UN experts warn unilateral designation of States as Sponsors of Terrorism negatively impact human rights

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights | Friday, 9 February 2024 | Click here for original article

UN experts* have urged the United States to review its domestic framework that triggers specific sanctions against States designated as Sponsors of Terrorism (SST).

Currently four countries – the Republic of Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPR Korea), the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic – figure on this U.S. Department of State list, with additional restrictions imposed on them because of the designation.

“The unilateral designation itself goes against the fundamental principles of international law, including the principle of sovereign equality of States, the prohibition to intervene into domestic affairs of states and the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes,” the experts said. They recalled that these principles constitute universally recognised peremptory norms of international law.

“Fundamental human rights, including the right to food, right to health, right to education, economic and social rights, right to life and right to development, are negatively affected by the additional restrictions and prohibitions triggered by SST designations,” the experts said.

“Furthermore, the process through which the designation is made is unclear and non-transparent. Relevant US legislative Acts exacerbate fear and uncertainty, establish or reinforce over-compliance among humanitarian and other actors who may wish to engage with or operate in the territory of the designated country,” they said. “The designation particularly affects countries already subject to other unilateral coercive measures and has potential catastrophic humanitarian and human rights impacts.”

The experts have previously raised concerns on the negative impact of over-compliance with the U.S. Government. Additional restrictions and unilateral sanctions from the SST designations create a chilling effect, blocking access to designated countries. “This all-encompassing isolation of the State designated as a sponsor of terrorism may negatively affect the delivery of essential goods, including food, medicine, medical equipment and other supplies, including humanitarian goods under UN Security Council humanitarian resolutions,” the experts warned.

“We urge the United States to comply fully with its international obligations, also extraterritorially,” the experts said.

They called on the U.S. Government to review fully the current SST designations framework, leaving it within the authority of the UN Security Council as set forth in the United Nations Charter. Pending their rescission, the U.S. must take action to prevent negative humanitarian impacts, the experts said.

The experts have engaged with the Government of the United States on this issue.

*The experts: Alena Douhan, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights; Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Attiya Waris, Independent Expert on foreign debt, other international financial obligations and human rights; Cecilia M. Bailliet, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

Join our campaign and write to the US ambassador in the UK to demand that the US government remove Cuba from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list and end the inhumane blockade.

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