Statement – Suspend All Economic Sanctions


Cuban doctor operating in Haiti

This is an historic moment.


Much of the world is coming together to take issue with the fact that, despite our common humanity, the US government has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by increasing its sanctions against the governments of Iran and Venezuela. The Trump administration has fallen short of already-low expectations. It appears before the world as inhumane, but also shortsighted – because the fight against the coronavirus is a global fight. We can only win by pulling together.

Major world figures, such as UN Secretary-General Guterres, have called for the suspension of all economic sanctions during the pandemic. In his March 23, 2020, letter to the leaders of the G20 countries, Guterres declared, “I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion… Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.” (1)

This call was reiterated by legendary US movie producer Oliver Stone, among many others. Notably, thirty-two Congressional Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, wrote an open letter to US Secretaries of State and of the Treasury, Pompeo and Mnuchin, calling upon them to show some humanity and good sense in calling off US sanctions specifically on Iran, as it wrestles with the pandemic. They also left the door open to suspending sanctions on other countries. (2)

It could be argued that, while these Democrats call on the Trump Administration to do the right thing, it would have been better had they not criticized Iran’s handling of its response to the coronavirus. This is because the USA itself did not take appropriate measures to break the chain of infection on its own territory. This US failure has compounded the epidemic.

Most of the US economic sanctions on Iran are unilateral and therefore illegal: they weren’t authorized by the UN Security Council (UNSC). All US sanctions on Venezuela, Syria, Cuba, China, Nicaragua, and Russia are similarly illegal. Applying economic sanctions is a warlike act, and often kills more people than actual weapons. That’s why the power to level economic sanctions is restricted exclusively to the UNSC. Moreover, these sanctions hurt the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society by causing hunger, disease, and unemployment. They are designed to do so. US officials have spoken openly about using suffering to try and spur ordinary civilians in targeted countries to rebel against their leaders. That the US government would actually increase the sanctions during a pandemic is simply uncivilized.

As Canadians, we are not blameless. The Canadian government has levelled economic sanctions on Iran. In fact, it led the campaign for coordinated and severe sanctions against Syria, Venezuela and North Korea. It also has levelled sanctions against Russia and Nicaragua.

Canadians should follow the declaration of UN Secretary-General Guterres and the good example of the 32 Democratic Party congresspeople. We should lobby the Trudeau government, and opposition parties likewise, to call for suspending Canadian economic sanctions on countries for at least the duration of the pandemic.


The Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War asks you please to do three things:

  1. contact your member of parliament to urge them to raise their voices in Parliament, on social media, or in the mainstream media, asking the Trudeau government to heed the advice of UN Secretary-General Guterres to suspend all economic sanctions now, as well as observe a temporary global ceasefire, and support a massive global fund to help poorer countries fight Covid-19. Please see sample letter below;
  2. sign our petition to Justin Trudeau to suspend all of Canada’s economic sanctions at
  3. share this statement with your networks.

Word Document of this statement:

Sanctions Statement


You can find your MP by clicking on


Please send the following message to your MP:

PETITION: Suspend All Economic Sanctions Now!

You can download a copy of of the petition at this link:


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