UN Expert Urges to Lift Unilateral Sanctions Against Venezuela

Venezuelans wait outside the Federal Police office in the Brazilian border city of Pacaraima. The office is responsible for receiving Venezuelans seeking asylum or special permits to stay in Brazil. Photo: UNHCR / Reynesson Damasceno
Venezuelans wait outside the Federal Police office in the Brazilian border city of Pacaraima. The office is responsible for receiving Venezuelans seeking asylum or special permits to stay in Brazil. Photo: UNHCR / Reynesson Damasceno

Sanctions were first imposed against Venezuela in 2005 and have been severely strengthened since 2015.

The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, has urged the United States, European Union and other States to drop unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela.

At the end of a two-week visit to Venezuela, Douhan said on February 12 the sanctions have exacerbated pre-existing calamities. They have resulted in the economic, humanitarian and development crisis, with a devastating effect on the whole population of Venezuela, especially but not only those in extreme poverty, women, children, medical workers, people with disabilities or life-threatening or chronic diseases, and the indigenous populations.

“The devastating effect of sanctions imposed is multiplied by extra-territoriality and over-compliance adversely affecting public and private sectors, Venezuela citizens, non-governmental organisations, third country nationals and companies, said Douhan, adding that “humanitarian exemptions are lengthy, costly, ineffective and inefficient”.

“Lack of necessary machinery, spare parts, electricity, water, fuel, gas, food and medicine, growing insufficiency of qualified workers many of whom have left the country for better economic opportunities, in particular medical personnel, engineers, teachers, professors, judges and policemen, has enormous impact over all categories of human rights, including the rights to life, to food, to health and to development.

Sanctions were first imposed against Venezuela in 2005 and have been severely strengthened since 2015, with the most severe ones being imposed by the United States.

Douhan stressed that unilateral measures are only legal if they are authorised by the UN Security Council, or used as countermeasures, or do not breach any obligation of States, and do not violate fundamental human rights. 

She called on the countries to observe principles and norms of international law and reminded them that humanitarian concerns should always be taken into account with due respect to mutual respect, solidarity, cooperation and multilateralism. She plans to issue a full report on her mission in September 2021.

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