In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr Issa Kouhestani noted that some countries have acknowledged that sanctions have prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Iran. “Unfortunately, the United States has imposed brutal unilateral sanctions against many countries, including Iran. This makes the responsibility of the United Nations and the Secretary-General more important and heavier.

He added that the UN Secretary-General had recently sent a letter to Iran, Russia, China, Iraq, Nicaragua, Cuba and North Korea urging them to recognize the effects of unilateral sanctions on their capability to fight the Coronavirus and to provide accurate citations: Whether or not these unilateral sanctions and coercive measures will prevent these countries from succeeding in the fight against Corona. They also called on other countries around the world to work with these countries to prevent the spread of this devastating disease.

Sanctions Lifting; Priority of All Humanitarian Efforts

Emphasizing that the UN Secretary-General’s duties towards countries subject to US sanctions are far greater than issuing a statement or a simple request, Kouhestani said: “Given the difficult conditions of countries under sanctions, the priority of all humanitarian actions should be to lift the sanctions. The United Nations should play a more active role in this regard, and should simply refrain from issuing resolutions, statements and requests by the UN agencies, and instead take effective humanitarian action.

He added: “Such actions, given the pandemic situation of this deadly virus and its widespread and devastating effects in countries under the brutal pressure of sanctions, are by no means sufficient and appropriate and require the abandonment of political considerations to serve the interests of arrogant countries by the Secretary-General and other UN agencies.”

Under the circumstances, these countries must, on the one hand, fight the weaknesses of inhumane and brutal sanctions and, on the other hand, fight this deadly virus. Therefore, in these circumstances, the sanctions related to the health system, medical and pharmaceutical equipment should be lifted as soon as possible, and the United Nations and the Secretary-General should play an active role in this regard.

Immediate Lifting of Sanctions on Health System, Medical, Pharmaceutical Equipment

Recalling the high number of human losses as a result of the Corona pandemic in countries claiming to have advanced and modern health systems, he pointed to the damage done to health and medical systems in the sanctioned countries, adding: Therefore, in these circumstances, sanctions related to the health system, medical and pharmaceutical equipment should be lifted as soon as possible, and the United Nations and the Secretary-General should play an active role in this regard.

The international law analyst referred to a letter sent by UN Chief Mr Gutteres to the G20 leaders and called for the lifting of sanctions against countries to ensure that citizens have access to food and health services, as well as financial assistance to fight the Corona disease in some vulnerable countries. Certainly, these measures are not enough due to the deadly effect and consequences of this virus in the world, said Kouhestani.

UN Should Not Let Political Considerations Block Saving Lives

Kouhestani called the protection of endangered countries tantamount to the protection of and support for the whole international community and said: “Preventing medical efforts in one country will increase the risk for all countries.” Since these sanctions have a direct negative impact on the human rights to life, health and well-being of the people exposed to danger, the United Nations should not allow political calculations stand in the way of saving lives.

Stressing that US primary and secondary sanctions against Iran are a clear violation of international law, the expert added: “Sanctions on medicine and medical treatment are the culmination of the inhumane treatment of this criminal action against independent nations, especially the Iranian people.” Through this policy, the United States is trying to increase its failed and shameful policy of maximum pressure by intimidating other countries against doing legal trade with Iran, which is a legitimate action under UN Security Council Resolution 2231. This action is not only inconsistent with the UN resolution, but also a violation of the general humanitarian laws and crime against humanity.

He described the US sanctions under conditions that the virus has claimed the lives of many people in Iran and other countries, action against global security and crime against humanity and added: Paragraph 1 of Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.

Also, he noted, Article 55 of the UN Charter also emphasizes: With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems. The preamble to the World Health Organization (WHO) Statute also emphasizes the right to enjoy the highest standards of health.

Kouhestani continued: “Sanctions imposed by the US terrorist administration violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations and other credible and international instruments such as the Statute of the World Health Organization and even the second paragraph of Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which considers the creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.

Need for Decisive Action by UN Chief in the Face of Sanctions

He stressed that the UN Secretary-General and all the agencies of this international body should, within the framework of their missions, take decisive action against the continuation of these heinous and criminal policies against the right to life of all peoples, including the right to life and progress of the Iranian people. The United Nations Security Council is committed to fulfilling its inherent and humane duty to prevent US state terrorism from further mocking humanity, human rights and humanitarian aid.

“Following this path, the complete and unconditional repeal of all US sanctions against the Iranian people and respect for fundamental human rights laws through the issuance of necessary guarantees is the main organizational and human mission and the most central historical responsibility of the UN Secretary-General,” he said. Silence in the face of these crimes actually contributes to the institutionalization of international anarchism, which merely serves the interests of the lobby of power and wealth in the world.

He also noted the UN’s commitment to other countries exposed to war, including in the fight against Corona. “The outbreak of this deadly disease will have devastating effects in the absence of immediate precautionary measures, so it is very important to avoid an ongoing catastrophe,” he said. It is imperative that the United Nations take more active steps to persuade the parties involved to adopt a comprehensive ceasefire to focus on the necessary measures to counter the Coronavirus. Otherwise, a large number of civilians will lose their lives, which can be prevented today.

Kouhestani said that armed conflicts in recent years have destroyed the health system in the war-torn countries. In this context, the role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UN agencies is very important and heavy, and given the tasks, it is responsible for, more practical and more urgent measures must be taken before the international community sees a humanitarian catastrophe in these areas.