Statements on Elimination of Measures as Political and Economic Compulsion

The UN General Assembly on October 26 reiterated its call for the immediate repeal of unilateral extraterritorial laws that impose sanctions on corporations and nationals of other States.

By a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 67 abstentions, the Assembly expressed deep concern at the negative impact of such measures on trade and on financial and economic cooperation; and urged all States not to recognize or apply those measures or legislative enactments unilaterally imposed by any country (see voting annex).

ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said the victor in the so-called cold war had decided to put its political, economic, cultural and social mark on the world -- a world that only had to listen and obey. That victor thought that the international situation had become fully ripe for "him to dictate his conditions and issue orders so that he may reshape the world in a manner that would guarantee his own interests in anticipation of the possibility of the rise of any sort of international balance, and pre-empt the rise of such a balance at all costs". Countries that disobeyed those orders and tried to build their own societies based on their own specifics, intellectual convictions or political and economic options were qualified as "rogue States". Laws were enacted which punished the rest of the countries of the world if they dealt with such States.

Commenting that it was "indeed a new world order", he raised a number of questions. Why was Libya not punished before 1 September 1969, the date of its revolution? Was that due to the fact that before that date, it had accepted the establishment of military bases on its soil and after that date it evacuated those bases, liberating its lands and skies? Was it because, before that date, Libya had signed concessions with American oil companies that focused on their own interests instead of those of the Libyan people? Or was it because Libya, prior to 1 September 1969, had accepted dependence and occupation when the treaty concluded with the United States deprived it of the simplest manifestations of sovereignty over its territory. He also raised questions with regard to similar experiences of Iran, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Sudan and Cuba.

If the right of a certain country to enact and implement extraterritorial laws was accepted, he said it could set a precedent for all other countries, enabling them to enact similar extraterritorial laws. The international community was called upon to eliminate that precedent, with all its possible consequences and repercussions. The draft resolution that was being submitted today did not concern Libya alone. Voting for the subject matter before the Assembly was not for Libya. The subject of the draft related to what was enacted by States and not by the United Nations.

SUTJIPTOHARDJO DONOKUSUMO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that in the era of globalization, the practice of imposing coercive measures had increased implications and devastating results for affected countries. The imposition of such measures by one country on another ran contrary to the spirit of friendship, which prevailed in the international arena and violated the respect of sovereignty. Such actions prevented countries from pursuing development and expanding their trade programmes.

Also, as the Secretary-General had stated, it constituted a violation of human rights, he said. The international community had to work together to ensure that countries refrained from such measures. The world trading system had to be free from political influences. The international community had to promote the right to development of all countries, in conformity with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

JACOB BOTWE WILMOT (Ghana) said that legislative measures, such as the Helms-Burton Act passed by the United States Congress, were taken without any regard whatsoever for the Charter principle requiring all Member States to settle disputes among themselves by peaceful means such as negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement. He expressed concern at the recent attempt to introduce new concepts at internationalizing such extraterritorial laws through multilateral agreements. His country rejected outright all such attempts, along with the present trend to strengthen and expand those measures through the Bretton Woods institutions.

He then noted various organizations, in addition to the General Assembly, that had called for an immediate end to unilateral coercive measures as a means of political and economic compulsion, including the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the European Union. Indonesia urged States which applied unilateral coercive measures to put an immediate end to such practices and further called on all States not to recognize any legislative enactments which backed such measures.

He concluded by reiterating that it was the inalienable right of every State, however small, weak or poor, to choose the political, economic and social system that it deemed appropriate for the well-being of its people, in accordance with its own national plans, policies and priorities. No other State had the prerogative to interfere in the exercise of such choice.

MARIA DE LOS ANGELES FLOREZ PRIDA (Cuba) said her country's position was very well known. Cuba had consistently voted in favour of the Assembly resolutions which called for the immediate repeal of unilateral extraterritorial laws that imposed sanctions on companies and nationals of third States. The United States was once again seeking, by means of domestic law, known at the D'Amato-Kennedy Act, to extend its domestic legislation to third States by applying sanctions to companies that traded with Libyan or Iranian oil sectors. It was trying unilaterally to impose domestic legislation in a universal way on other countries including its own allies. The application of such measures was a blatant violation of international law and the principles of sovereign equality of States and non-intervention and non-interference in the internal and external affairs of States as articulated in the United Nations Charter.

She said extraterritorial measures also violated the human rights of the populations of targeted countries and affected the most vulnerable sections of those States. Cuba demanded an end to the use of such practices. Accepting them implied favouring the international hegemonization of those measures. She trusted that the Organization would play its rightful role in ensuring that the will of the international community would be upheld. Cuba would vote in favour of the draft.

KHALED S. H. AL-HITTI (Iraq) said that the international community had been overwhelmingly preoccupied with the use of coercive measures, which were imposed both unilaterally and collectively. The latter represented abuse of authority by some powerful States in the Security Council. Coercive measures negatively affected all aspects of life in targeted countries, and their negative effect would continue for many generations to come, even after the sanctions were lifted. Third countries were also affected.

The United Nations Charter had made very clear the cases when the international community could resort to economic sanctions, he said. Those cases included the threat to international peace and security, provided all other means had been exhausted. However, many influential States had overridden those standards. Experience showed that those States cared for nothing else but their own narrow aims. It was abnormal for some States to adopt policies running counter to international law in order to bring other countries to follow their policies. His delegation called on all Member States to oppose the policies of imposing economic and other coercive measures. The right to independent political decisions was ensured by international law.

LAYLA OMER BASHIR (Sudan) said the Assembly provided an important rostrum for weak States to be heard, particularly those targeted by stronger, major powers who wanted to put economic and political pressure on them. The Assembly, during its previous session, had expressed deep concern that the unilateral use of such measures had negative effects on the economies and development efforts of developing countries, and on worldwide efforts to establish an open, multilateral, and indiscriminate trading system. Also, such actions ran counter to the United Nations Charter. Last year's debate showed that the use of such measures were an illegal means of projecting power. The Sudan believed such measures threatened the norms of trust and rule of law, which formed the basis of international relations.

The United States had ignored a number of Assembly resolutions and expanded its use of coercive economic measures, she said. There were now more than 70 States against which the United States had issued presidential decrees. The political reasons behind those coercive American actions had sent a wrong message to the rebel movements in the Sudan, which had in turn hampered the peace talks being held in Nairobi. Aggression against the Sudan escalated with the United States missile attack on one of its pharmaceutical plants. That ugly crime was rationalized by empty and baseless arguments. The United States continued to reject Sudan's call to send a fact-finding mission to the region. Such coercive measures violated the principle of non-intervention. Sudan would vote in favour of the draft resolution.

SEYED MOHAMMAD HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said the twin processes of globalization and liberalization had deepened the mutual interdependence of societies and strengthened the potential for international interaction and cooperation. Recourse to unilateral and extraterritorial measures was therefore a serious threat to the basic principles and fundamentals of the international economic, trade and financial system. The adoption of such measures only fell within the mandate of the United Nations, in particular situations where there was a threat to or breach of the peace. Moreover, several principles set forth in the Charter provided a solid basis for the United Nations to offset the exercise of unilateral sanctions by individual States. Such unilateral measures violated the principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the external and internal affairs of other States, as well as in the exercise of their sovereign rights.

The various General Assembly resolutions adopted since its forty-fourth session were prominent examples of a series of responses by the Organization to such unlawful actions, he continued. The imposition of coercive economic measures also contradicted internal trade laws, including those under the World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations. Various forms of economic coercive measures and actions had been imposed against 79 countries between 1979 and 1992. From 1993 to 1996, unilateral sanctions had been imposed no fewer than 61 times against 35 countries. Those statistics indicated that recourse to such measures and actions had been on the rise in terms of number, and had intensified in severity in recent years.

He said the legislation known as "ILSA", was a domestic instrument without any foundation in international law which had targeted the economic, commercial, and financial relations of Iran with other countries. Moreover the said legislation, whose promulgation was a product of known domestic politicking, contradicted the provisions of international law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among States. Iran called upon all Member States to refrain from recourse to such measures, and to nullify them if they were already in place. The draft before the Assembly was an appropriate response to such unlawful and illegal measures.

MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) said that today's discussion once again raised the issue of sanctions. Formerly, sanctions had tended to be an exception, and were intended to be used with great caution and discretion after all peaceful means had been exhausted. The United Nations Charter dictated that all countries settle their disputes by peaceful means.

Sanctions inflicted devastating damage on the target countries, and the efforts to punish a State resulted in the suffering of its people, he said. For example, attempts to rectify an injustice of the tragedy of Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, brought about another injustice. The people of Libya was paying a heavy price as a result of sanctions, which only extended the list of suffering. On the basis of humanitarian ideas, the heads of African States had decided to suppress unjust and unilateral economic measures against Libya, for they had negative effect on the whole region. During the recent Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, leaders had also drawn attention to the unjust character of economic sanctions. For those reasons, there was a need to support today's draft.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), as Chairman of the Islamic Group, said that the elimination of coercive measures as a means of political and economic compulsion had become an urgent need in order to stop their negative effects on the economic development of developing countries. Such practices were products of cold war confrontational thinking and ran counter to international principles on friendly relations among States. They also ran counter to the Charter, which stated that "no State or group of States had the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State".

In expressing grave concern over the recent enactment of coercive extraterritorial economic measures, he said, they were in contravention of the norms of international law, the aims and purposes of the United Nations and the relevant provisions of the WTO. The Islamic Group believed that the international community should promptly take steps to put an end to the use of unilateral measures against developing countries. He recalled that participants at the eighth Islamic Summit Conference, held in Teheran in December, had called on States to consider the so-called d'Amato-Kennedy Act, which was in contravention to international law and norms, as null and void. Further, the final communiqué of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Qatar in March, had reaffirmed the group's solidarity with Iran and Libya for their positions concerning the d'Amato Act, and rejected any arbitrary or unilateral measure, whether political or legal, by one country against another one.

LI HYONG CHOL (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that elimination of unilateral coercive economic measures constituted a fundamental condition for the establishment of democratic and equitable international economic relations. The use of forcible means in pursuit of political aims was a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, principles of international laws, resolutions of the General Assembly, and declarations and programmes of action of major international conferences. However, in disregard of the requirements of the current era, certain countries still continued to resort to frequent imposition of economic sanctions upon developing countries as means of coercive political and economic pressure.

The most prolonged and severe coercive economic measures during this century had been unilateral sanctions and a blockade imposed upon his country by the United States, he continued. Those sanctions had been in force for almost half a century. Even though four years had elapsed since the conclusion of the Agreed Framework between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States, the United States failing to fulfil its commitment had not taken measures to lift the sanctions. It continued to pursue a hostile policy towards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. If anachronistic pressure and blackmail continued unchecked, they would present a dangerous element that could bring about another type of cold war by inciting confrontation and hostility among countries.

In conclusion, he reiterated his delegation's position that Member States of the United Nations should pay due attention to an early implementation of resolutions concerning the elimination of sanctions as means of political and economic pressure, including unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries. His delegation was also strongly opposed to any attempt to initiate and indefinitely maintain sanctions as forcible means to change legitimate political and economic systems of individual countries.

PIETER ANDRIES VERMEULEN (South Africa) said that his country was committed to the principle of the sovereign equality of States and the freedom of international trade. The heads of State and government of the Non-Aligned Movement had addressed the issue of consideration of the elimination of coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion at the Summit in Durban, in September. Participants had condemned the unilateral application of such measures, including the enactment of extraterritorial laws aimed at preventing developing countries from exercising their right to freely decide their own political, economic and social systems.

South Africa reiterated and endorsed the call of the Non-Aligned Movement on all countries not to recognize the unilateral or extraterritorial imposition of sanctions against other States, foreign companies or individuals and to refrain from adopting such coercive measures, he said. The leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement had also noted that those measures violated international law and the United Nations Charter, and they had called on the international community to take effective action to arrest that trend -- including attempts to introduce or internationalize such extraterritorial measures through multilateral institutions or agreements. They specifically rejected the trend geared at strengthening coercive unilateral measures through the Bretton Woods institutions.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said this was the second year the Assembly had taken action on the elimination of coercive economic measures. It was regrettable that, since the adoption of the relevant text last session, the Member State concerned continued to apply extraterritorial coercive measures in defiance of demands by the international community. Despite the end of the cold war, external interventions with dubious means still persisted. Those interventions were being felt in most of the developing countries, such as Libya and Cuba, to mention just a few. The spirit and letter of those dubious laws contravened the resolutions of the General Assembly, in particular 2131 (XX) of 21 December 1965 on the inadmissibility of intervention in the domestic affairs of States and on the protection of their independence and sovereignty.

He said those extraterritorial laws also contravened Assembly resolution 3281 (XXIX) of 12 December 1974 which prevented the use of economic, political or any other means to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights. In that regard, his delegation once again called upon the United States to refrain from adopting or implementing extraterritorial measures which were coercive in nature and which constituted a blatant violation of the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter. Namibia fully supported the draft before the Assembly and would vote in favour of it.

IBRAHIM A. GAMBARI (Nigeria), on behalf of the Group of African States, said that the OAU, at its Summit in June, had addressed the necessity for elimination of unjust economic measures as an instrument of economic and political coercion. The Summit recommended that any extraterritorial measures used as a means of political and economic coercion be reviewed to alleviate the negative impact on the lives of innocent citizens, both in the target State and in neighbouring countries. The implementation of humanitarian provisions related to international sanctions were often cumbersome, leading to delays in the procurement, delivery and distribution of essential commodities, such as food and medicine. As a result, women and children were often the hardest hit by sanctions.

Several questions were relevant to today's discussion, issues which had been raised during the Security Council debate on the supplement to An Agenda for Peace -- a position paper by former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on the occasion of the United Nations fiftieth Anniversary, he said. First, the issue had been raised about how the United Nations could ensure that sanctions were properly targeted at the decision makers, rather than at the general population of the country concerned. Secondly, it was raised how adequate provisions could be made to protect innocent civilians who invariably suffer disproportionately from the effect of sanctions. Thirdly, how neighbouring States, who often bore the brunt of enforcement of sanctions at an expense to their own economies and domestic peace and stability, could be compensated. Also, the unilateral imposition of measures by some countries to influence the domestic politics of the targeted country gave sanctions a very negative connotation and could undermine their moral force.

The African Group believed that the relationship between Member States and the international community should become more cooperative than confrontational, he said. In that regard, extraterritorial coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion would be eradicated. The African Group supported the draft resolution, which it hoped would give relief both in economic and social terms, to ordinary citizens of affected countries. He noted that while it was the primary responsibility of the Security Council to maintain international peace and security, that mandate had to be exercised without jeopardizing the well-being of innocent citizens of any nation. The Assembly had the responsibility to bring that fact to the attention of the Council and the international community, and to adopt appropriate resolutions to correct injustices resulting from extraterritorial economic measures.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that there was considerable concern within the international community over the use of coercive economic measures as a means of political and economic compulsion. Those measures violated the established norms of relations among nations and the universal principles of equal sovereignty of States and non-intervention in their internal affairs. They also violated the letter and spirit of the agreement establishing the WTO. Unilateral measures were discriminatory in nature and were intended to serve specific political agendas against the target countries. They also had an extraterritorial dimension, as they extended the application of domestic laws to other countries.

Like many other delegations, Malaysia opposed application of such coercive measures in inter-state relations and fully subscribed to the final document of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Durban last September, which called on all States to refrain from adopting or implementing extraterritorial or unilateral measures of coercion as a means of exerting pressures on Non- Aligned and other developing countries. Those measures were out of step with the current trend towards increasing interdependence and interaction among States. Malaysia supported the draft under discussion and joined the call for the immediate repeal of such unilateral extraterritorial laws as the D'Amato-Kennedy Act and the Helms-Burton Act. Malaysia also urged an earnest effort on the part of the international community to forge a new dynamic in relations among States. In that respect, the United Nations had a unique role to play.


Vote on Eliminating Coercive Measures as Political and Economic Compulsion


In favour: Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Salam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Antigua-Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Comoros, Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Lesotho, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia.