UN Human Rights Council calls for abolition of unilateral sanctions

by Eva-Maria Föllmer-Müller

With an overwhelming majority, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution (A/HRC/52/L.18) on “The negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” on 3 April 2023. The resolution calls for the lifting of unilateral coercive measures in violation of international law. These are all sanctions without a UN Security Council decision.

According to the resolution, the Council “urges all States to stop adopting, maintaining, implementing or complying with unilateral coercive measures not in accordance with international law, international humanitarian law, the Charter of the United Nations and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States.” The Human Rights Council “requests the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights to continue her work on identifying and proposing concrete measures to ensure the removal of unilateral coercive measures and to focus on the resources and compensation necessary to promote accountability and reparations for victims.” (UN Meeting summaries, 3 April 2023)
  The resolution was initiated by Azerbaijan on behalf of the States Members of the UN that are members of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the Russian Federation presently not a member of the Human Rights Council.

The results of the vote or:
The West vs. the “rest of the world”

Of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council, 33 countries voted in favour of the resolution, 13 countries against, with one abstention:
  In favour (33): Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

  Against (13): Belgium, Czechia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
  Abstentions (1): Mexico.
  Ben Norten, investigative journalist and editor of Geopolitical Economy Report, writes: “According to a 2021 Treasury review, 9,421 parties were sanctioned by the US government at the end of that year, a staggering 933 % increase since 2000.
  More than one-third of the global population lives in countries that are suffering under sanctions.” (geopoliticaleconomy.com of 6 April 2023)
  In 2022 alone, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued 2,549 new designations (i.e., imposition of full blocking sanctions on individuals or entities). Of the 2,549 new designations last year, 1,772 alone were “Russia-program-specific”.
  Actually, the adopted resolution is nothing extraordinary, because the approving states demand nothing more than compliance with international law. The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Alena Douhan, has been tirelessly pointing out the devastating and deadly effects of sanctions in her reports and statements since she took up her function in March 2020. So have numerous international lawyers, scholars, journalists such as Hans Köchler, Alfred de Zayas, Hans von Sponeck, Hannes Hofbauer, Karin Leukefeld, to name just a few. Again and again, they also have their say in Current Concerns.
  There are already numerous resolutions calling for the abolition of sanctions: by the UN General Assembly, by the Human Rights Council and its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, as well as at the UN conferences of the 1990s, which also condemn sanctions that are contrary to international law. Their devastating effects have been known for a long time. It is all the more important to note that, in addition to their abolition, all states are demanded not to comply with the unilateral sanctions and that the victims have a right to reparation.
  There is an explicit emphasis that decrees which are based on the extraterritorial application of national legislation are against international law (greetings from “rules-based order”). Explicitly, sanctions must not be used as a means of political or economic pressure. The fact that Alena Douhan gets moral support for her difficult task concerning this resolution is a blessing for all sanction-harassed humans, peoples and countries.  •

Source: www.express.at of 7 April 2023

UN Human Rights Council – Resolution A/HRC/52/L.18 (Excerpts)

“The Human Rights Council,

  • Stressing that unilateral coercive measures and legislation and secondary sanctions are contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, the Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States,
  • Deeply disturbed by the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the right to life, the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and medical care, the right to freedom from hunger and the right to an adequate standard of living, food, education, work and housing, as well as the right to development and the right to a clean, health and sustainable environment,
  • Highlighting the need for the Human Rights Council to take fully into account the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, including that caused by the enactment and extraterritorial application of national laws and decisions that are not in conformity with the Charter and international law,
  • Highlighting the need to monitor and report human rights violations associated with unilateral coercive measures, to promote accountability to deter future violations and to provide redress for victims,
  • Recalling also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, according to which, inter alia, in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence and its fundamental rights,
  • Urges all States to stop adopting, maintaining, implementing or complying with unilateral coercive measures not in accordance with international law, international humanitarian law, the Charter of the United Nations and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States, in particular those of a coercive nature with extraterritorial effects, which create obstacles to trade relations among States, thus impeding the full realization of the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, in particular the right of individuals and peoples to development;
  • Strongly condemns the continued unilateral application and enforcement by certain powers of such measures as tools of pressure, including political and economic pressure, against any country, particularly against least developed and developing countries, with a view to preventing these countries from exercising their right to decide, of their own free will, their own political, economic and social systems;
  • Invites the Special Rapporteur to engage with scholars, researchers and others in the academic community to encourage research that is relevant to the mandate, including but not limited to the areas of law, economics, political science, social science, medicine and agriculture, and also through the establishment of a sanctions research platform;
  • Requests the Secretary-General to provide the assistance necessary to the Special Rapporteur to fulfil her mandate effectively, in particular by placing adequate human and material resources at her disposal;”

Source: Res. A/HRC/52/L.18;

According to a study conducted by the Austrian opinion research institute INSA in early April 2023, 41 % of Austrians call for an end to EU sanctions against Russia. A striking number of young Austrians (16–29 years), namely 39 %, call for an end to anti-Russia sanctions.

Source: www.express.at of 7 April 2023

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