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Zimbabwe: Expert calls for lifting of unilateral sanctions, urges talks

HARARE (28 October 2021) – The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Alena Douhan, called for the lifting of unilateral sanctions against Zimbabwe, and urged meaningful structured dialogue on political reform, human rights and the rule of law.

Following a two-week visit to Zimbabwe, the independent expert said that unilateral sanctions and over-compliance with sanctions in their complexity had exacerbated pre-existing social and economic challenges with devastating consequences for the people of Zimbabwe, especially those living in poverty, women, children, elderly, people with disabilities as well as marginalized and other vulnerable groups.

Douhan visited Harare and Bulawayo, and held meetings with State officials, members of civil society, trade unions, faith-based organisations, political parties, private companies and business associations, the diplomatic corps and other stakeholders. She extends her appreciation for the invitation and active participation of the Government, as well as for the collaboration of all parties who actively engaged with her, which enabled her to objectively assess the situation based on the facts presented.

“Over the last 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over-compliance with sanctions have had an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment,” Douhan said.

“This situation also limits Zimbabwe’s ability to guarantee the functioning of public institutions, delivery of services, and maintenance of essential infrastructure, and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals.”

She said many companies, as well as foreign banks, applied zero-risk policies and were overly compliant fearing heavy penalties for breaching sanctions. This has resulted in inefficient high-cost bank transactions, serious challenges in accessing credit lines and major disruptions in supply-chains, which impinge the ability to secure infrastructure financing and business continuity. Sanctions are also fuelling corruption and money laundering, and over-reliance in the informal sector, Douhan said.

“The US and other States should lift their sanctions on targeted individuals and entities and end over-compliance,” she said. “The time is ripe for sanctioning States and key national stakeholders to engage in a meaningful structured dialogue on political reform, human rights and the rule of law, and abandon rhetoric on sanctions as an advocacy tool,” she said.

The Special Rapporteur will present her concluding observations in a report to the Human Rights Council in September 2022.

Read her report from this mission here.

ENDS

Ms Alena Douhan (Belarus) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the Human Rights Council in March 2020. Ms. Douhan has extensive experience in the fields of international law and human rights as, a Professor of international law at the Belarusian State University (Minsk), a visiting Professor at the the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed conflict, (Bochum, Germany) and the Director of the Peace Research Centre (Minsk). She received her PhD at the Belarusian State University in 2005 and obtained Dr. hab. in International Law and European Law in 2015 (Belarus). Ms. Douhan’s academic and research interests are in the fields of international law, sanctions and human rights law, international security law, law of international organizations, international dispute settlement, and international environmental law. 

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Renato Rosario De Souza (renato.rosariodesouza@un.org) or Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 79 444 7578 / jeremy.laurence@un.org).

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.
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