Zimbabwe: UN Calls for Sanctions Removal

Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter ‘

UNITED Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Professor Alena Douhan, has urged the United States to unconditionally remove unilateral sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The latest information is contained in her report compiled after visiting Zimbabwe where she engaged with stakeholders across the political divide.

Prof Douhan is on record saying that the United States and other Western countries should lift illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe as the unilateral punitive measures were making ordinary people suffer.

“The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of the United States to cease the state of national emergency regarding Zimbabwe, which is not in accordance with the norms of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to bring national legislation into line with international law, including human rights law, refugee law and the law of international responsibility.”

The report says Zimbabwe historically relied on foreign trade to sustain its economy.

It last registered a trade surplus in 2000, at $155 million, representing approximately 74 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Overall production increased 1.44 percent in 2001 after a shortfall in previous years.

“However, sanctions targeted various entities in key productive sectors of the economy, including mining, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, which made it challenging for Zimbabwe to rely on its trade and industry to promote growth.

“During the first decade under sanctions, the country’s trade balance spiralled to -23.8 percent, in 2010, and has stayed negative since then.”

The report says sanctions imposed on the country facilitated de-industrialisation, as key agriculture, mining and manufacturing companies were barred from selling their products in the United States and European Union markets.

“The economic contraction went from -3.1 percent in 2000 to -17.7 percent in 2008. Thousands of workers were forced out of employment in the formal economy, and multiple local companies closed down.

“This nurtured the expansion of the informal sector as a method of resilience, estimated at 94.5 percent in 2014 and 75.6 percent in 2019.

“Foreign direct investments were affected as investors avoided risks, given the negative perceptions about the economy and the country’s governance.

“This led to increased unemployment, estimated at 94 percent in the formal sector by the end of 2008, and to a significant loss of qualified professionals. From 2000 to 2008, the gross national income per person fell by 35 percent.

“There was a significant loss of public revenue, which was critically undermined by consistently high inflation that surged from 56 per cent in 2000 to 599 percent in 2003.”

The report says unilateral sanctions decimated the economic performance of the country, thereby aggravating the humanitarian situation and consequently adversely impacting access to basic rights, including to life, food, water and sanitation, health and education, and the rights of Zimbabwean residents, migrants and refugees.

The report also blamed the illegal sanctions placed on the country for impacting badly on the health system.

Sanctions restricted the healthcare system from accessing medical consumables abroad.

“Prior to sanctions, these facilities were, to some extent, supplied with medicines, ambulances and qualified personnel.

“In the 1990s, it was estimated that 85 per cent of the population had access to health care.”

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