Diego Enrique Arria Salicetti is a Venezuelan politician, diplomat, and former Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1991–1993) and President of the Security Council (March 1992). He was Governor of the Federal District of Caracas in the mid-1970s and has since been a Diplomatic Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. Arria is a critic of former President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and denounced him at the International Criminal Court at the Hague for crimes against humanity.
In 1973, Arria was elected as a member of the National Congress, representing the state of Miranda. Shortly after Carlos Andrés Pérez (CAP) was elected president in March 1974 he was appointed Governor of the Federal District (Caracas), at a time when this was one of the most important presidential appointments. In 1976 he travelled to Chile to negotiate the release of Orlando Letelier, a colleague at the Inter-American Development Bank, from imprisonment by President Pinochet. When Letelier was later killed by a car bomb, Arria intervened again to bring his body to be buried in Caracas.
He moved from the governorship to become Minister of Information and Tourism in February 1977. He resigned on 17 March 1978 to stand as an independent candidate in the Venezuelan presidential election of the same year. As part of his campaign he published two books: “Primero La Gente” (“The People First”) and “Dedicación a una Causa” (“Dedication to a Cause”).
Arria was the Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations from 1991 to 1993, and President of the Security Council in March 1992. He was therefore President during the massacres at Srebrenica – after visiting the enclave, he had warned of its impending doom and predicted the massacres, calling it “slow motion Genocide” and the besieged enclave “a concentration camp policed by UNPROFOR.”
Arria later became a Special Advisor to Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the UN. He initiated the eponymous Arria formula, an informal consultation process which affords members of the Security Council the opportunity to hear persons in a confidential setting. Arria has described this formula as a way of ensuring that members ‘have to be honest’.
In 2012, Arria was an independent candidate for the presidential nomination of the Coalition for Democratic Unity in the Venezuelan presidential election. Primary elections were held on February 12, 2012, with Henrique Capriles Radonski winning nomination.
Arria has been a Director at The Columbus Group and is a member of the UN Watch advisory board as well as Chair of UN Watch’s campaign to expel Maduro from the United Nations Human Rights Council.