The Courage : from UN diplomat to human rights activist

Portrait : Isaias Medina



The journey of Isaias Medina is one of unprecedented integrity coupled by courage.

I stumbled upon his Instagram two years after meeting him at a Karaoke event hosted by ASEAN Ambassadors, to witness something so rare in the diplomatic carrier path : he quit.

Somehow I was not surprised, Isaias was a high level diplomat at the Venezuelan Mission to the UN, but he is and will always be an outstanding Lawyer. He stroke me as a liberal, an individual so fit for the UN task.

The Diplomat’s Dilemma

My mother once told me, Diplomacy is like joining the military, except it’s more fancy.

It is not only a job, it is a carrier devoted to serve loyally your Country’s interest. I insist in Country and not particularly government. Addendum: As I wrote this line I notice that I didn’t read Isaias email yet, and that the first thing he told me is that

you serve your country.

Isaias at the United Nations Head Quarters

Diplomats that make history are those that rise above the Government’s line to take. Richard Holbrooke is one of the most emblematic US Ambassadors featured in the autobiographical movie « The Diplomat », what is striking is how he rose to President Obama and refused to obey on the strategy chose by the Oval Office concerning Irak. Civil disobedience can come even from a public agent, as it should, if not the agent becomes a bureaucrat.

Isaias is one of those Diplomats that are making history. 

He decided to serve his country and not his government. Not only did this suppose renouncing to all privileges, the New York UN lifestyle, the power-plays within his country where for a while he will be excluded from. It also meant putting his life in danger. 

From here on I will let Isaias narrate how he opposed the Maduro regime as he sent me his answers from Miami by email this morning.

1. It takes courage and also integrity to quit diplomacy, can you walk us through your journey?

Above any career one must have principles and be coherent with what one thinks, says and acts. Diplomacy, Law or any career demands ethics and principles, even more when you are representing a country, not a government,

Diplomats are obliged to defend the people and their best interests they represent.

I do not endorse human rights violations, crimes against humanity and breeching the constitution usurping the competence of congress and the original power of sovereignty of the peoples to maintain the executive office, when a government acts against its own constituency it becomes illegitimate. All these 4 elements were the origin of April 2017 protests, and are still present today.

In my view, to be part of the International Community’s most important multilateral Fora at the United Nations (U.N.), a member State and its delegates, must act according to the U.N. Charter of which Human Rights, Development and Security are the three fundamental pillars, of which the Venezuelan Government violated all of them.

It would of have been hypocritical of me to continue my work when Maduro’s regime was killing more than 130 civilians in cold blood, mostly students, for protesting due to the violation of the constitution, arbitrarily detaining protestors without due process and holding military trials in breech of their natural civilian jurisdiction, systematically persecuting and torturing them for political reasons.

It was evident to me, when I brought to the permanent mission of my country and they refused denying the existence of a profound humanitarian crisis, the assistance offered by the Permanent Mission of the Sovereign order of Malta, because they would not recognize there was a humanitarian emergency, people where clearly perishing for lack of medicines and food, that and the killing of students was my red line, I had to resign and join the resistance against a cruel criminal Dictatorship.

Today I have had more than 100 international interviews bringing awareness of what is happening in my country and have asked the panel of experts of the Organization of American States (OAS) to hold Maduro and his accomplices accountable to the International Criminal.Court (ICC) presumably for committing crimes against humanity, extermination and political apartheid according to the Rome Statute, particularly Art 7 (2) and (K), having submitted hundreds of testimonies of victims of the humanitarian crisis.


I have also requested and was awarded by the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela in exile an injunction declaring the humanitarian crisis, opening an international humanitarian corridor and if defaulted requesting the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) an International Humanitarian Intervention to protect the civilian population, hundreds of thousands are dying for lack of medicines and malnutrition, 287,000 children are in risk to have the same outcome as 11,400 last year, by CARITAS report.

It has been presented also how corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist ties are common among high ranking and military officials in Maduro’s regime making it an International Criminal Organization that has hijacked a government and 30 million people, creating an imminent and present threat to the maintenance of peace and security in the region and the world.

In the Arria Formula UNSC informal meeting I helped organise during the Italian Presidency co-sponsored by the US mission, the High Commissionner UNHCHR, CARITAS and the Secretary General of the OAS presented hard evidence of the humanitarian crisis, crimes against humanity and other such criminal acts above mentioned.

At the end of the day my dear friend, we must stand in the right side of history and let the voice of the voiceless and defenseless be heard, regardless of the personal cost even if it means giving up your life for your beliefs.

2. Would you say being a lawyer gave you more of an opportunity to be versatile in your carrier?

Certainly, advocacy is multidimensional carrier.

I have been an environmental activists for 30 years and a lawyer for 25, the versatility comes from ones interest and practice, it is important to not only talk the talk, but to walk the walk.

When the challenges become evident act cording to the Rule of Law wherever you are with whatever you have to do the right thing. Being a lawyer allows you the knowledge and audacity to find the way there.

3. What are your projects for 2018?

I registered an NGO waiting for my passport before I resigned last year, called (IG: @wecare2030) to promote the U.N 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development focused mainly on the Health of our oceans and Changing Climate Change, I plan to continue to share this initiative contributing to change the world through changing peoples behavior and prejudicial trends, I humbly invite you to visit and comment please.

Also I will continue to work tirelessly with the U.N, the OAS and every humanitarian agency available to bring humanitarian assistance to my people and to liberate my country from cruel Narco-Dictatorship.

4. What are your hopes for the 2030 Agenda being a UNGA Resolution and how can we reach the SDGs by 2030?

In my humble opinion, involving individual citizens and corporations will allow the Sustainable Development Goals a reality.

There is a clear path to conversion of a linear decayed economy to a circular sustainable blue one that is reshaping society, the faster people accept it markets will shift accordingly.

We have the power to change and must change now for the benefit of present and future generations.

The 2030 Agenda it’s inspirational and 2030 is the first step towards attaining it, sustainability is a way of life to live in harmony with the planet and with ourselves.



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