“My task is to show facts, which sometimes are horrible,” Alena Douhan says

UN special rapporteur: No good intention justifies illegal sanctions

May 18, 2022 - 21:17

TEHRAN — Speaking in a press briefing on Wednesday, the last day of her mission to Tehran, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCM) spoke about the reality of the sanctions’ impacts on the lives of the Iranian people.

Alena Douhan, who visited Iran on May 7, said that the unilateral sanctions imposed mostly by the United States have reduced the quality of life of the Iranian people, especially the low-income class. 

After 12 days in the country, Douhan presented her assessment of the Unilateral Coercive Measures on human rights in Iran.

The UN special rapporteur began her presser by explaining her observations, and then went on to recommend some points.

She said that everything detailed in her report is preliminary assessment and the final report will be released in September. 

"I met with a number of civil society members, representatives of financial centers, (and) diplomatic community,” she said. 

The Tehran Times has learned that over the course of 12 days, Douhan met with over 30 executive officials, as well as civil society organizations. The total number of her visits exceeded 50.

She then went on to express her gratification to the UN office in Tehran.

“I urge the states that have frozen the assets of Iranian central bank to immediately unfreeze Iran's funds based on international law and humanitarian issues.”

“Iran have been subjected to unilateral sanctions for a long time. The U.S. has imposed economic and trade sanctions on Iran from 1970s. These expanded in 2000s. The U.S. sanctions now consists Iran’s central bank,” she added. 

She then highlighted that despite the conclusion of the JCPOA, which is endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 in 2015, the U.S. still bans trade and investment in Iran and this is illegal.

“Most foreign international companies have left Iran,” Douhan added, noting that based on her observations, Iran's frozen assets are estimated at $120 billion. 

“Canada imposed sanctions on key Iranian individuals and has listed 200 entities on sanctions list. Statistics show that the unilateral sanctions have had drastic impact on the status of Iran,” the UN Special Rapporteur added. 

“I need to mention that the sanctions have affected academic and sports situation, as well as the low-income sector of Iran,” she explained. 

She then told reporters that she will address her concerns about the illegality of sanctions in her final report.

“Applying extraterritorial sanctions on Iranian companies or companies working with Iran or pay Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under international law,” the special rapporteur noted.

According to Douhan, sanctions have affected the whole scope of Iranian people's lives.

She added, “The whole scope of unilateral and secondary sanctions as well as over-compliance has urged Iranian organizations to seek alternative solutions.” 

She then welcomed the efforts of the Iranian government to support the Afghan refugees in Iran, both documented and undocumented.

“I call on the sanctioning states, particularly the U.S., to abandon the illegal unilateral sanctions,” she reiterated. “I also remind the U.S. that no good intention will justify the violation of human rights. I urge the states that have frozen the assets of Iranian central bank to immediately unfreeze Iran's funds based on international law and humanitarian issues.”

Douhan also urged the JCPOA member states and the U.S. to continue their negotiations with Iran. 

“We must note that the actions taken against Iran are a violation of human rights.” 

Elsewhere in the briefing, Douhan recommended the sanctioning states, including the United States, to adhere to international law. 

“The least of my recommendation to the sanctioning states is to observe the human rights situation in Iran, and adhere to international law.”

She also touched on the issue of Iranian diplomats and diplomatic missions having trouble to receive their salaries and annual budgets. 

“I have been reported that Iranian diplomats are having problems receiving their monthly salaries due to the over-compliance of foreign banks (with U.S. sanctions),” she stated. 

She said that the scope of sanctions that were imposed between 2010-2015 differs from 2018 up to now.

“Today, we have no United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran,” she added. 

She said the human rights situation in Iran is severely affected due to unilateral sanctions.

Responding to a question about the impact of sanctions on Iran’s income, Douhan said the shrinking revenue means that the government will have less money for building houses and schools.

“I called on the international community to gather support for Iran. I hope very much that the UN agencies will listen to me,” she added. 

She then said that her purpose was to analyze the situation and present “facts”. 

“I tried to show specific examples in my report,” Douhan stressed. 

Outlining the illegality of extraterritorial behavior towards Iran, Douhan noted that extraterritoriality is one of the complex issues in Iran's sanctions. 

“States should not behave extraterritorially based on international law,” she insisted. 

About external factors that might affect her final assessment, Douhan said external pressure comes from the countries that are committing illegal actions. 

According to the special rapporteur, she is acting on her individual capacities, and is independent of all states, and even the UN. Douhan also said that she insists and promises to behave independently.

Citing examples about external pressure, Douhan said, “Before I started my trip to Iran, there were active social media campaigns, appeals to the UN High Commissioner, etc.

This is natural. My task is to show facts, which sometimes are horrible.”

In response to a question posed by the Tehran Times correspondent about the expected practical actions to end over-compliance with sanctions and due diligence, Douhan said, “I tried to initiate multi-level discussions to end the issues of over-compliance and due diligence.”

She then noted that multi-level discussions are needed to overcome the secondary sanctions issues.

“Unilateral sanctions have become tougher today, and have tightened since the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, as the U.S. has been imposing sanctions that included commodity insurance and banking transactions,” she said.

She then went on to say that she will do her best to address the illegality of sanctions against Iran. 

“We must note that the actions taken against Iran are a violation of human rights. I do not think the sanctions will be lifted so quickly, but I will try to raise the issue,” Douhan reiterated. 

She then called on the U.S. government to release all assets owned by the Central Bank of Iran, adding, “I urge all banks and private companies not to comply with these sanctions for the sake of human rights.”

In this regard, Douhan added, “I call on all sanctioning countries, particularly the United States, to end sanctions against the Iranian people in the fields of food, medicine, water and health. I urge the U.S. government to end imposing sanctions on Iran.”

The special rapporteur went on to say that sanctions have reduced the quality of life in Iran, and this has led private companies to look for alternative ways to engage in international trade. 

“The sanctions have also prevented humanitarian aid to Iran,” she said, expressing her disappointment. 

She continued by saying that even the academic articles of Iranian scientists are bounced back and this violates the right to academic and active education.

Leave a Comment

3 + 1 =