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Iran Sponsors UN Event, Denouncing Impact of Unilateral Sanctions on Health Systems and Development

June 4, 2021 (EIRNS)—Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations yesterday sponsored a virtual event to denounce the effects of Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCM)—sanctions—on the healthcare systems and humanitarian aid of several countries, constituting what Tehran’s Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi termed “crimes against humanity.” Ambassador Samuel Moncada of Venezuela, one of the event’s cosponsors, likewise referred to the UCMs as “the next level of silent weapons of mass destruction in the field of public health.” Cuba, Zimbabwe and Syria co-hosted the event, which also attended by representatives of China, Russia, the U.K., the U.S., and the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

Ravanchi attacked the claim that there are exemptions for financial transactions and humanitarian aid in the sanctions regime, saying that that is only true “on paper,” reported Tasnim news agency. In the midst of the COVID pandemic, he went on, the health of Iranians has been severely affected because sanctions make it impossible to obtain medicine and medical supplies required to treat COVID, as well as many other conditions. Ambassador Zhang Jun of China put it this way: “unilateral sanctions are illegal,” and “man-made,” he said, and should be lifted so that humanitarian needs can be met and multilateralism upheld.

Discussion focused on the fact that unilateral sanctions violate human rights by obstructing access to updated health systems, technology and humanitarian aid, needed to sustain global infrastructure, Sputnik International reported. The impact on international healthcare systems has been particularly acute during the COVID pandemic. Panelists from the Human Rights Council elaborated as well that obstruction of humanitarian aid negatively impacts nations’ right to development, access to healthcare and right to self-determination, which is a violation of humanitarian rights and policies established by the UN Charter and the Human Rights Council. Russia, China and Iran together urged the U.S., the U.K., the EU and other countries to cease enforcing the UCMs, because of their impact on the healthcare systems of targeted developing nations.

Russian Deputy Representative Dmitry Chumakov charged that sanctions are being used for political purposes, offering the example of sanctions placed on Cuban medical teams who provided assistance to countries whose own health systems didn’t allow them to provide adequate care to their populations during the pandemic. He also denounced the effect of sanctions on Syria whose Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh stated that “any mention of the humanitarian exemption are an illusion created to divert public opinion from the unjust reality caused by these actions,” reported Sputnik.

Zamir Akram, the chair rapporteur of the HRC affirmed that “the issue of health is a fundamental aspect of internationally-recognized human rights. Countries have the right to cooperate with each other in ensuring development and eliminating the obstacles to development.” He described UN resolution 39/9 as a binding instrument meant to legally address the impact that UCMs have on the right to development and suggested that this is one means of combatting the negative impact of sanctions. David Kinna, First Secretary of the U.K. UN mission, pathetically claimed that sanctions are only used as “a targeted foreign policy tool to deter behavior” and stop human rights violations.

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