Time to Toss US Sanctions in the Nearest Dustbin
TEHRAN (FNA)- Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, has made a joint statement at the General Debate of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, on behalf of 26 countries, criticizing the United States and Western countries for violating human rights, calling for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral sanctions, and expressing grave concern on systematic racial discrimination.
This came as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to severely affect all nations, in particular the developing countries in the Middle East. Their response to and recovery from COVID-19 requires global solidarity and international cooperation. However, the United States continues to apply unilateral coercive measures, which are contrary to the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and international law, multilateralism and the basic norms of international relations.
The international civil society is in agreement that unilateral coercive measures have an undeniable impact on human rights, as they impede the full realization of social and economic development and hinder the well-being of the population in the affected countries.
As well, unilateral coercive measures by the US undermine the right to health, as they encumber access to medicines and medical technologies, equipment, and supplies, not just with regard to such states as Iran, Cuba or North Korea, but also specially in war-torn countries like Yemen and Syria. This is particularly relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. UN senior officials and the international community have recognized the heavy, negative impact of these measures on the long-suffering people of Yemen and Syria.
The world is also in agreement that US sanctions have failed to advance its regime change goals, and they have only provoked growing tensions with US trading partners across the world. Although food and medicines are technically exempt from sanctions, US sanctions against banks make it impossible to process payments for imported goods, and that includes food and medicine. The resulting shortage of medicines has caused thousands of preventable deaths in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere, where the victims are ordinary working people, women, children and the elderly.
US mainstream media have also been complicit in the pretense that US sanctions are a non-violent tool to inflict pressure on targeted governments in order to force some kind of democratic regime change. They rarely mention their deadly impact on ordinary people, instead blaming the resulting economic crises solely on the governments being targeted.
US officials claim that sanctions benefit the people of these countries by pushing them to rise up and overthrow their governments. Denis Halliday was a UN Assistant Secretary-General who served as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq and resigned from the UN in protest at the brutal sanctions on Iraq in 1998. He, however, has a different view.
He says sanctions, when imposed by the UN Security Council or by the US on a sovereign country, are a form of warfare, a blunt weapon that inevitably punishes innocent citizens. If they are deliberately extended when their deadly consequences are known, sanctions can be deemed genocide.
No doubt, US economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with sieges of countries. They attempt to bring sovereign countries to their knees, and that’s illegal under fundamental norms of the International Criminal Court, which maintain that US sanctions are a crime against humanity.
US sanctions also violate the UN Charter, which explicitly prohibits intervention for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state. It adds that it prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.
It is about time that the world community condemns all US unilateral sanctions. The US government is responsible for its deadly, illegal and ineffective economic warfare at the heart of the ongoing humanitarian crises in the Middle East, and it should be held to account.
The United Nations should further implement the recently adopted General Assembly resolution on a comprehensive and coordinated response to COVID-19, which strongly urges the United States and its allies to refrain from promulgating and applying their illegal economic, financial or trade measures. They also know fully well that their unilateral sanctions are not in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.