Statement urges lifting of unilateral sanctions

The United Nations headquarters in Geneva where the 45th regular session of the Human Rights Council is taking place. Photo: Unsplash/Mat Reding
The United Nations headquarters in Geneva where the 45th regular session of the Human Rights Council is taking place. Photo: Unsplash/Mat Reding

LWF joins faith-based organizations at Human Rights Council warning of impact on most vulnerable people

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has joined with other faith-based organizations to underline the negative impact that sanctions have on the most vulnerable members of society.

In a statement delivered to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 22 September, the group of six Christian organizations says it is “deeply concerned about the negative economic, social and humanitarian consequences of unilateral sanctions, especially those introduced without and beyond the authorization of the Security Council.”

The statement, delivered by the global Catholic aid and development confederation Caritas Internationalis, came as part of an interactive dialogue with the UN’s special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. It notes that, as organizations working in “complex and challenging humanitarian contexts,” they have seen first-hand the negative impact that sanctions have on their ability to “effectively reach people in need and provide them with critical life-saving assistance.”

First, do no harm

LWF’s Chey Mattner, head of operations for the Department of World Service, said:

“Imposing sanctions because of a gripe between countries will always have a profoundly deep impact on people far removed from the issue in the first place. How can we condone these games at a time when countries should be putting their differences aside for the sake of others, especially the forgotten?”

How can we condone these games at a time when countries should be putting their differences aside for the sake of others, especially the forgotten?
Chey MATTNER, LWF World Service Head of Operations

The joint statement highlights that, as a direct consequence of sanctions in some countries, essential items such as food, water, medicines and medical equipment for COVID 19 “could not be delivered on time affecting families and vulnerable people in need.” It continues: “Depriving people of their fundamental human rights and dignity, even if unintended, is unacceptable and violates the essential humanitarian principle of ‘First, do no harm’.”

The group of six church-related organizations calls for unilateral sanctions to be lifted, or at least significantly relaxed and urges governments to avoid imposing any future sanctions that are not in accordance with international law. All too often, the statement concludes, “sanctions have proven to be part of the problem, not the solution.”