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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Sanctions: "US and some other Western countries must take responsibility and be held accountable"



At his regular press conference on March 20, 2023 People's Republic of China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin made important comments regarding the ongoing use of unilateral sanctions by the United States against a number of countries with often devastating human consequences. We post the question he was asked and his response here in full.

Global Times: Recently, UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures Alena Douhan expressed her concerns in a statement, noting that the US’s unilateral coercive measures like prohibiting entry into the US and freezing any assets with a US connection violate basic human rights of individuals and entities concerned including labor rights and freedom of movement. These measures may be incompatible with international human rights standards, she added. At the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on the right to food Michael Fakhri said that some countries today would only focus on unilateral coercive measures, which almost always resulted in human rights violations and weakened the ability of countries hit by those measures to respond to food crises. What’s China’s comment? 


Wang Wenbin: The concerns voiced by the UN special rapporteurs on unilateral coercive measures and the right to food call for attention from the international community. The US and some other Western countries claim to be “beacons of human rights”, but they have been imposing unilateral sanctions in the name of human rights and gravely violating other countries’ human rights. Relevant sanctions disrupt international economic, trade and sci-tech cooperation, threaten global food, energy and financial security, plunge the sanctioned countries into economic, social and livelihood difficulties, and even cause humanitarian crises. When countries were confronting ravaging COVID and natural disasters like powerful earthquakes, the US and some Western countries still refuse to remove unilateral sanctions. According to statistics, economic, financial and trade blockade the US has imposed on Cuba for over 60 years has cost Cuba over $154.2 billion. During the height of the pandemic in Iran, US unilateral sanctions, depriving the people of healthcare resources, could have caused up to 13,000 deaths. The US and some other Western countries must take responsibility and be held accountable for the systemic violation of human rights resulting from their unilateral sanctions.


The abuse of unilateral sanctions stems from power politics and the law of the jungle. It gravely violates the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the basic principle in international law of sovereign equality, and the basic norm governing international relations of non-interference in internal affairs. Rejecting unilateral sanctions is a longstanding and consistent appeal of the international community. Multilateral human rights institutions need to prioritize issues related to unilateral sanctions and take them seriously. We urge the US and other Western countries to face up to the call for justice in the world, immediately remove unilateral sanctions, respect other countries’ human rights and respect the international rule of law.

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