Regular sanctions are terrible, pandemic sanctions are worse! Lift them!

Dear President Biden,

We welcome the review you have ordered regarding the impacts of financial and economic sanctions on the global response to the pandemic. Your predecessor’s decision to double down on the imposition of sanctions, throughout the pandemic, was cruel and was met with global widespread condemnation. 

Over the past year, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and Pope Francis, along with countless parliamentarians, economists and experts, have called for the easing of sanctions.

It has been widely reported that sanctions have directly impeded the acquisition of medicine and medical supplies, including the Covid-19 vaccine itself, in Iran, Venezuela and others. Therefore it is already evident that sanctions are “unduly hindering” the response to the pandemic. 

The humanitarian exemptions included in sanctions legislation are ineffective in practice. There is a cumbersome process to obtain licenses, confusing language as to what is or is not exempt, and overcompliance by banks and companies that are hesitant to carry out transactions or sell goods to sanctioned countries.

Broad sanctions have severe economic consequences that directly impact the lives of everyday people. These consequences have been aggravated as a result of the global health crisis. A tool that was ostensibly implemented to punish the leaders of these countries instead punishes countless innocent civilians. 

We strongly urge your administration to immediately implement broad sanctions relief. Sanctions kill and they kill indiscriminately. 



Cc: Secretary Blinken
Secretary Raimondo
Secretary Yellen


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