Venezuela Welcomes UN Resolution Calling to Eliminate Sanctions

Calls for sanctions relief are also gaining steam in Washington DC.

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The UN resolution was approved with 30 votes in favor, 15 against, and two abstentions. (UN)
The UN resolution was approved with 30 votes in favor, 15 against, and two abstentions. (UN)
By Andreína Chávez Alava
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Guayaquil, Ecuador, March 25, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution on Tuesday urging all States to stop adopting unilateral sanctions as “tools of political and economic pressure.”

The text was approved with 30 votes in favor, 15 against, and two abstentions during the Human Rights Council 46th session in Geneva. Among the nations that supported the document were China, Russia, and Cuba, Venezuelan allies also subjected to US sanctions. European countries and Brazil were among those who opposed the resolution, while Armenia and Mexico were the only ones to abstain.

The approved document stressed that unilateral sanctions are not in accordance with international law and the UN Charter, "in particular those of a coercive nature with extraterritorial effect,” given they create obstacles to trade relations among states and impede "the right of individuals and peoples to development."

The UN body went on to stress the negative consequences of unilateral sanctions on the civilian population of targeted countries, reaffirming “the right of all peoples to self-determination” and urging perpetrators to put “an immediate end” to the measures.

Furthermore, the resolution highlighted the need to implement an "impartial and independent mechanism" within the UN system to generate accountability and reparations for the victims of unilateral coercive measures.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrated the resolution’s adoption and the vindication of "the undeniable criminal damage" of unilateral sanctions "against the lives of Venezuelans and free nations of the world".

The South American country has consistently blasted the United States and European Union (EU) sanctions for aiming to force regime-change. Authorities have also said the coercive measures have hampered the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza echoed that the resolution emphasizes the obvious negative impact of coercive measures and argued that all nations that voted against it "should lose their seat on the [UN Human Rights] Council due to elementary ethics."

The Human Rights Council followed other UN instances in condemning sanctions against Venezuela. In February, Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan published a preliminary report urging the US and EU to drop all sanctions against Venezuela. After a 12-day visit to the country, the human rights expert attested that coercive measures have damaged "public and private sectors, Venezuela citizens, non-governmental organizations, third-country nationals, and companies."

According to Douhan, the blockade has severely affected the country’s oil revenues, while additionally prohibiting the Venezuelan state from acquiring spare parts for its industries, medicine, and food, with a reported 2.5 million Venezuelans being severely food insecure.

Unilateral measures from Washington and its allies were likewise under the spotlight on Wednesday as the Argentinian government announced its withdrawal from the right-wing Lima Group. Buenos Aires condemned the sanctions and destabilization attempts against Venezuela, which “have affected the human rights of the Venezuelan population and in particular its most vulnerable sectors."

Calls for sanctions relief have likewise grown louder in Washington, with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy penning a letter urging the Biden administration to lift the ban on diesel swaps “to provide lifesaving relief for millions of Venezuelans."

His petition adds to a previous request led by fellow Democratic representatives Elizabeth Warren, Ilhan Omar, and Jesús García for an overhaul of US sanctions on other nations.

The ban on crude-for-diesel exchanges between PDVSA and a host of multinational corporations was imposed by the outgoing Trump administration in October 2020 and has left Venezuela suffering from severe diesel shortages, the main fuel used for transporting food and medicine in the country.

"There seems to be a growing pressure from Congress on the Biden administration to limit the use of US sanctions and, more broadly, to start assessing the humanitarian impact of existing sanctions," Kevin Cashman, Senior Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), explained to Venezuelanalysis.

He recalled that "as economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot found in a 2019 report, sanctions on Venezuela likely led to tens of thousands of deaths, mainly by drastically reducing oil production."

Cashman added that as the Biden administration conducts its sanctions policy review, it will “hopefully read the writing on the wall” and put an end to measures that "collectively punish the Venezuelan population."

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.

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