hermit Kingdom.” In all other cases of UNHRC regional votes and the UPR process, Venezuela allied itself with Russia, China, and Cuba in refusing to call out violations of political and civil rights, even in the most egregious cases. Within the region, Venezuela has pulled the country out of the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; contested the authority of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to hear cases and make recommendations on human rights matters in Venezuela; refused to invite credible international election observers to monitor its electoral processes (preferring instead to invite the compliant UNASUR); and placed restrictions on local NGOs and their right to receive international support. On June 23, 2016, Venezuela led a failed attempt to block the presentation of a report on the situation in democracy in the country before the OAS Permanent Council.

Below is a breakdown of Venezuela’s actions and votes at the various venues we are monitoring. For more information click on each title and summary.


Freedom House  
Freedom Status Not Free
Aggregate Score (100 is perfect freedom and protection of rights) 16/100
Political Rights (scores out of 40, with 40 being the best)  2/40
Civil Liberties (scores out of 60, with 60 being the best)  14/60
Reporters Without Borders  
World Press Freedom Index (scores out of 100, with 1 being the best) 49.10
Transparency International  
 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 16/100
 Global Rank 173/180
World Justice Project [1]  
Rule-of-Law Index 0.27
 Regional rank  30/30
 Global rank 128/128
UN Human Development Index  
 Human Development Index 0.711
 Global rank 113
Americas Quarterly [2]  
 Social Inclusion Index N/A
Regional rank N/A

United Nations System:

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC or Council)

Venezuela is a current member of the Council, having narrowly been elected in 2019 despite its poor human rights record. Its current term will expire in 2022. It was previously on the Council from 2013-2018 (Council sessions 22-33). On the Council, Venezuela has consistently voted against human rights on the issues of Syria and Ukraine, but has voted in favor of human rights in North Korea.

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UNHRC Resolutions on the conflict in Syria

Resolution 34/26 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
25th Special Session
The deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent situation in Aleppo
voted Against
Resolution 33/23 Human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
Resolution 32/25 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
Resolution 31/17 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
 Resolution 30/10  The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation int he Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
 Resolution 29/16 The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
 Resolution 28/20  The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
 Resolution 27/16  The continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
Resolution 26/23 The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
Resolution 25/23 The continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
Resolution 24/22 The continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
Resolution 23/01 The deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in Al-Qusayr voted Against
Resolution 23/26 The deterioration of the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the need to grant immediate access to the commission of inquiry  voted Against
Resolution 22/24 Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in Ukraine:

Resolution 32/29 Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights voted Against
Resolution 29/23 Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights voted Against
Resolution 26/30 Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights voted Against

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in North Korea:

 Resolution 28/22  Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  voted Yes
 Resolution 25/25  Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  voted Yes
 Resolution 22/13  The situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  Consensus


UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review

As part of its mandate to promote human rights around the globe, the UNHRC has instituted a Universal Periodic Review, where, once every four years, each country’s human rights record is examined. Other countries are invited to review the record and make comments and suggestions for improvement.  The country under review then acknowledges each comment by either “accepting” the comment, meaning typically that they agree to focus on, or “noting” it, indicating that they disagree and will not be focusing on improvements in this area.

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Recommendations for the 2nd cycle for Venezuela are not up yet.

Note: This data is for the 2nd cycle of the UPR. However, the final round of countries were reviewed in November/December 2016, and that data is not yet available to include in our analysis here.[/expandableContent]

UN NGO Committee

Venezuela is not currently on the committee.

Inter-American System:

OAS Permanent Council

Under the new leadership of Secretary General Luis Almagro, the OAS has re-found its focus on promoting democracy around the region. This was shown most clearly in a meeting in June 2016 where Almagro presented his report on the state of democracy in Venezuela and proposed invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

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On June 23, 2016, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro convened the OAS Permanent Council under the Inter-American Democratic Charter to hear the Secretary General’s report on the situation in Venezuela. The subject country representatives led a charge to prevent the council from even hearing the report. (Taking action was not even under consideration.) After four hours of speeches and denunciations, led by Venezuela and Nicaragua, the body eventually agreed to hear the report, with 20 countries voting in favor, twelve countries voting against and two abstaining. Most interesting was the fracturing of the once-solid Petro-Caribe bloc that had historically uniformly backed Venezuela.

On May 31st, 2017, the meeting of the Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs to consider the situation in Venezuela took place in Washington, D.C. CARICOM and ALBA nations largely sided with Venezuela, and backed a resolution that called Venezuela to reconsider withdrawing from the OAS. On the other hand, a resolution backed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the U.S., and Uruguay, among other countries, called for the release of political prisoners and urged the Venezuelan government not to convene a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. The meeting ended at a stalemate, and was scheduled to resume during the OAS General Assembly.

At the 2017 OAS General Assembly, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez—who has since resigned from her post to run for a seat in a new Constituent Assembly—responded to concerns over the state of human rights in Venezuela by criticizing the human rights records of countries like the U.S. and Mexico. During the rescheduled meeting of foreign ministers, Rodríguez walked out of the room before member states were able to take a final vote on the two resolutions left pending, stating “not only [does Venezuela] not recognize this meeting, we do not recognize any resolution coming out of it.” Neither resolution got the sufficient votes needed to pass; and the session is said to be set to resume discussion at a later, unspecified date.

A 2018 OAS Panel of Independent Experts report concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe crimes against humanity were being committed in Venezuela. A 2020 OAS General Secretariat report reaffirmed this conclusion, and condemned the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for inaction. The General Secretariat also recognizes Juan Guaidó as the interim President of Venezuela and President of the National Assembly.


Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR or Commission)

Venezuela, along with the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, is one of the most uncooperative with the Commission, often sending representatives to disrupt the hearings and denounce the right of the Commission to hear and discuss the human rights situation in the country under the inter-American system of human rights.

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Hearing Issue Score
175th Effects on the right to education, academic freedom and university autonomy in Venezuela and Humanitarian emergency in Venezuela  
174th Persons deprived of liberty in Venezuela and Torture, extrajudicial execution and gross human rights violence due to State repression in Venezuela  
173rd Political Persecution in Venezuela and Defense, National Security Doctrine and Violations of the Human Rights of Citizens and Human Rights Defenders in Venezuela  
172nd Freedom of Expression in Venezuela, Political crisis, the National Assembly and justice in Venezuelans, and Follow-Up of Precautionary Measures 70-19; 83-19; 102-19; 115-19; 150-19; 178-19; 181-19; 250-19 (ex-officio)  
171st Trade Union and Labor Rights in Venezuela and Human Rights Situation in Venezuela  
170th Arbitrary detention and human rights situation in Venezuela  
169th Political Crisis in Venezuela and its Impacts on Elderly Persons and the LGBTI Community, Persons Deprived of Liberty during the Political Crisis in Venezuela (ex-officio), and Humanitarian Situation and Social Control Mechanisms in Venezuela  
161st Access to Justice in Venezuela 2/3
161st Reports of Political Persecution in Venezuela 2/3
161st Right to Truth and Report of Venezuela’s commission for Justice and Truth 2/3
159th Human rights in the context of the “Arco Minero del Orinoco” mining project in Venezuela 2/3
159th Human rights situation of persons deprived of liberty in Venezuela 2/3
159th The Human right to housing in Venezuela 2/3
159th Situation of the right to freedom of expression and information in Venezuela 2/3 
157th /158th  General Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela  1/3
157th /158th  Rights to Health in Venezuela  1/3
157th /158th  Jimmy Guerrero and Ramón Antonio Molina Pérez, Venezuela (case) 1/3
157th /158th  Human Rights and “People’s Liberation Operation” In Venezuela  1/3
157th /158th  Right to Health and Access to Medicine in  Venezuela  3/3
156th  Freedom of Expression 1/3
156th  Political Rights 1/3
156th  Human Rights  1/3
156th  Human Rights Defenders  1/3

Voluntary financial contributions to IACHR  (as of Sept. 16, 2016):

Year Contributions by Colombia Percentage of Total
Contributions to IACHR
2014  –


Electoral Missions

The OAS has conducted a total of 11 electoral observation missions to Venezuela since 1992. The last electoral observation mission took place during the 2020 presidential election, where they passed a resolution declaring the elections in Maduro’s Venezuela to be fraudulent and reasserting that free and fair elections cannot be held in the country under current conditions. The OAS also monitored elections in 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1993, and 1992. Since then, election observation has been conducted by UNASUR, which has failed to recognize any pre-election or election-day problems, despite the state’s total control over most media, the flagrant use of state resources for partisanship and the disqualification of opposition candidates and opposition candidates’ results (all of which occurred during the 2015 National Assembly elections).

Freedom of Information Laws

Since 2000 the right to information and freedom of information laws have expanded across the region.  However, the existence of the laws on the books does not necessarily mean full enforcement.

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Signatory/Participant in MESICIC* Yes
Constitutional protection* Yes
Specific law enacted* None
Is there a presumption of right?* Yes
Scope/Exceptions/Overrides* There is a constitutional right to information in Venezuela, however, this right has been ignored and reduced under chavista governments by regulations, court decisions, and government harassment.
Received information under FOIA law?** 75%
Received information within a week?** 62%
Received the appropriate information?** 69%

*Data taken from the Global Right to Information ratings, provided by the Center for Law and Democracy. 
**Information from the 2015 World Justice Project Open Government Index


Women’s Rights:

Protecting women against gender-based violence is a human rights issue often overlooked globally even though it crosses social, economic and national boundaries. And according to the United Nations Population Fund, gender-based violence undermines the health, security, dignity, and autonomy of its victims. Although 16 countries in Latin America had modified their laws to include a specific type of crime referring to the murder of women by 2015, they are not uniformly implemented, and practices to convict perpetrators of gender-based violence are still extremely weak. A 2016 report published by the Small Arms Survey found that Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world.

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Venezuela continues to categorize femicide as aggravated homicide. However, in 2014, the 2007 Organic Law on the Rights of Women to a Life Free of Violence was reformed to include the crime of femicide. The penalty for femicide runs from 15 to 30 years in prison.


Indigenous rights:

7.8 percent of the population in Latin America, roughly 41,813,039 people, identify as indigenous, 49 percent of them live in urban areas and 51 percent live in rural areas.

The Labour Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO 169)

The Labour Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO 169)—which has the status of an international treaty—establishes the right of indigenous and tribal peoples to be consulted when a policy or project affects their culture or heritage through what is commonly called “previous and informed consent.” The vaguely worded treaty has been a point of contention in some countries, among governments, investors and communities; and progress in implementing it has been uneven. The Convention has been interpreted, in particular, as applying to issues of national resource extraction and infrastructure development that affect communal lands. In Latin America 16 countries have signed ILO 169.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s (UNDRIP)

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007, all Latin American countries, except Colombia, which abstained, voted in favor of this declaration. The only four countries to initially reject this declaration were the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. While it is not a legally binding instrument, it is an “important standard” for the treatment of indigenous people. The declaration sets out the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, and other issues. It prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development. The end goal is to encourage countries to work alongside indigenous communities to solve global issues, like development, multicultural democracy and decentralization.

American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

In 2016, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after a long negotiation of 17 years. The declaration recognizes the collective organization and multicultural character of Indigenous peoples, the self-identification of people who consider themselves indigenous and special protection for peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact. However, the declaration was met with resistance by members of the Indigenous community, who complained that they did not have full participation in the negotiations and that the declaration rolled back several rights recognized in UNDRIP. The declaration does not mention the right to previous and informed consultation.

Previous to the declaration, in 1990, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had created the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to devote attention to Indigenous Peoples in the Americas and to “strengthen, promote, and systemize the IACHR’s own work in this area. The current Rapporteur on the Right of Indigenous Peoples is Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Ambassador of Peru to Spain from 2012 to 2014 and Minister of the Office of Justice. He received a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru with a master’s degree in Constitutional Law and a PhD in Humanities. Former Rapporteurs include, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine a former IACHR Commissioner and Dinah Shelton an international law consultant for the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme among other organizations.

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From 2011 to 2016, out of 165 seats in the unicameral National Assembly, three were occupied by Indigenous representatives. From 2016 to 2021, out of 167 seats, that number remained the same, including one Indigenous woman. The 1999 Constitution established a quota of three seats set aside for indigenous peoples.   

According to data from 2011, 724,592 of Venezuelans identified as Indigenous (2.8 percent of the total population). 63 percent lived in urban areas.

Venezuela has voted in favor of UNDRIP, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is a signatory of ILO 169.

But although signatory of ILO 169, Venezuela has approved no laws for its implementation and regulations governing the rights are overlapping and contradictory. The state signed the treaty in 2002, and since then there has been no implementing legislation, no established process no jurisprudence to guarantee or define the right, and no compliance in the case of oil investment projects. 


[1] WJP Rule-of-Law Index measures 4 principles: 1) The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law; 2) The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights; 3) The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient; 4) Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
[2] AQ Social Inclusion Index uses 23 different factors to measure how effectively governments are serving their citizens, regardless of race or income, and is published annually by Americas Quarterly at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
[3] Hearings were scored by Global Americans on a scale of 0 to 3 to evaluate government participation. 0 indicates that the government did not send any representatives to participate. If representatives were present, they were scored from 1 to 3 based on how engaged the representatives were, 1 indicating that they objected to the hearing, to the jurisdiction of the Commission to review the topic or dismissed there being any issue to discuss. A score of 3 indicates full participation of the government, including acknowledgment of the issue and its importance, the jurisdiction of the Commission to review and engagement on how this issue will be addressed going forward.
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