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China Criticizes the United States and Western Countries for Violating Human Rights at the General Assembly on behalf of 26 Countries

2020/10/05

On October 5, Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, made a joint statement at General Debate of Third Committee of the General Assembly, on behalf of 26 countries including Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Laos, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Palestine, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Ambassador Zhang criticized the United States and western countries for violating human rights, called for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures and expressed grave concerns on systematic racial discrimination. The full text of the joint statement is as follows:

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to severely affect all nations, in particular developing countries. The response to and recovery from COVID-19 requires global solidarity and international cooperation.

However, we continue to witness the application of unilateral coercive measures, which are contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and International Law, multilateralism and the basic norms of international relations. Unilateral coercive measures have an undeniable impact on human rights, as they impede the full realization of social and economic development and hinder the well-being of the population in the affected countries, in particular women, children, including adolescents, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Unilateral coercive measures undermine the right to health, as they incumber access to medicines and medical technologies, equipment, and supplies. This is particularly relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. UN senior officials and the international community have recognized the heavy, negative impact of these measures.

In that regard, we welcome the Secretary-General's appeal of 26 March 2020 on the waiving of sanctions that undermine countries' capacity to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as the statement made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 23 March on the need to ease or suspend sectoral sanctions in light of their debilitating impact on the health sector and human rights. We also reaffirm the Group of 77 and China's statement calling to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement's declaration on condemning unilateral coercive measures and urging their elimination to ensure the effectiveness of national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also welcome the recently adopted General Assembly resolution entitled "Comprehensive and coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic", which strongly urges States to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

We take note of the work on this issue of the Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights, other special procedures of the Human Rights Council and relevant human rights treaty bodies. We look forward for their further elaboration of this subject.

We seize this opportunity to call for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures, in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to COVID-19.

Global solidarity and international cooperation are the most powerful weapons in fighting and overcoming COVID-19.

Almost twenty years after the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, instances like the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake continue to take place and vulnerable people continue to suffer or lose their lives to racism and police brutality. Such instances are a reminder that chronic and deep-rooted racial discrimination, police brutality and social inequality still exist. The COVID-19 mortality rate of minorities, in particular people of African descent, is disproportionately high in some countries.

We also express our deep concern over the health situation of migrants at immigration detention centers in certain countries that reflects a contemporary form of racial discrimination.

We welcome the adoption of the Human Rights Council resolution "The promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers", and called for its full implementation.

 

The term "unilateral coercive measures" usually refers to economic measures taken by one State to compel a change in the policy of another State. Examples of such measures include trade sanctions in the form of embargoes and the interruption of financial and investment flows between sender and target countries. Unilateral coercive measures are contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and International Law, and severely hamper the economic development and health capacity of affected countries. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, its negative influences have drawn the attention of a large number of Member States. Both the UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the waiving of sanctions that undermine countries' capacity to respond to COVID-19 pandemic. At the general debate of the 75th UN General Assembly, many leaders called for the lifting of unilateral coercive measures.

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