Date: Tue, 14 Apr 98 21:58:56 CDT
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: HUMAN RIGHTS: UN Condemns Unilateral Economic Sanctions
Article: 32318
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** ips.english: 511.0 **/
** Topic: HUMAN RIGHTS: UN Condemns Unilateral Economic Sanctions **
** Written 4:17 PM Apr 12, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

UN Condemns Unilateral Economic Sanctions

By Gustavo Capdevila, InterPress Service, 9 April 1998

GENEVA, Apr 9 (IPS)—The UN Human Rights Commission voted Thursday against unilateral coercive measures imposed on other countries, like the U.S. economic embargos against Cuba, Libya and Iran.

The Commission also expressed its concern over the effects of structural adjustment programmes on human rights.g

The Non-Aligned Movement sponsored the resolution on human rights and unilateral coercive measures that was approved by the 53-member Commission.

The resolution is mainly linked to two U.S. laws: the Helms- Burton act which stiffened the blockade of Cuba, and the D'Amato law which blocks trade with Libya and Iran.

The text, approved by 37 votes in favour, seven against and eight abstentions, urges states not to adopt unilateral measures that run counter to international law or the UN charter.

The resolution especially alludes to coercive measures with extraterritorial effects, like the Helms-Burton law, which provides for legal proceedings against citizens from third party nations who do business with Cuba.

The Commission rejected the employment of such measures as instruments of political or economic pressure against any nation, especially developing countries, due to their negative effects on broad sectors of the population.

Colombian ambassador Gustavo Castro, speaking in the name of the Non-Aligned Movement plus China, pointed out that “moral authorities” like Pope John Paul II “reprove that practice due to the suffering it causes the civilian population.”

No country can argue “supposed national interests as a pretext for violating the sovereignty of other states,” he maintained, in an allusion to U.S. attempts to justify its unilateral economic sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Libya.

U.S. ambassador Nancy Rubin replied that nations had the right to decide with which countries, and under what conditions, they would do business.

Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Luxembourg, South Korea and the United States voted against the resolution, while Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Poland and the Ukraine abstained.

Cuban diplomat Aymee Hernandez Quesada said the vote was another sign of the deaf ear that the United States turned to the Commission's requests, as well as a demonstration of developing countries' support for the resolution.

The second resolution, on the consequences of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) on human rights, was presented by the Philippines, which holds the chair of the working group studying the question.

The Human Rights Commission extended the working group's deadline, allowing it to present its conclusions at the Commission's next period of sessions, in 1999.

The representative of the Philippines, Denis Lepatan, said the economic and financial crisis sweeping east Asia heightened the profile of SAPs. Measures to liberalise the economy and reduce state intervention and social policies, which characterise SAPs, are currently being applied in that Asian country, he pointed out, in the belief that they would boost economic stability, growth and development.

But, he added, the experience of the Philippines showed that SAPs had negative consequences on the lives of ordinary people, especially those in the lowest-income brackets.

Analysing the effects of SAPs on human rights would help bring economic measures into line with the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights, Lepatan maintained.

The resolution on SAPs and human rights was approved by the votes of developing countries, over the opposition of industrialised countries and economies in transition.

Japan termed the resolution “insufficient and mistaken,” saying the designation of a working group was no solution to the repercussions of SAPs.

Japanese diplomat Shigeki Sumi lamented that the Philippines had sponsored such a resolution just when east Asia was in the grips of a major financial crisis, arguing that under the circumstances, the resolution could “send the wrong message” to Asians.