US Venezuela Sanctions Violate Human Rights, International Law: UN Expert

UN expert Idriss Jazairy stated that unilateral measures are against the U.N.’s Declaration on the Principles of International Law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among States.


The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, expressed deep concern on Monday about the recent measures against Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran by the United States, arguing the use of economic sanctions for political purposes violates human rights and international law.

“The resort by a major power of its dominant position in the international financial arena against its own allies to cause economic hardship to the economy of sovereign states is contrary to international law, and inevitably undermines the human rights of their citizens,” the Special Rapporteur said.

The international expert stated unilateral measures are against the UN’s Declaration on the Principles of International Law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among States. The resolution, in accordance with the international body’s Charter, was adopted by the General Assembly on October 1970, and it affirms “the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State.”

On this matter, Jazairy focused on the 150 sanction designations issued by the US Treasury Department against Venezuelan individuals and companies since 2017 via Executive Orders and the Kingpin Act. US officials have said that sanctions are meant to pressure the Maduro government. Sanctions were significantly ramped up since the self-proclamation of Juan Guaido as “interim president” on January 23, with US support, and have targeted sectors such as banking and oil.

A recent report titled ‘Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela’, written by Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, revealed that 40,000 people may have died in the Latin American nation in the last two years as a consequence of US sanctions. 

Caracas has also denounced the freezing of billions worth of Venezuelan assets held abroad, which have made operations such as food and medicine imports more difficult. “It is hard to figure out how measures which have the effect of destroying Venezuela’s economy can be aimed at ‘helping the Venezuelan people’, as claimed by the US Treasury,” Jazairy added.

Jazairy also denounced the implementation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, though which US citizens can sue foreign citizens and companies in US courts if they have any dealings in properties that were nationalized after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

“The international community must come together to challenge what amounts to blockades ignoring a country’s sovereignty, the human rights of its people, and the rights of third countries trading with sanctioned States, all while constituting a threat to world peace and security”, the UN expert concluded. 

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