RSN Fundraising Banner
US Sanctions on Venezuela Illegal Under UN, OAS and US Law
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=33791"><span class="small">teleSUR</span></a>   
Friday, 07 June 2019 12:33

Excerpt: "The application of unilateral economic sanctions is an explicit violation of international law protected under the United Nation's (U.N.) and Organization of American States's (OAS) charters, human rights stipulations, and even national United States (U.S.) law. Despite that truth, they have become U.S. President Donald Trump's favorite tool to assert his foreign policy goals around the world."

Children queue as they wait to receive free food which was prepared by residents and volunteers on a street in the low-income neighborhood of Caucaguita in Caracas, Venezuela. (photo: Henry Romero/Reuters)
Children queue as they wait to receive free food which was prepared by residents and volunteers on a street in the low-income neighborhood of Caucaguita in Caracas, Venezuela. (photo: Henry Romero/Reuters)

US Sanctions on Venezuela Illegal Under UN, OAS and US Law

By teleSUR

07 June 19


he application of unilateral economic sanctions is an explicit violation of international law protected under the United Nation’s (U.N.) and Organization of American States’s (OAS) charters, human rights stipulations, and even national United States (U.S.) law. Despite that truth, they have become U.S. President Donald Trump’s favorite tool to assert his foreign policy goals around the world.

Since 2017, the Trump administration has imposed 150 sanctions on individuals and entities in Venezuela via executive orders and by invoking the so-called Kingpin Act. Their goal, as Trump has expressed many times, is to oust the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, no matter the human cost. 

A recent report made by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), revealed that 40,000 people may have died in the Latin American nation in the last two years because of these measures. Meanwhile, more than US$30 billion of Venezuelan government assets are blocked up due to U.S. sanctions preventing the nation from exporting and importing goods, including food and medicine. 

“It is hard to figure out how measures which have the effect of destroying Venezuela’s economy...can be aimed at ‘helping the Venezuelan people’, as claimed by the U.S. Treasury,” said the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, condemning their use and calling out their illegality.

According to Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, sanctions are to be imposed by the U.N. Security Council, following a determination that there is a threat to or a breach of international peace and security.

This means that a sole U.N. member state is not entitled to impose economic sanctions upon another member or any sovereign state. The application of said unilateral sanctions itself violates the U.N.’s Declaration on the Principles of International Law, concerned with friendly relations and cooperation among states. 

The resolution, in accordance with its charter, was adopted by the General Assembly on October 1970, and it references “the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State.”

The fact that the U.S. sanctions countries away whenever its president pleases, can be considered a hostile act. But even in wartime, these sorts of collective punishments are illegal under the Geneva Conventions. 

The 1977 Additional Protocols to the Conventions prohibit any wartime measure that has the effect of depriving a civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival, be it food, water or medicine. In Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians, these “collective penalties” are banned. 

“Sanctions kill,” Alfred De Zayas, former secretary of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) and an expert in international law told The Independent, adding that they affect mostly the poorest sectors of society, demonstrably cause death through food and medical shortages, lead to violations of human rights, and are aimed at coercing foreign entities. 

By doing so they violate one of the principal agreements reached by world governments, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1948. This set of basic rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled are the right to life, to work, to be educated, to be food and to housing, among others.

According to the now extinct, Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in its resolution 1997/35 of August 28, 1997, entitled “Adverse Consequences of Economic Sanctions on the Enjoyment of Human Rights”, the agency points out that sanctions: “affect the innocent population, especially the most vulnerable, aggravate imbalances in income distribution, and generate illegal and unethical business practices.”

According to a study by the Venezuelan National Survey on Living Conditions, more than 300,000 people were considered at risk due to a lack of access to medicine or treatments. On May 23, Executive Secretary of the Venezuelan National Human Rights Council (CNDH), Larry Devoe, denounced through his official account on Twitter, the death of a seven-year-old infant as a result sanctions making it impossible to receive a bone marrow transplant.

Based solely on humanitarian law, specifically on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), states are prohibited from imposing a blockade, siege or regime of economic sanctions with the purpose of causing starvation among the civilian population.

Also, states must allow the free passage of medical and hospital consignments and essential food, clothing, and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers and maternity cases. This applies directly to naval and land blockades, a similar situation Palestinians face with the illegal blockade by the Israelis. 

“The resort by a major power of its dominant position in the international financial arena against its own allies to cause economic hardship to the economy of sovereign States is contrary to international law, and inevitably undermines the human rights of their citizens,”  Special Rapporteur Jazairy commented.

Still, Trump’s sanctions not only violate U.N. law but regional mandates. According to the OAS charter, chapter IV, articles 19 and 20, states are prohibited from intervening in a foreign country, “not only by armed force but also any other form of interference ... against its political, economic, and cultural elements,” adding that “no state may use or encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another.”

And as Columbia University economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot have pointed out, to cap it all off, these sanctions even violate U.S. law. All sanctions under the Trump administration, and before, have been made through executive orders invoking the 1976 National Emergencies Act. 

Under this legislation, the executive assumes this special power to advocate for a nation suffering a “national emergency,” and in signing the order on Venezuela, Trump argues that the Bolivarian nation represents an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the U.S. This does not have a valid legal justification. The U.S. president applied this same misuse of power to fund his border wall, which has resulted in individual and congressional lawsuits. 

The current and ongoing use of “economic warfare” through the use of “modern-day economic sanctions and blockades” can be comparable to “medieval sieges of towns,” as De Zayas said in an HRC 2018 report. Based on all the violations of human rights and international law, the U.N. expert gave a clear recommendation to the international community: that the International Criminal Court investigate the economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

Email This Page your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-07 17:45
This is very good. Sanctions are a form of war. They kill people, most often the vulnerable in a society and that means children, pregnant, women, and old people. So the Trump criminal regime thinks killing vulnerable people is a good idea.

In a leaked audio of Pompeo speaking privately, Pompeo confesses that overthrowing the Maduro government has been his goal since he took the job at the CIA. He has no confidence in Guiado, who is treated as only a stand in.

The article above makes very clear that the assault on Venezuela IS Trump "high crimes and misdemeanors." This is what he should be impeached for. This is clearly criminal on very many levels. The Mueller BS is nothing more than BS.

We now need to make sure that congressional democrats understand that this is the real impeachable crime. Dumping Trump for the crime of regime change would send a good message to all future presidents, and some past ones. Swallowing the Mueller BS will do nothing.

It is not just Venezuela. The US has a dozen or so nation under severe sanctions. There are more with lesser sanctions. The Magnitsky Act allows individuals to be sanctioned for virtually any reason at all.

The best thing congress could do for the world in impeach Trump for his criminal use of sanctions.
+2 # tedrey 2019-06-08 07:51
Congress, Democrat or Republican, will do no such thing. Both parties have every intention of employing illegal unilateral sanctions, as well as invasions, regime changes, economic threats, election meddling, et al., whenever they in turn are in the position to do so. It is a long time since America's political and economic elites paid the slightest attention to international, or even U.S. law.
+3 # DongiC 2019-06-07 18:33
Well, the US has become an international law breaker because of its sanction policy re Venezuela. We even prohibit some medicines getting through to the people of that unfortunate country. Guess Trump doesn't care what other nations in Latin America think of us. As long as Maduro doesn't become President. His problem was that he won the last presidential election in Venezuela.
+1 # janie1893 2019-06-08 00:33
Is there some way that Trump can be sanctioned for existing? He is not human and becomes more alien in his actions every day. I cannot believe that Americans continue to allow this creature to behave in the manner that he does.
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-06-08 08:07
Alas: when did Law ever prevent the USA from committing Crimes against Humanity whenever it pleased? Its rejection of the International Criminal Court makes that quite clear.
+1 # tedrey 2019-06-08 08:12
I would suggest that the citizens demand a law that the American government should *obey* the laws, but the Congress would refuse to consider it, the administration would refuse to enforce it, and the Supreme Court would declare it unconstitutiona l.
0 # apotem 2019-06-09 05:46
True face of American "democracy"
+2 # lfeuille 2019-06-08 13:39
It just doesn't matter. They people who support this war on Venezuela just don't care about the law.
+1 # tedrey 2019-06-08 14:13
This may sound like heresy, but democracies are not necessarily peace-loving. Democratic governments don't give a damn for anyone who doesn't have an effective vote, and that includes minorities and foreigners.

Think about it before down-voting me.