An International Appeal Against Sanctions and Collective Punishment

We raise our voice to oppose the use of U.S- imposed sanctions, embargoes and blockades.These actions are collective punishment against civilian populations.

Sanctions are war – weapons of mass destruction. They impact whole countries, resulting in chronic shortages, economic dislocation and chaotic hyperinflation. Those who impose sanctions aim to induce artificial famines, disease, poverty, and despair among the most vulnerable. In every country, the poorest and the weakest – infants, children, the chronically ill and the elderly — suffer the worst impact of sanctions.

The United States and its dollar has economic domination across the entire world, especially the Global South. Under those conditions, sanctions have more power to kill and maim than ever before. More and more, the U.S. government applies economic sanctions against more than 30 developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Sanctions are Washington’s silent and deadly weapon of choice.

Because of its economic dominance and because its 800+ military bases worldwide back its policies, the U.S. then demands that all other countries participate in this act of economic strangulation. They must end all normal trade relations. Otherwise they risk having Wall Street’s guns pointed at them. The banks and financial institutions that are responsible for the devastation of our communities at home drive the plunder of countries abroad.

We can see how this works with Venezuela. Washington imposes the harshest and most all-pervasive sanctions on record against the people of Venezuela. Essential medicines in Venezuela have been cut by more than 80%. The Venezuelan government’s ability to purchase basic foodstuffs, needed supplies for food production, sanitation and sewage, along with equipment for the electric grid and communications have been intentionally frozen. Washington has been quite clear that these sanctions will continue until a government it selects runs Venezuela. Venezuela faces siege-like conditions until its democracy is destroyed.

Cuba and North Korea have suffered from decades of enforced shortages of sanctions and economic blockade. Sanctions have distorted the economies and created enormous hardships in Zimbabwe, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iran and Nicaragua.

From its inception, humanitarian law has endeavored to prevent the use of cruel and unfocused weapons. This law should protect civilians from the scourge of war. It outlaws collective punishment.

By imposing sanctions, the U.S. is committing a crime against humanity as defined under the terms of the Nuremberg Principles.  Economic sanctions clearly violate the United Nations’ Charter, the Geneva Convention and other fundamental institutions and documents of contemporary international law.


Twenty-five years ago, the International Action Center initiated an International Appeal to oppose the use of economic sanctions and blockades as a weapon against Iraq.

At the time, these sanctions caused the death of more than half a million children in Iraq within the first five years.

Tens of thousands of people signed the appeal and mobilized solidarity actions and delegations attended by thousands worldwide. Signers included heads of state, other political leaders, and peace, justice and human rights organizations. We must again raise a worldwide outcry against the expanding use of all sanctions.