Using her power as this month's president of the UN Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley brought the violent and tragic situation in Nicaragua to the Council this week.
Nicaragua has seen months of government repression this year, with 450 dead and more than two thousand peaceful demonstrators hurt. As Haley noted in her remarks, more than 25,000 Nicaraguans have fled to Costa Rica during this crisis. China, Russia, and some other dictatorships tried to argue that events in Nicaragua were no threat to international security and should not be on the Council's agenda. Haley blew that argument apart:
With each passing day, Nicaragua travels further down a familiar path. It is a path that Syria has taken. It is a path that Venezuela has taken. The Security Council should not – it cannot – be a passive observer as Nicaragua continues to decline into a failed, corrupt, and dictatorial state – because we know where this path leads. The Syrian exodus has produced millions of refugees, sowing instability throughout the Middle East and Europe. The Venezuelan exodus has become the largest displacement of people in the history of Latin America. A Nicaraguan exodus would overwhelm its neighbors and create a surge of migrants and asylum seekers in Central America.
This was the first-ever Security Council meeting on Nicaragua. Haley had the support of the United Kingdom, France, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and Peru (among others) in their remarks. The spokesman for the Organization of American States reviewed the OAS's efforts to stop the killing in Nicaragua and protect human rights, concluding that "the voice of the people at the ballots is the way forward." A Nicaraguan civil society activist said that "Nicaragua is becoming a hopeless country" and a huge prison where human rights defenders and religious leaders are especially at risk.
Haley is to be commended for raising the Nicaragua crisis to the Security Council, against the efforts of Russia, China, and Bolivia. Vast repression in Nicaragua is creating instability and refugee flows in Central America, and is a subject that deserves to be exposed in the United Nations. Now a tougher effort by the United States and other Western Hemisphere democracies is needed to force an end to the killing of peaceful demonstrators and a restoration of democracy.