North Korea and seven other member states have requested the UN push for the full lifting of unilateral sanctions against them, a letter signed by the countries showed Thursday, arguing that the measures hinder their ability to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
While not naming the U.S., the note sees the DPRK, as well as Cuba, China, Syria, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela urge UN Secretary General António Guterres to push for the “immediate lifting” of “coercive measures” that hamper efforts to fight the coronavirus.
“The destructive impact of said measures at the national level, plus their extraterritorial implications… hinder the ability of national governments to, among others have regular access to the international financial system or to free trade,” the letter says.
These measures, it adds, were “undermining ongoing efforts of national governments to attack the COVID-19, especially in relation to the effective and timely procurement of medical equipment and supplies.”
“We must avoid the collapse of any country’s medical and health system as a result of the application of illegal sanctions,” the letter continues.
“We cannot allow for political calculations to get in the way of saving lives.”
The devastating outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked global calls for a relaxation of sanctions against, among others, North Korea and Iran.
The office of the UN Secretary General is yet to formally respond to Thursday’s letter.
But speaking Thursday at a video conference of world leaders, Secretary General Guterres echoed its calls, and “appealed for the waiving of sanctions that can undermine [a] country’s capacity to respond to this pandemic.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also earlier this week said that sanctions had “impeded” the ability of countries — including North Korea — to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. has appeared to reject those calls, however, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday calling on member states to remain united in efforts to pressure North Korea into relinquishing its nuclear weapons.
North Korea continues to deny having any cases of the highly-contagious COVID-19 within its borders, and last week touted its successes in achieving a “clean land” free of coronavirus.
Edited by James Fretwell