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Ambassador Zhang Jun: Unilateral coercive measures are turning a health crisis into a moral crisis

2021-06-03 11:47

On June 3, the Permanent Mission of China co-hosted the virtual webinar on “the impact of unilateral coercive measures on national health systems of targeted developing countries” with the Permanent Missions of Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Nearly 100 representatives from Member States, the UN system and media attended the event. Ambassador Zhang Jun stressed in his remarks that unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) are illegal, unjustified and unreasonable, and are turning a health crisis into a moral crisis.

Ambassador Zhang said that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Many places are witnessing a surge of new cases. New variants that are more contagious have emerged. Vaccine divide is widening. At this critical juncture, UCMs imposed by some countries are still in place, undermining global response and threatening the health of people of targeted countries. UCMs are illegal, unjustified and unreasonable. While the pandemic is natural, UCMs are man-made and turning a health crisis into a moral crisis.

—UCMs violate international law. The UN Charter stipulates that States have the duty “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors”. No State shall apply domestic law to exercise long-arm jurisdiction over other countries. Such practices seriously violate the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the fundamental principle of sovereign equality in international law and the basic principle of non-interference in international relations. What should be pointed out is that some countries are even using unilateral sanctions to suppress legitimate governments of other States and incite “color revolution” and regime change. Some countries also use UCMs as their tool for unfair economic and scientific competitions. There is no doubt the law of the jungle as such contradicts the trend of democracy in international relations and should be discarded by history.

—UCMs result in human rights crisis. According to UN reports, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, no “high values” could justify the violation of fundamental human rights, including the right to life, the right to health and the right to food. The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 has revealed the depth of the problem and shows clearly that UCMs can be deadly, especially for women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable population. It is obvious that trade ban, investment restriction, market disruption and other UCMs imposed by the US and other western countries are severely undermining economic development and people’s livelihood in targeted countries. Some western countries impose UCMs in the name of democracy and human rights, but what we are seeing is the systematic violation of basic human rights. It is time that such hypocritical tricks come to an end.

—UCMs worsen humanitarian crisis. The Secretary- General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have repeatedly called for the lifting of unilateral sanctions to meet humanitarian needs. In reality, humanitarian assistance and trade in goods, such as medical equipment and parts, software, drug and food, is constantly interrupted or restricted. Some countries keep talking about international humanitarian law, but never implement it. This is nothing but politicization and double standard.

Ambassador Zhang pointed out that, a just cause enjoys abundant support, while an unjust one finds little. Unilateral sanctions are strongly opposed by the international community. The UNGA has adopted resolutions against “unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries” every two years since 1989, on “necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the US against Cuba” each year since 1992, and on “human rights and unilateral coercive measures” each year since 1997. Among the 16 communications publicized by the Special Rapporteur on UCMs, 12 are addressed to the US. We urge the US and some other western countries to listen to the overwhelming voice of the international community, lift the UCMs, uphold global solidarity against the pandemic, and practice true multilateralism.

We call on the General Assembly, the Security Council, ECOSOC and the Human Rights Council to step up assessment on the negative impacts of UCMs and put forth targeted solutions.

We call on the Member States, the UN system and other international organizations to fully support the countries under UCMs, especially in their response to the pandemic.

We call on the civil society, private sector, academia, media and other stakeholders to follow the issue and make joint appeal for lifting UCMs.

We urge all countries to abide by the purpose and principles of the UN Charter, uphold true Multilateralism and the international order underpinned by international law. The social systems and development paths independently chosen by people of all countries based on their national conditions should be fully respected. We should strongly oppose hegemony and bullying practices.

Ambassador Zhang stressed that China will continue to stand on the side of true multilateralism, the majority of the Member States, and fairness and justice. China will continue to fight the pandemic with the international community. We have provided vaccine assistance to over 80 developing countries, exported vaccine to 43 countries, more than 350 million doses in total. We have delivered 2 billion dollars of foreign aid to other developing countries affected by the pandemic, and provided medical supplies to more than 150 countries and 13 international organizations.

We call for international solidarity and cooperation to win an early victory against the pandemic, and strive to build a community of shared future and health for all.

The panel consisted of H.E Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana, UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Ms. Alena Douhan, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Mr. Zamir Akram, Chair-Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council Working Group on the Right to Development, and Dr. Janet Blake, Professor of International and Human Rights Law, University of Shahid Beheshti. Representatives of countries including Russia, Cuba and Pakistan took the floor and emphasized that UCMs seriously violate international law and the UN Charter, undermine international solidarity and cooperation, and jeopardize the joint efforts of Member States to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the context of COVID-19, UCMs severely affect the capacity of targeted countries in their response to the pandemic, lead to the deterioration of humanitarian situations, and seriously violate the right to life, health, development, education and other human rights of their people. They urged relevant countries to immediately lift UCMs and called for greater international attention on UCMs.

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