UN independent expert urges lifting of unilateral coercive measures to face COVID-19

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, independent expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, urged Wednesday, April 15, to urgently envisage a temporary lift of unilateral coercive actions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Economic and financial sanctions should not come in the way of States obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and global efforts to fight the pandemic,” he states on his report titled “COVID-19: Urgent appeal for a human rights response to the economic recession.”

The lifting of unilateral coercive measures, explained the expert, would be a way to ensure humanitarian relief and prevent further spread of as well as fight against the pandemic.

“This should be accomplished by allowing healthcare systems to survive and essential supplies to reach populations be it medical or food,” he added.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet have also called for the lifting and reevaluation of the so-called sanctions.


The UN independent expert recalled his concerns by the IMF’s recent negative response to Venezuela’s request for financial support to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

In this regard, Bohoslavsky said that the IMF’s argument “cannot be the basis for a decision that gravely endangers the whole of the Venezuelan population, and by extent the whole world.”

“Such decisions may amount to gross violation of human rights and would require accountability from the institution and its deciders”, he explained.

Venezuela requested in mid-March $5 billion in financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the premise of strengthening the response capacity of the Venezuelan health system to contain COVID-19.


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