This opinion article was originally published in El Confidencial
The unilateral sanctions imposed by the USA, especially those aimed at undermining the foundations of the economy, decisively condition the efficiency of public services, the human rights and quality of life of citizens.
It is true that international sanctions may have some accidental efficacy, like the Anti-Apartheid Act 1986, that contributed to the suppression of the Apartheid in South Africa. It seems plausible that these would contribute to the adoption of an agreed denuclearization program in Iran, but it is indisputable that the great “vectors” of USA sanctions – generally oriented to the fall of hostile regimes – have been resounding failures that the USA and the International Community must assume with humility. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria have not modified their political architecture and the economic pillars and public services have been severely damaged. I prefer not to mention the Libyan hecatomb or the Iraqi catastrophe where a painful reconstruction begins.
The Special Rapporteur appointed by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, Idriss Jazairy, a great specialist and author on matters related to Human Rights, reflects on international sanctions in forceful terms and that I subscribe without palliative.
Coercion must ever be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state. The use of sanctions to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law.
Precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes. I call on States to engage in and facilitate constructive dialogues to find solutions which respect the human rights.
I urge all countries to avoid applying sanctions unless approved by the United Nations Security Council.
Apart from the political discourse of the sanctioning powers, there is a legal discourse that must deal with the protection of fundamental rights of the citizens residing in the sanctioned country. It must also address the limits of external interference in sovereign issues, besides pronounce from ethical-social approaches on the real effectiveness of coercive policies.
The sanctions aimed at provoking popular uprisings against a regime or political leaders detested by the USA lead to mass emigration, deterioration and impoverishment of citizens and strengthening the loyalty links to the system and its political leaders.
This last entry is a transcendental appreciation: the sanctions lead to a sustained loyalty of an appreciable mass of citizens to their leaders reviled by the sanctioning power.
And how is it possible that in a context of ostensible and progressive impoverishment of their citizenship sanctioned regimes firmly resist and achieve, in addition to loyalty to significant masses which are willing to defend the regime and country against possible foreign aggression like in Cuba and Syria?
It is clear that international sanctions open enormous uncertainties around their affectivity and legitimacy. Recently, I unearthed the scandalous case to ensure greater efficiency in the shipment of medicines to Iran, the Iranian Red Cross requested a large number of financial institutions to open a bank and operational account, with a sufficient number to address a sanitary emergency like the one that happened in the Bam earthquake (40,000 dead). No Spanish or European bank has allowed the opening of a bank account to the Red Cross (Red Crescent) Iranian. In the next emergency, the most urgent medicines will expire – as happened in Bam – with lethal consequences for thousands of citizens.
With this example, I would like to underline the importance of having legal teams that can deal with the international sanctions and especially the secondary sanctions of the USA that are usually accompanied by a number of diplomatic pressures that financial entities and other companies comply with docility the US orders. Unsuspecting scholars, such as Gary Clyde, have strongly criticized the capricious and erratic US sanctions and their proclivity to firmly sanction the authoritarian regimes of “weak” countries and never to strong dictatorships or its allies. They have also underlined the inefficiency of a good part of the international sanctions and the stance regarding arms and war.
The frustration of certain expectations of control or benefit over smaller countries should not encourage the “sanctioning” giants to deploy initiatives that ultimately only lead to the destruction of public services, and therefore, of human rights. As pointed out by the Special Rapporteur appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the resolution of conflicts must be based on finding solutions that respect the human rights of everyone.
Author: Lupicinio Rodriguez