IS ZIMBABWE UNDER SANCTIONS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS?
The UN Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are the only multilateral bodies authorized and equipped to impartially investigate human rights violations, make rulings, and give recommendations on action to be taken against infringing nations through the UN General Assembly or Security Council.
Claims of human rights violations against individuals and senior government officials of nations that are not signatories to the Rome Statute (ICC), cannot be brought to the ICC but must be administered in the sovereign states or reported to the Human Rights Council, which can then pass a resolution for the establishment of ad hoc criminal tribunals against such individuals.
Human rights violations can also be brought to the General Assembly and Security Council by the Human Rights Council for a vote, which can resolve that sanctions be imposed on a nation.
Any punitive action upon a nation or decision to try individuals through a criminal tribunal can only be instituted after the Human Rights Council has looked at all facts, investigated, made a resolution that is voted for and passed by the General Assembly and Security Council.
In the case of the ICJ, allegations of human rights violations must be made by a nation-state against another state. The case will be tried by 15 judges, and the indicted nation given the opportunity to defend itself. If found guilty, the court will determine the remedy.
If the UN General Assembly votes for sanctions or punitive measures on a nation, the Human Rights Council is mandated to assess and weigh the impact punitive measures or sanctions will have on the human rights of citizens in the infringing nation, before imposing a penalty.
Throughout the punitive measures or sanctions regime, a Human Impact Assessment will be carried out periodically by the Human Rights Council, and the UN is obliged to remedy any negative effects their sanctions have on civilians enjoying their human rights.
In the case of Zimbabwe, none of these bodies have ever made any adverse finding or ruling against the nation, its government, or any of its senior officials for any of the purported atrocities expounded by the West.
In fact, no charges have ever been brought against the government of Zimbabwe for any of the human rights violations alleged by the west to have been perpetrated by the government, to justify the west punishing Zimbabweans by illegal sanctions. This is why, neither body of the UN has recommended UN sanctions upon the country or its leadership.
However, the bodies have ruled against Israel for crimes against humanity in Palestine and violating U.N. resolutions on territorial occupation. Meanwhile, the ICJ has made numerous rulings against the US government, with the last in October 2018, when the court ruled that US unilateral sanctions on Iran violated Iranian civilian rights.
The Human Rights Council has also passed several resolutions (UNHRC RES 34/13, UNHRC RES 27/21 and UN 44/215) declaring unilateral sanctions used by the U.S. on countries such as Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Somalia, Zimbabwe, and Qatar to be illegal and a violation of human rights.
On several occasions, the Security Council has proposed imposing sanctions on Israel for breaking international law, only for the US to veto the measures in a disregard for international law or human rights.
This means that any sanctions upon Zimbabwe, allegedly for human rights violations, determined unilaterally by the US and its western allies without due process, are null, void, and illegal. They are illegal because they have not undergone U.N. dispute resolution procedures, nor have they received votes from the General Assembly or Security Council, the bodies of nations that should decide on legal actions to be taken against countries for human rights violations.
It is essential for Zimbabweans to appreciate that US and EU sanctions on the country and its individuals have been placed based on allegations of human rights violations that have not been tested in any criminal tribunal where the accused sanctioned parties had opportunities to defend themselves, as the international bill of human rights mandates.
This is why the multilateral process of dispute resolution laid out by the U.N. is significant because it prevents unilateralism, which could lead to continued racist, discriminatory, and exploitative practices by the same Berlin Conference states that instituted the crime against humanity of colonialism and slavery.
Unilateralism continues to open the door for the west to continue exploiting non-white nations' interests at the expense of those nations, as they did with slavery and colonialism and this is why the UN created resolution 44/215 in 1989, to stop former colonizers from using unilateral sanctions to force former colonies to make policies suitable for the colonizer.
By Rutendo Matinyarare, Chairman of ZASM and founder of Frontline Strat Marketing.