Activities of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights

  1. Shortly after assuming her mandate on 25 March 2020, in the face of unfolding COVID-19 pandemic emergency, the Special Rapporteur issued her first public statement, dated 3 April, urging to lift all unilateral sanctions that obstruct the humanitarian responses of sanctioned States, in order to enable their health care systems to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives. This was aligned with and echoed the 23 March statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to ease or suspend sanctions and the 26 March appeal of the UN Secretary General to waive sanctions that undermine countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic.
  2. On 14 April, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the UCM on the enjoyment of human rights, was interviewed by the Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BelTA). During the interview, BelTA covered the story about an appointment of the first representative of Belarus as the Special Rapporteur and Ms. Douhan’s role in the promotion and protection of human rights in general and, in particular, during current COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. On 17 April, the Special Rapporteur endorsed a joint statement by a number of Special Procedures mandate holders calling on Governments to avoid the use of excessive force in implementing COVID-19 security measures.
  4. On 17 April, the Special Rapporteur responded to the welcoming letter from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by sharing her mandate’s plans and offering her expertise, any technical or practical assistance and support in the High Commissioner’s efforts to further prevent adverse consequences of UCM for multilateralism, international law, international rule of law, the UN Charter and human rights.
  5. On 21 April, the Special Rapporteur jointly with a group of other Special Rapporteurs and independent experts transmitted an urgent appeal to the Government of the United States of America concerning the alleged ongoing severe impact of its unilateral economic coercive measures that your Government has imposed on Cuba and on the citizens of Cuba in the context of the unprecedented global health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  6. The Special Rapporteur held virtual meetings with the Permanent Representatives of Syria on 22 April and Iran on 24 April and 22 May.
  7. On 22 April, the Special Rapporteur participated in the virtual meeting of the UN Special Procedures and participated in the preparation of the Special Procedures COVID-19 survey.
  8. On 30 April, the Government of Venezuela confirmed its previous invitation to the Special Rapporteur to undertake and official visit the country. The official visit is planned to take place from 3 to 14 August.
  9. On 30 April, the Special Rapporteur issued a joint public statement calling on the United States to lift its economic and financial embargo on Cuba that is obstructing humanitarian responses to help the country’s health care system fight the COVID-19 pandemic. She urged the US Government to withdraw measures aimed at establishing trade barriers, and ban tariffs, quotas, non-tariff measures, including those which prevent financing the purchase of medicine, medical equipment, food and other essential goods.
  10. On 1 May, the Special Rapporteur issued COVID-19 Human Rights Guidance Note, calling inter alia to lift or at least suspend any sanctions impeding trade in or delivery of essential humanitarian goods and commodities, such as medicine, antiviral, medical equipment, its component parts and relevant software, food; as well as review and minimize the whole scope of unilateral sanctions in order to enable sanctioned states to ensure the effective protection of their population during COVID-19, to repair their economy and to guarantee the well-being of their people in the aftermath of the pandemic.
  11. On 4 May, the Special Rapporteur sent to all Permanent Missions in Geneva a questionnaire and on 6 May, the Special Rapporteur issued on the same matter a call for submission  for her study on the “Impact of unilateral sanctions on human rights during the state of emergency in the context of COVID-19 pandemic”. The study will feed into the Special Rapporteurs 1st thematic report to the GA in October 2020.
  12. On 22 May, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter to the High Commissioner for Refugees inviting him to collaborate in exploring the links between UCM that negatively impact the enjoyment of human rights on the one hand, and the flight of refugees and their subsequent experience on the other. 
  13. On 28 May, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter to the President of the Council expressing her deep concern that there is no reference in the current text of Presidential Statement on the Human Rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic to the need to lift or at least suspend any sanctions impeding trade in or delivery of essential humanitarian goods and commodities, such as medicine, antiviral, medical equipment, its component parts and relevant software, personal protective equipment, food, that undermines inter alia the ability of sanctioned states to accomplish their responsibility to protect rights of their respected population.
  14. On 2 June, the Special Rapporteur participated as panellist in a webinar on “The Impact of UCM on the Global Fight Against the COVID-19: Upholding the UN Charter, Promoting International Cooperation and Ensuring No One is Left Behind in Times of Pandemic.”
  15. On 04 June, the Special Rapporteur wrote a letter to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism to propose cooperation with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism. She noted that sanctions implemented to combat terrorism in support of the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy may undermine certain goals of the Strategy by contributing to conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism and by negatively impacting human rights.
  16. On 17 June, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter to the Chair of the Special Committee on the Charter of the UN and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, and of its Working Group of the Whole, to propose cooperation in areas of mutual interest. These include the impact of sanctions regimes on third countries and the overall transparency of sanctions regimes.
  17. On 18 June, the Government of Qatar confirmed its invitation to the Special Rapporteur to undertake an official country visit. It is planned to take place from 1 to 12 November 2020.
  18. On 23 June, the Special Rapporteur attended virtual OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension meeting on Freedom of Expression, Media and Information. She made a presentation on unilateral sanctions and access to information in the global fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
  19. On 25 June, the Special Rapporteur held virtual meeting with Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, the Under Secretary General and the head of the UN Office on Counter terrorism. Both discussed the cooperation and engagement of the mandate in implementation of the Global Counter terrorism strategy.


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Ms. Alena Douhan
Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights
Palais des Nations CH-1211 Geneva 10
Email : ucm@ohchr.org

Sharof Azizov
Human Rights Officer
Office 5-05, Avenue Giuseppe Motta 48, 1202 Genève, Switzerland
Email : sazizov@ohchr.org