MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 10th April, 2020) It is important to mitigate the unintentional consequences of sanctions that are imposed on countries even while they are severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tobias Privitelli, the deputy head of the Swiss diplomatic mission to Russia, told Sputnik.
In late March, the permanent UN representatives of Russia, China, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, and Venezuela sent a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for the lifting of unilateral sanctions on several countries amid the global pandemic. However, a Russia-drafted General Assembly resolution calling for solidarity and global sanctions relief was blocked last week by the US, EU, UK, Ukraine, and Georgia.
"Regarding the effects of international sanctions, Switzerland has consistently been highlighting the importance of minimizing any unintended consequences they may have, especially in the humanitarian field. In the past, Switzerland has been one of the leading contributors to the concept of 'targeted' or 'smart' sanctions, which precisely aim at avoiding unintended consequences of sanctions on the civilian population," Privitelli said.
Humanitarian goods never fall under the Swiss sanctions regime on other states, while the provision of humanitarian aid is regularly excluded from the restrictive measures, according to the diplomat.
"Concerning Iran, Switzerland has been the first country to set up a payment mechanism for the export of humanitarian goods to Iran. The so-called Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) came into effect on February 27, 2020. A pilot transaction was successfully carried out at the end of January 2020. With the SHTA, Switzerland is helping to supply the Iranian population with agricultural commodities, food, medicines and medical equipment," Privitelli underlined, as Iran has gravely suffered from the outbreak of the COVID-19.
At the same time, the Swiss sanctions on Syria include numerous exceptions, which were expanded in October in order to allow having business ties necessary for humanitarian organizations operating in Syria.