Professor Pan Deng
13th February 2019
Distinguished Ambassadors in China, from countries protecting independence,
Distinguished China former Ambassadors and former Representatives in Latin American countries,
Dear scholars of International Law and International Affairs,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
My fellow citizens and I, as well as many nations in East Asia and Southeast Asia are still immersed in the joy of the New Lunar Year. This is our most important traditional festival. People of different regions and different ethnic groups check their past achievements, show gratitude for gifts from Nature with different customs, and celebrate the recovery of people and all form of life, embodying the Eastern people’s understanding of the world and the universe. This is precisely the world importance and global cultural value of the Spring Festival. With the mutual communication and understanding of people of all nationalities in the world, the Chinese New Year, originally from China, has been understood and recognized by more and more countries and peoples.
“The Spring Festival approaches to all mankind” is the footnote of this era. In the era of globalization, the world respects and embraces every nation that wants to embrace her, and for this reason, the world becomes richer and colourful. Just as a Chinese wise man advice to us: “Appreciate the beauty of others as you do with your own, and the world will become a harmonious whole”.
However, we also notice that unilateralism is countering this globalization wave. Some countries abandoning international cooperation, abandoning mutual respect, puting own interests above other countries. Once the multilateral mechanism and international norms disobey its will, unilateralism may fight alone, or in company of joint partners, in order to blame, intervene, sanction, and threat or use of force in other countries. Today’s world is shrouded in a disturbing atmosphere. We cannot help but ask whether we are going back to the anarchy of the international community. Should the international order be guided by the law of the jungle, and “power determines everything” as a natural rule of the world?
Dear ambassadors and colleagues:
Over the past 70 years since the end of World War II, the international situation has changed and transidted an uneven road. However, the world has maintained overall peace and stability and experienced unprecedented development and prosperity. The practice of the United Nations in safeguarding international peace and security as well as promoting common development has been widely supported by the international community. The basic principles advocated by the UN Charter are deeply rooted in the hearts of the people and have laid the foundation stone of the contemporary international order. China calls on all countries to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter on the issue of Venezuela, especially international relations and international law norms such as non-intervention in internal affairs, mutual sovereignty and territorial integrity respect, and refraining from threat or use of force. I believe that “respect for sovereignty” is the cornerstone and core of this series of guidelines.
The Universal Declaration of Principles of International Law, which was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1970, authoritatively interpreted “sovereign equality”, and each country has the right to freely choose and develop its political, social, economic, and cultural systems. What kind of state power structure Venezuela chooses, how to design and adjust it, and how to realise it in the form of constitutional texts and legal texts is entirely within the scope of Venezuelan sovereignty.
On January 24th, in my comments published in the Global Times (English version), I introduced the relevant provisions when in Venezuela an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve, Constituent Assembly and constitutional disputes, established in the country’s constitutional text. Who is interested in that can read that article. What I want to emphasise today is that even when there are various ways to interpret law, only the legislative and judicial interpretation are formal interpretations that have legal effect. In the current political framework of Venezuela, Constituent Assembly and/or the Supreme Court of Justice are in charge of legislative interpretations and Constitutional Court of the Supreme Court of Justice. Interpretations coming from other sources, even if it has academic value, do not have any legal effect.
Sovereignty, which is the indivisible and unitary supreme power of a country to deal with its domestic affairs and international affairs as well, is made up of several powers, such as legislative, executive and judicial. In today’s Venezuela, sovereignty is also composed of Constituent Power, Citizen Power, Electoral Power and armed self-defence. I believe that only when Venezuela’s sovereignty is respected, domestic political parties will be able to properly solve the current political crisis through dialogue and political consultations in a state of “no intervention in internal affairs” and it will enhance its organisation of political power and its way of governance in order to make them more suitable for its national conditions. Only through respect of its sovereignty, it is possible to explore a path that is in line with its own development and thus improve the people’s living standards. Only when Venezuela’s sovereignty is respected, it is possible for the relevant countries to exchange their concerns and peacefully resolve their disputes with the Venezuelan government.
Ladies and gentlemen:
The Declaration of Principles of International Law also stipulates that States will refrain in their international relations from using threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. Such threats or use of force constitute a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and will never be applied as a means of resolving international disputes.
Dear friends from Latin America:
As a Chinese scholar who cherishes the friendship with Latin America, in the past one or two years, I have often exchanged views with my counterparts in Latin America on Venezuela. So today, I can deeply understand the different attitudes that you have taken when dealing with the Venezuelan issue – either because of sympathy for the situation of your fellow citizens, or about the turmoil in the continent where you live together, or about different views of governance measures, or concerns about the possible transformation of the democratic forms that tends to be consistent, regionally speaking.
As a friend from China, I have no intention of intervening in the discussion between fraternal peoples. This position is precisely the consistent principle that my country has in its relations with governments and its international affairs. But I want to say that there are such different points of views between the brothers on the Korean peninsula, in the Middle East, in Eastern Europe, in Central Africa, and in Spain, which I also love. Correct handling and settlement of disputes will largely affect the degree of involvement of external forces, and will also greatly contribute to the final solution of the situation, in a proper manner.
I particularly appreciate the actions currently taken by Mexico and Uruguay to coordinate the positions among the fraternal countries on the premise of non-intervention, thereby creating a relaxed atmosphere for domestic dialogue and consultation and providing various facilities for orderly solutions.
Dear Ambassadors, colleagues:
I think that you should be more aware than me that the recent three or more decades of international practice have proved this truth: the abuse of “humanitarian intervention” has caused the relevant countries to lose the most basic rights of these sovereign states, such as independence, equality, self-defense and jurisdiction, as well as the fundamental conditions for domestic protection of their international obligations in good faith and the effective realization of human rights, leading to even greater disasters; unilateral sanctions and external interference will not help to solve practical problems. On the contrary, the situation in the region will be more complicated, and it is very likely that the surrounding areas may even suffer from the sanctions and interventions themselves, due to the “spillover effect”.
The situation in Venezuela has not yet deteriorated to a level that its people are unable to solve it. I sincerely hope that the countries and international organizations interested in contributing in Venezuelan affairs can fully respect the wishes of all parties, abide by fairness and encourage all the factions to find the “maximum common denominator” as soon as possible.
As a Law scholar, I am pleased to note that the current ruling and opposition parties have interpreted their own ideas in the framework of the Constitution and the rule of law. I think that law should not be a cold weapon that is used freely when accusing each other. It should not be deliberately distorted for one’s own privacy. The law originally had a certain temperature. It set a platform for solution of disputes, and provides a system of equal dialogue, so that contradictions and disputes could be resolved into a virtuous circle. I could guess that during the two last years, those who have different views on the Constituent Assembly, the Presidential election, and the appointment and dismissal of the President, had chosen to access to judiciary system, today’s confrontation might not be so intense.
Dear Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen:
Thank you for your patience in listening to me during the Spring Festival. Ambassador Ivan Zerpa originally gave me thirty minutes to express my views. But I think my colleagues, who are really sincere and intelligent, have witnessed more complicated Latin American issues. I think you should listen more to their insights.
Finally, I want to reiterate that country’s issues eventually have to be solved by its own people. It is sincerely expected that the Venezuelan ruling and opposition parties can transform the internal political struggle into a joint effort to improve people’s livelihood as soon as possible, without any interference. This way contributes to the well-being of the Venezuelan people and the expectations of the countries that really care about Venezuela.
Blessings to Venezuela, blessings to Latin America, blessings to the world!
Thank you all!
Dr. Pan Deng is professor and executive Director of the Institute of Latin American Law and public policy at the Chinese University of Political science and law.