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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Arria-Formula Meeting on "End Unilateral Coercive Measures Now"

2020/11/25

This virtual Arria meeting on "End Unilateral Coercive Measures Now" is co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of the Republic of the Niger, the Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, and my own country China. This meeting is also the first Arria meeting on UCMs of the Security Council members. I welcome you to this meeting.

Unilateral Coercive Measures have attracted attention and concerns from the international community for years. Since 1989, the General Assembly has adopted biannual resolutions on "Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries". Since 1992, the UNGA has adopted resolutions every year calling for ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the US against Cuba. There has also been an annual UNGA resolution since 1997, focusing on human rights and UCMs.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, UCMs' negative impact became more evident, complicated the settlement of hotspot issues on the Security Council's agenda, and drawn more concerns from the Member States ever. Both the UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for waiving sanctions that undermine countries' capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the general debate of the 75th UN General Assembly, many leaders called for the lifting of UCMs.

It is against this backdrop that the co-hosts hold this Arria meeting to allow member states to deepen the understanding of the negative impact of UCMs, and to explore possible ways to end UCMs and cope with its negative impact.

Thank you all for participating in this meeting and getting actively involved in the discussions. Today we are pleased to have Ms. Alena Douhan, UN Special Rapporteur, to brief us with her observation regarding the negative impact of the UCMs on the enjoyment of human rights. To allow hearing from first-hand information about the suffering of the peoples and societies caused by UCMs, we have another three briefers joining the meeting. They are Mr. Fermín Quiñones, President of the United Nations Cuban Association, Mr. Khaled Erksoussi, Secretary-General of the Syrian Red Crescent, and Dr. Nhamo Mhiripiri, Associate Professor of Midlands State University in Zimbabwe. I give sincere thanks to the briefers, who shared their valuable insights with us today.

In my national capacity, I would like to share the following points:

First, the application of UCMs contradicts the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and International Law. The United States and some other countries impose UCMs to suppress legitimate sovereign governments or even attempt for regime change. Such practices go against the basic norms of international relations and are extremely harmful to multilateralism.

Second, UCMs inflict heavy blows to social and economic development and hinder the well-being of the population in the affected countries. Trade sanctions, including embargoes and the interruption of financial and investment flows, interfere in market operations, damage fair competition and destroy people's livelihoods. Among others, vulnerable groups including women and children bear the brunt.

Third, UCMs impede humanitarian operations in vulnerable countries.Transfers of funds, imports of fuel, access to medicines, etc. are essential to humanitarian efforts, but have become so difficult because of UCMs. As for the so-called humanitarian exemptions, humanitarians workers have experienced repetitive rejections and long delays. In one word, it is not working, especially in cases of humanitarian emergency.

Fourth, UCMs undermine the affected countries' health capacity and their ability to mobilize resources to fight against COVID-19 pandemic. UCMs limit and block the access to medical technologies and supplies, jeopardize global solidarity and international cooperation, and must be lifted to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all member states to COVID-19.

As the illegal nature and negative impacts of UCMs are very explicit, the international community must act, and act quick:The UN Resident Coordinators should do research in each affected country and report back in due course. OCHA should study and record the humanitarian impacts of UCMs and submit focused report to the Security Council. The Security Council should pay close attention to the negative impacts of UCMs on relevant countries and their people. The General Assembly should follow up its resolutions on UCMs and see to their implementation. Member States must heed the appeals of the Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights with concrete actions. NGOs, civil societies, humanitarian workers and the media are encouraged to collect information on the challenges brought by UCMs and make it known to the world, in a joint effort to bring down the unfair practices.

Let me join so many speakers today in saying "End UCMs Now".

As the meeting draws to its end, I would like to express gratitude to other co-hosts and briefers for their support and input, and also sincere thanks to all who participated. It shows that a wide range of countries and people attach great importance to this issue. Through your participation and interaction, this meeting deepens our understanding of the negative impacts of UCMs. Some countries have expressed different views on UCMs and humanitarian exemptions. Difference of opinions is quite expectable. We hope this meeting could facilitate communication and mutual understanding, and we encourage continued exchange of views in various formats. What matters most is to keep the issue in sight and adopt an open, inclusive and responsible approach towards this issue.

Regretfully, we just heard baseless blames from the United States and some other countries. As representative of China, I totally reject these blames. It's without doubt that their accusations are based on misconceptions and misinterpretation of UN Charter and international law. They are not convincing at all. According to the briefers and many countries, the sufferings are there, the concern are there, the calls are there. Any responsible countries should not turn a blind eye and show indifference to these facts. Convening the meeting is only appropriate in the context of Security Council, as many countries on the Security Council agenda are faced with the difficulty and hardships caused by UCMs.

It is our sincere hope that all countries would take a rational and responsible attitude towards the reasonable concerns of affected countries and engage in discussions constructively, so as to give hope to innocent civilians who are suffering from UCMs, give strength to global solidarity, and give new momentum to international cooperation.

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