UN expert calls US sanctions on Iran “disastrous”
The complex set of unilateral sanctions against Iran, coupled with secondary sanctions against third-parties, overcompliance and zero-risking policies by businesses and financial institutions, exacerbate existing humanitarian and economic challenges and negatively affect the lives of the people, in particular the most vulnerable, a UN human rights expert said.
At the end of a 12-day visit to Iran, Alena Douhan, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) on the enjoyment of human rights, said that she had heard disturbing accounts from patients suffering from rare diseases and people with disabilities on the challenges they faced in accessing medicines and assistive equipment.
“I am gravely concerned about the life-threating consequences of the high costs and in certain cases complete absence of specialised medicines and medical equipment due to sanctions-induced trade and financial restrictions, as well as due to reported foreign companies’ reluctance to supply these goods for fear of consequences, including possible criminal prosecution and financial penalties,” she said.
“Sanctions imposed on Iran’s key economic sectors, and designation of its financial institutions, along with numerous national companies has led to severe drop of State revenues, inflation, growing poverty rates, and scarcity of resources to guarantee the basic needs of those most in need,” added Douhan.
In a statement, the Special Rapporteur highlighted several other areas impacted by the combination of unilateral sanctions and overcompliance, including but not limited to the preservation and further development of essential infrastructure; the difficulties to expand social support programmes in the context of rising prices and unemployment rates, including in support of the growing population of Afghan refugees; impediments in the business and industrial development due to absence of raw materials, inability to process international payments, and restrictions in accessing new technologies; deterioration of environmental security; challenges regarding natural disaster prevention, response and recovery, due to the bans of imports of specialised equipment and humanitarian provisions; rising challenges in the operations of international and local non-governmental organisations and humanitarian actors; obstacles to Iran’s engagement in international cooperation, including in the academia, arts and cultural heritage, sports, and its overall engagement with international organisations and associations due to travel bans and the inability to process payments of membership fees.
She singled out those suffering from “severe diseases, disabled people, Afghan refugees, women-led households and children” as being badly affected by the measures.
During her visit, which began on May 7, Duhan met representatives from national and local government institutions, non-governmental organisations, associations, humanitarian actors, businesses, UN entities, academia as well as the diplomatic community. In addition to the capital Tehran, she also visited Karaj and Isfahan. “I am very aware that no country has been visited in 17 years,” Douhan said, adding that she hoped her visit would be followed by more such UN visits to Iran.
The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Iran in September 2022.