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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1999/21

The Commission on Human Rights,
Recalling the purposes and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
Reaffirming the pertinent principles and provisions contained in the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 3281 (XXIX) of 12 December 1974, in particular article 32 which declares that no State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights,

Recalling its resolution 1998/11 of 9 April 1998 and noting General assembly resolution 53/141 of 9 December 1998,

Taking note with interest of the report of the Secretary-General on human rights and unilateral coercive measures (E/CN.R/1999/44 and Add.1-2),

Recognising and reiterating the universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated character of all human rights and, in this regard, reaffirming the right to development as an integral part of all human rights,

Expressing its concern about the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures in the field of international relations, trade, investment and cooperation,

Recalling that the World Conference on Human Rights called upon States to refrain from any unilateral measure not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that creates obstacles to trade relations among States and impedes the full realisation of all human rights,

Deeply concerned that, despite the recommendations adopted on this issue by the General Assembly and United Nations conferences and contrary to general international law and the Charter of the United Nations, unilateral coercive measures continue to be promulgated and implemented with all their negative implications for the social-humanitarian activities of developing countries, including their extraterritorial effects, thereby creating additional obstacles to the full enjoyment of all human rights by peoples and individuals,

  1. Urges all States to refrain from adopting or implementing unilateral measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, in particular those of a coercive nature with extraterritorial effects, which create obstacles to trade relations among States, thus impeding the full realisation of the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, in particular the right of individuals and peoples to development;
  2. Rejects the application of such measures as tools for political or economic pressure against any country, particularly against developing countries, because of their negative effects on the realisation of all human rights of vast sectors of their populations, inter alia children, women, the elderly, disabled and ill people;
  3. Reaffirms, in this context, the right of all peoples to self-determination, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development;
  4. Also reaffirms that essential goods such as food and medicines should not be used as tools for political coercion, and that under no circumstances should people be deprived of their own means of subsistence and development;
  5. Underlines that unilateral coercive measures are one of the major obstacles to the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development and, in this regard, calls upon all States to avoid the unilateral imposition of economic coercive measures and the extraterritorial application of domestic laws which run counter to the principles of free trade and hamper the development of developing countries, as recognised by the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on the Right to Development in its most recent report;
  6. Invites the new open-ended working group on the right to development, which will meet after the fifty-fifth session of the Commission on Human Rights, to give due consideration to the question of human rights and the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures;
  7. Invites all Special Reporters and existing thematic mechanisms of the Commission in the field of economic, social and cultural rights to pay due attention, within the scope of their respective mandates, to the negative impact and consequences of unilateral coercive measures;
  8. Decides to give due consideration to the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures in its task concerning the implementation of the right to development;
  9. Requests:
    • The Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States and seek their views and information on the implications and negative effects of unilateral coercive measures on their populations, and to submit a report thereon to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-sixth session;
    • The Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States and seek their views and information on the implications and negative effects of unilateral coercive measures on their populations, and to submit a report thereon to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-sixth session;
  10. Decides to examine this question, on a priority basis, at its fifty-sixth session under the same agenda item.

52nd meeting
23 April 1999
[Adopted by 37 votes to 10, with 6 abstentions. See chap. X]

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