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ohchr.org: Russia and Allies Refuse to Support UN Declarations on Health

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Monday, 18 September 2023

Russia and Allies Refuse to Support UN Declarations on Health
United Nations 18/09/2023  Kerry Cullinan

Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe wrote to UN president Dennis Francis on Sunday alluding to a “political stalemate” relating to “unilateral coercive measures (UCMs).”

According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights Commission (OHRHC), UCMs “usually refers to economic measures taken by one state to compel a change in the policy of another state”, including trade sanctions,  embargoes, asset freezing and travel bans.

One of the issues that has apparently angered the 11 countries is that the Political Declaration on UHC initially had language on “refraining from promulgating and applying any unilateral, economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law”. However, this has been removed from the final draft.

Numerous Russian officials have had their assets frozen by Western countries as a result of the Ukraine war, while Cuba has faced a US trade blockade for decades.

However, Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership (STBP), told a webinar last week that long-held health rights had also been contested during the negotiations on all three political declarations on health.

“I was in the room and I could hear with my own ears and see with my own eyes Member States literally saying ‘we don’t want to see any language around gender’; ‘can you remove everything that is about the rights of the key and vulnerable populations’. Bodily autonomy and integrity is like up there in the sky,” said Ditiu.

“Even as weak, as watered down as these declarations are, as far as I understand, none of them is actually fully endorsed.” 

Four grievances

In the Letter to UNGA 17 September 2023, sent on a letterhead from the Venezuelan Representative to the UN, the countries outline four key grievances.

First, a small group of developed countries were unwilling to “engage in meaningful negotiations to find compromises, forcing unfair practices which pretend to impose a kind of ‘veto’ on certain issues, and pretending to even prevent their discussion within the framework of intergovernmental negotiations”.

Second, “negotiations were not conducted in a truly inclusive, fair and balanced way”, including the draft outcome of the SDGs Summit being “reopened with the purpose of exclusively accommodating the priorities of a few delegations from developed countries” while “nothing was done to reflect and accommodate the legitimate concerns of delegations from developing countries that, in addition, had broken silence repeatedly, including the Group of 77 and China”.

Third, there were attempts to “ignore formal communications of delegations from developing countries, including from the Group of 77 and China, on behalf of its 134 Member States, indicating strong reservations and objections.”

Finally, the letter claims that the UNGA president had attempted to “force consensus” when it is” evident that no consensus has been reached on any of these processes”.

The delegations conclude by saying that they will “oppose any attempt to pretend to formally adopt any of the draft outcome documents in question, during the meetings scheduled for 18, 20, 21 and 22 September 2023, respectively”. 

Despite the formal objection, the Political Declaration on the SDGs was adopted on Monday.

Russia And Allies Refuse To Support UN Declarations On ...



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