Explanation of Vote on Agenda Item 51(a): Unilateral Economic Measures as a Means of Political and Economic Coercion against Developing Countries, in the Second Committee of the Sixty-Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
December 9, 2009


Mr. Chairperson, the United States believes that each Member State has the sovereign right to determine how it conducts trade with other countries.   In particular, we believe that promoting important, nationally held values, or protecting the national interest, is a sovereign right that supports restricting trade when necessary. 

The UN Charter specifically provides for sanctions as part of a broader strategy of political and diplomatic measures that can help promote or restore peace without the use of force.  The United States considers its sanctions carefully and uses them with specific objectives in mind.  In many instances we use sanctions as a means to promote a return to rule of law or democratic systems.  In others we aim to prevent access to harmful materials, like nuclear weaponry, that can threaten global peace and stability.  We are within our rights to pursue both of these goals via our trade and commercial policy. 

Economic sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral, are often a successful means of achieving foreign policy objectives.  By passing this resolution, the General Assembly in effect seeks to limit the international community's ability to respond to offensive acts  by non-violent means- be they acts against democracy, human rights or world security.  

We believe that economic sanctions can be an appropriate, an effective and a legitimate alternative to the use of force.  We have therefore requested a recorded vote on this resolution and will vote no.


PRN: 2009/318