U.N. Rights Expert Calls US Sanctions on Iran ‘Unjust and Harmful,’ Praises EU Efforts to Counter Them

By Patrick Goodenough | August 22, 2018 | 7:56pm EDT
Algerian national Idriss Jazairy is the U.N.’s ‘special rapportueur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.’ (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

(CNSNews.com) – A U.N. human rights “special rapporteur” whose appointment stoked controversy has come out against the Trump administration’s reimposition of sanctions against Iran, calling the move “unjust and harmful” and praising the European Union for opposing it.

Idriss Jazairy noted that the U.S. itself – during the Obama administration – had supported the U.N. Security Council resolution which unanimously endorsed the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

That underscored the illegitimacy of President Trump’s restoration of sanctions following his decision this year to exit the JCPOA, he said.

Jazairy pointed out that the other permanent members of the Security Council – as well as “all international partners” – were opposed to the U.S. move.

“International sanctions must have a lawful purpose, must be proportional, and must not harm the human rights of ordinary citizens, and none of these criteria is met in this case.”

Jazairy, a retired Algerian diplomat, holds one of several dozen U.N. human rights “thematic” mandates, in his case focused on “the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.”

“Unilateral coercive measures” (UCMs) is U.N. jargon for sanctions imposed by one country against another designed to compel a change of behavior, but without Security Council authorization.

The mandate was created by a polarizing resolution passed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2014, backed by repressive regimes but opposed by the U.S. and other mostly Western democracies which had consistently opposed similar UCM resolutions in past years too.

Countries supporting the measure included those inside and outside the HRC who have been targeted by Western sanctions for various reasons, including Cuba, Iran, China and Russia, backed by likeminded countries including members of the OIC Islamic bloc which at the time controlled almost one third of the HRC’s 47 seats. The resolution passed by 31-14.

Earlier this month the Trump administration restored sanctions that had been lifted under the JCPOA, targeting trade in gold and other precious metals and the automotive sector.

Even more significant sanctions, directed at the energy and banking sectors, are scheduled to be reimposed in November. The administration, which wants to reduce to zero exports of Iranian oil, says the measures aim to compel the regime to end its “malign behavior” in the region.

In his statement, a copy of which was provided by his office Wednesday, Jazairy said U.S. sanctions were “destroying the economy and currency of Iran, driving millions of people into poverty and making imported goods unaffordable.”

The statement said he praised efforts by others to reject “economic bullying” by the U.S.

“I am grateful for the efforts of the European Union in tackling this injustice, both through diplomatic efforts and through legislation to protect European companies from American sanctions,” Jazairy said.

“I sincerely hope that the international community can come together to see that the world does not become a battleground for generalized economic war.”

U.S. sanctions against Iran do not generally affect the export of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices, unless the transactions involve specific designated entities like the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

But Jazairy argued that “doubt and ambiguity” created by the sanctions system make it “all but impossible for Iran to import these urgently needed humanitarian goods.”

He urged the U.S. to take steps to assure banks, financial institutions and companies that relevant transactions are allowed.

Jazairy’s ‘special rapporteur’ mandate was a creation of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. (UN Photo, File)

‘Financial compensation’ for sanctions

Jazairy’s appointment as “special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” was controversial not just because of the mandate itself, but because of his own record.

Until 2012 he had served as Algeria’s ambassador to the HRC, representing a government that is designated “not free” by the democracy watchdog, Freedom House.

In that capacity, he led African opposition a decade ago to taking a tough stance towards Sudan’s Islamist regime over the deadly humanitarian crisis in Darfur. (Wearing his later special rapporteur hat, Jazairy blamed the suffering of Sudanese people on U.S. sanctions, rather than on the regime, whose leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.)

Jazairy has accused Israel of international piracy (after the 2010 Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza) and praised Libya’s Gaddafi regime in 2010 for its efforts “to promote human rights.”

In 2011, he called on the United States start to include its own record in the State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world.

In the course of his “special rapporteur” duties, Jazairy has argued that extraterritorial sanctions are unlawful and that those affected by them should be eligible for “financial compensation.”

“The special rapporteur strongly suggests that the time has come for the international community to reaffirm some of the basic values of the rule of law, one of which is that all persons whose enjoyment of human rights has been affected by unilateral coercive measures are entitled to an effective remedy, including appropriate and effective financial compensation,” he says in a new report which the HRC will consider at its next session, next month.


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