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Side Event: Impact of UCMS on the right to development and implementation of sustainable development goals


28 March 2023


Room XXII - Palais des Nations, Geneva

This side event sought to raise awareness about and strengthen knowledge of the impact of unilateral coercive measures on people’s enjoyment of their right to development, as well as on programmes under the United Nations umbrella in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Outline and purpose

This side event was organized at the initiative of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Professor Alena Douhan.

The Special Rapporteur would like to invited all interested parties to a side event within the margins of the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council, on the impacts of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, with a focus on the consequences for and impediments to the right to development as well as the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The event featured a panel of experts in the field of the right to development, and those working on implementation of the 2030 agenda of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the 169 associated targets1, which include inter alia the eradication of poverty and hunger, reaching the highest possible level of healthcare and combatting inequalities within and among countries. The side event also focused on strides and challenges caused by unilateral sanctions and over-compliance in achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, humanitarian and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner.

In line with HRC resolutions 27/21 and 45/5, the expected outcome of the side event, in the form of an evidence-based assessment and related recommendations, will assist the Special Rapporteur: i) to collect stakeholders’ experiences on the impacts of unilateral coercive measures on lasting national and regional development; ii) to build cooperation with stakeholders working on issues of development and implementation of SDGs; iii) to assess impediments due to unilateral coercive measures, secondary sanctions and over-compliance2 to the implementation of development and SDG-related agendas at both the national and international levels.

Issues in focus
  • The impact of unilateral sanctions and over-compliance with sanctions on the right to development3 in its complexity in line with the 2030 agenda,4 which is aimed to eliminate discrimination and reduce inequality within and among countries; provide access to justice for all; and strengthen global partnership and cooperation for sustainable development; and on the possibility of implementation of development projects by a state or in cooperation with international organizations or other relevant actors in the face of unilateral sanctions;
  • The impact of unilateral sanctions and over-compliance with unilateral sanctions on humanitarian SDGs: eradication of extreme poverty; achievement of food security and improved nutrition; ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being; availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation.
  • The impact of unilateral sanctions and over-compliance with unilateral sanctions on the economic, environmental and infrastructure-building SDGs: ensuring free, equitable and quality education; ensuring access to energy; promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth; building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; providing access to justice for all;
  • The situation of people disproportionately affected by unilateral sanctions, but intended to be protected by SDGs, including inter alia women, children, persons with disabilities, persons with severe or chronic diseases, migrants and refugees.
  • The effectiveness or non-effectiveness of humanitarian exemptions from sanctions as a mechanism of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: facts and challenges, issues of responsibility and accountability.

1 SDGs and targets,

2 On the issue of secondary sanctions and over-compliance please see the Special Rapporteur’s thematic report to the 51st session of the Human Rights Council, at

3 See the press release on “Unilateral sanctions impinge on right to development”, 11 August 2021, as well as on “Unilateral sanctions hurt all, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups – UN human rights expert” 08 December 2021.

4 Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, at


The side event featured panel presentations by the invited experts, followed by Q&A session.

Statements and contributions



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Information about the SR and the Mandate

The Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights is part of the Special Procedures mechanism of the Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts mandated by the Council to report and provide advice from specific thematic or country-specific perspectives.

Information about the SR and the mandate:

Special Rapporteur’s Thematic Reports:

Special Rapporteur’s Country Visit Reports: