Explanation of Vote on a Resolution on Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures

Mordica Simpson
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 17, 2020


Thank you, Chairperson.

This resolution does not advance the promotion and protection of human rights. Simply put, it is not sanctions that are undermining human rights. Sanctions are not punitive; they are a tool to change behavior. U.S. sanctions are designed to promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses, and those who point to sanctions as the problem advance a false narrative like the one in this resolution.

The text of this resolution inappropriately challenges the sovereign right of States to determine their economic relations and protect legitimate national interests, including taking actions in response to national security concerns. Relatedly, we will not allow those who endanger the national security of the United States and the international community to exploit the COVID-19 emergency to achieve sanctions relief. The resolution also attempts to undermine the international community’s ability to respond to acts that are offensive to international norms.

Economic sanctions are a legitimate way to achieve foreign policy, security, and other national and international objectives, and the United States is not alone in that view or in that practice.

Our sanctions programs are focused on constraining the ability of bad actors to take advantage of our financial system or threaten the United States, our allies and partners, or civilians, not on bona fide humanitarian-related trade, assistance, or activity. Rather, we often, and in many circumstances proactively, exclude this type of activity from our sanctions programs. The United States actively seeks to facilitate the provision of legitimate aid to Syria and Venezuela, while Assad and Maduro actively work to restrict it. Indeed, we have provided billions of dollars of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan and Syrian people.

For these reasons, we request a vote and we will vote against this resolution.

Thank you, Chairperson.