The Venezuelan constitution — truly, a joy to read. It reads like a constitution that incorporates the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Here are some articles that particularly caught my eye.
“Article 13: The territory shall never be assigned, transferred, leased or in any manner whatsoever conveyed, even temporarily or partially, to foreign States or other international law subjects. The geographical space of Venezuela is an area of peace. No
foreign military bases or facilities having purposes that are in any way military shall be established within such space by any power or coalition of powers. Foreign States or other international law subjects shall be permitted to acquire real property only for the quarters of their diplomatic or consular delegations, within such area as may be determined and subject to guarantees of reciprocity, with such limitations as may be established by law. In all such cases, national sovereignty shall remain intact. There shall be no conveyance of title to vacant land existing within the federal dependencies and on islands in rivers and lakes, and the right to use the same shall be granted only in a manner that does not involve, directly or indirectly, the transfer of title to the land.” [emphasis added by me]
Imagine if this article were in constitutions everywhere in the world: no foreign military bases! How beautiful!
Here’s another article that is of interest, particularly when we examine the coasts of Lebanon that are almost all privatized.
“Article 12: Mineral and hydrocarbon deposits of any nature that exist within the territory of the nation, beneath the territorial sea bed, within the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf, are the property of the Republic, are of public domain, and therefore inalienable and not transferable. The seacoasts are public domain property.”
Here is quite an interesting article — granting significant power to the people.
“Article 72: All magistrates and other offices filled by popular vote are subject to revocation. Once half of the term of office to which an official* has been elected has elapsed, a number of voters constituting at least 20% of the voters registered in the
pertinent circumscription may extend a petition for the calling of a referendum to revoke such official’s mandate. When a number of voters* equal to or greater than the number of those who elected the official* vote in favor of revocation, provided that a number of voters* equal to or greater than 25% of the total number of registered voters* have voted
in the revocation election, the official’s mandate shall be deemed revoked, and immediate action shall be taken to fill the permanent vacancy in accordance with the provided for in this Constitution and by law. The revocation of the mandate for the collegiate bodies shall be performed in accordance with the law. During the term to which the official* was elected, only one petition to recall may be filed.”
And here’s another Article that I would love to see implemented in Lebanon (and elsewhere): “Article 77: Marriage, which is based on free consent and absolute equality of rights and obligations of the spouses, is protected. A stable de facto union between a man and a woman which meets the requirements established by law shall have the same effects as marriage.” [Emphasis added.] In case you’re wondering: yes, Lebanese (civil and criminal) law clearly states different rights for wife and husband. And, since there is no civil marriage or civil divorce, there are different rights in the sectarian laws in the country.
Health as a right.
“Article 83: Health is a fundamental social right and the responsibility of the State, which shall guarantee it as part of the right to life. The State shall promote and develop policies oriented toward improving the quality of life, common welfare and access to services. All persons have the right to protection of health, as well as the duty to participate actively in the furtherance and protection of the same, and to comply with such health and hygiene measures as may be established by law, and in accordance with international conventions and treaties signed and ratified by the Republic.”
“Article 84: In order to guarantee the right to health, the State creates, exercises guidance over and administers a national public health system that crosses sector boundaries, and is decentralized and participatory in nature, integrated with the social security system and governed by the principles of gratuity, universality, completeness, fairness, social integration and solidarity. The public health system gives priority to promoting health and preventing disease, guaranteeing prompt treatment and quality rehabilitation. Public health assets and services are the property of the State and shall not be privatized. The organized community has the right and duty to participate in the making of decisions concerning policy planning, implementation and control at public health institutions.”
And look at this:
“Article 87: All persons have the right and duty to work. The State guarantees the adoption of the necessary measures so that every person shall be able to obtain productive work providing him or her with a dignified and decorous living and guarantee him or her the full exercise of this right. It is an objective of the State to promote employment. Measures tending to guarantee the exercise of the labor rights of self employed persons shall be adopted by law. Freedom to work shall be subject only to such restrictions as may be established by law. Every employer* shall guarantee employees* adequate safety, hygienic and environmental conditions on the job. The State shall adopt measures and create institutions such as to make it possible to control and promote these conditions. ”
“Article 88: The State guarantees the equality and equitable treatment of men and women in the exercise of the right to work. The state recognizes work at home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth. Housewives are entitled to Social Security in accordance with law.”
And – education is also provided.
“Article 102: Education is a human right and a fundamental social duty; it is democratic,
free of charge and obligatory. The State assumes responsibility for it as an irrevocable
function of the greatest interest, at all levels and in all modes, as an instrument of
scientific, humanistic and technical knowledge at the service of society. Education, is a
public service, and is grounded on the respect for all currents of thought, to the end of
developing the creative potential of every human being and the full exercise of his or her
personality in a democratic society based on the work ethic value and on active,
conscious and joint participation in the processes of social transformation embodied in
the values which are part of the national identity, and with a Latin American and
universal vision. The State, with the participation of families and society, promotes the
process of civic education in accordance with the principles contained in this Constitution
and in the laws.”
and there is this small article amidst the information on education:
“Article 107: Environmental education is obligatory in the various levels and modes of
the education system, as well as in informal civil education. Spanish, Venezuelan
geography and history and the principles of the Bolivarian thought shall be compulsory
courses at public and private institutions up to the diversified cycle level.”
Interesting that environmental education is obligatory.
And there is more — there is an entire section (Chapter IX) on environmental rights. I shall include it in the next post!