In a joint statement read by Chinese envoy Zhang Jun at the United Nations, they slammed the United States for “violating human rights and hindering development” in countries on which it places economic sanctions.
“The response to and recovery from COVID-19 requires global solidarity and international cooperation,” the countries said in the statement.
“However, we continue to witness the application of unilateral coercive measures, which are contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law,” they said.
“We seize this opportunity to call for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures, in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to COVID-19.”
Among the countries that backed the statement were half a dozen that face sanctions by the United States, the European Union and other Western nations, including Iran, China, Russia, North Korea, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Syria.
The statement was made to the UN General Assembly’s third committee, which focuses on human rights and humanitarian affairs.
The statement notes that both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, have called for the waiving of sanctions that undermine a country’s capacity to respond to the pandemic.
In the past four years, Washington and the EU have accelerated their use of sanctions, which can try to lock countries out of the global, dollar-based trade system, and seize assets in certain jurisdictions.
The 26 countries also took aim at “chronic and deep-rooted racial discrimination, police brutality and social inequality.”
They cited the shooting by police of two black Americans, George Floyd who died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis in May, and Jacob Blake, shot by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August and left paralyzed from the waist down.
“The COVID-19 mortality rate of minorities, in particular people of African descent, is disproportionately high in some countries,” their statement said.
AFP and AP contributed to this story.