Iran and 25 other nations have called for the immediate lifting of sanctions by the United States and other Western countries to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on behalf of the 26 countries at a meeting of the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said “unilateral coercive measures” violate the UN Charter, multilateralism, and impede human rights by hindering “the well-being of the population in the affected countries” and undermining the right to health.
The joint statement said “global solidarity and international cooperation are the most powerful weapons in fighting and overcoming COVID-19.”
“We seize this opportunity to call for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures, in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to COVID-19.”
Among the countries that backed the statement were half a dozen that face sanctions by the United States, European Union or other Western nations including Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Syria and Venezuela.
The statement notes that both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet have called for the waiving of sanctions that undermine a country’s capacity to respond to the pandemic.
The 26 countries also took aim at “chronic and deep-rooted racial discrimination, police brutality and social inequality.”
They cited the shooting by police of two Black Americans, George Floyd who died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis in May, and Jacob Blake, shot by a white police officer in August and left paralyzed from the waist down.
“The COVID-19 mortality rate of minorities, in particular people of African descent, is disproportionately high in some countries,” their statement said.