China, Russia, and 24 other countries called for an end to unilateral sanctions by the US and other Western countries on Monday. Chinese envoy Zhang Jun read a statement at the UN that said the sanctions have made it harder for governments to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The response to and recovery from Covid-19 requires global solidarity and international cooperation,” the countries said in a statement. “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.”
“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.”
The statement was signed by North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela, three countries under heavy US sanctions. When the coronavirus pandemic first broke out, there was an international call for the US to lift sanctions. But instead, the US maintained sanctions and even increased them. In March, when Iran struggled to contain the virus, the US slapped new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
History shows, economic sanctions have a devastating impact on the civilian population of the target country. For example, in April 2019, the Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report that found US sanctions played a role in the death of 40,000 Venezuelans from 2017 to 2018. The report details how US measures impact Venezuela’s healthcare infrastructure.