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Venezuela and the Conventions of the Specialized Conferences on Private International Law (CIDIP)

written by Claudia Madrid Martínez

On 28 April 2017, the government of Nicolás Maduro deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS), a document whereby he expressed his “irrevocable decision to denounce the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) pursuant to Article 143 thereof, thereby initiating Venezuela’s permanent withdrawal from the Organization.”

Before the two years of the transition regime that the OAS Charter provides for cases of retirement from the Organization (art. 143), on 8 February 2019, Juan Guaidó, president of the National Assembly and interim president of the Republic, wrote to the OAS to “reiterate and formally express the decision of the Venezuelan State to annul the supposed denunciation of the OAS Charter, for Venezuela to be able to remain a member state of the Organization.”

In its session of 9 April 2019, the OAS Permanent Council accepted the representation appointed by the National Assembly of Venezuela. However, on 27 April of the same year, the Foreign Ministry, representing Nicolás Maduro, issued a statement informing that “With the denunciation of the OAS Charter made by the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on 27 April 2017, within the framework of what is contemplated in article 143; as of this date, no instrument signed and / or issued by the OAS will have a political or legal effect on the Venezuelan State and its institutions”.

This political situation has impacted the practical application of the Inter-American Conventions issued by the Specialized Conferences on Private International Law (CIDIP, by its acronym in Spanish). Remember that within the framework of CIDIP, Venezuela has ratified fourteen instruments on bills of exchange, promissory notes and bills, international commercial arbitration, letters rogatory, taking of evidence abroad, powers of attorney to be used abroad, checks, commercial companies, extraterritorial enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards, information on foreign law, general rules, international child abduction, and international contracts.

For Venezuela these conventions entered into force once the requirements for their validity established in the Constitution and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties had been met. The rules of this convention are considered customary, since Venezuela has not ratified this instrument.

We must consider that the Inter-American Conventions are open conventions, which allow the accession of States not party to the OAS. Spain, for example, has accessed to conventions on letters rogatory and on information on foreign law.