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Statements Special Procedures

Genuine solidarity with earthquake survivors calls for lifting of sanction-induced restrictions: UN experts

10 February 2023

GENEVA (10 February 2023): Extending their heartfelt support to the people of Türkiye and Syria, UN experts* today urged the international community to take prompt action to enable effective emergency response and recovery in the wake of catastrophic earthquakes in the two countries. “This includes the lifting of all economic and financial restrictions caused by unilateral sanctions against Syria, during this time of sorrow and human suffering,” the UN experts said. They issue the following joint statement:

“We wish to express our unwavering support and solidarity to the hundreds of thousands affected by the recent devastating earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye, and to all those from inside and abroad who have responded to the call and conducted emergency response operations and provided life-saving assistance in the spirit of human altruism and solidarity.

For such interventions to be effective, there is a need for an enabling environment for international cooperation and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, including of food, medicines, medical equipment, and construction material, among others, as well as unimpeded financial flows to support such assistance, all of which are constrained by current sanctions regimes against countries, such as Syria.

We welcome recent decisions to ease Syria sanctions through general licenses. However, we wish to recall that such systems of humanitarian carve-outs may not be sufficient to address the long term negative effects of sanctions, as well as business over-compliance with sanctions and financial de-risking

Even during natural disasters, when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake, it is gravely concerning that humanitarian actors face persisting challenges due to sanctions, including with regard to procurement procedures and bank transfers. It is reported that the Syrian diaspora is unable to provide financial support through remittances or other means of funding.

It is imperative for the international community and in particular sanctioning states to undertake prompt action by putting an end to unilateral sanctions against Syria, a country deprived of critical infrastructure and in dire need of recovery and reconstruction, following the decade-long war.

We extend our appeal to businesses and financial institutions and urge them to take appropriate mitigating measures to ensure the protection of human rights, in accordance with international law, including by eliminating practices of over-compliance with sanctions and of de-risking.”

The experts: Alena Douhan, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Livingstone SewanyanaIndependent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Balakrishan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Obiora C. Okafor, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity

The 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 more information and media request please contact: Damianos Serefidis ([email protected])

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

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