Preliminary findings of the visit to the Republic of Zimbabwe by the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights


Harare (28 October 2021), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Prof. Alena Douhan, visited Zimbabwe from 17 to 28 October 2021. The purpose of the visit was to assess the impact of unilateral sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights by people living in Zimbabwe and other affected people.

These observations are of a preliminary character, and the result of extensive consultations with a wide range of interlocutors. The full report will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2022.

The Special Rapporteur met the President of Zimbabwe; the Speaker of Parliament; the Chief Justice; and the Governor of the Reserve Bank; the Chief Secretary to the President, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; of Finance and Economic Development; of Defence and War Veterans Affairs; of Women and Small and Medium Enterprise Development; of Higher Education, Science and Technology Development; of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry; of Mines and Mining Development; of Home Affairs and Cultural Development; of Youth, Sports,
Arts and Recreation; of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services; of Industry and Commerce; of Local Government and Public Works; of Energy and Power Development; of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; of Lands,
Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement; of Primary and Secondary Education; of Transport and Infrastructural Development; of Health and Child Care; as well as the Provincial Minister of Harare; the Human Rights Commission of Zimbabwe, the University of Zimbabwe, Warren Park Secondary School, and Sally Mugabe Central Hospital.

She also met the UN Country team; members of various political parties; independent civil society organizations, women’s rights activists and human rights defenders; faith-based organizations; trade unions; business, small and mediumsized enterprises; employers and bankers associations; members of diplomatic community; medical personnel, university professors, independent researchers, and school teachers.

The Special Rapporteur also had the opportunity to visit Bulawayo and met its Provincial Minister, as well as representatives of the private sector, the health sector, the school and higher education sector, as well as representatives of political parties. She also conducted visits to the National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Bus Corporation of Zimbabwe, which allowed to gather first-hand information on the impact of over-compliance with sanctions.

The Special Rapporteur extends her gratitude to all these interlocutors who have generously offered their time, information, analysis, experiences and thoughts to help her understand in a short time what has proved to be a very complex and alarming situation.

Although the Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to meet many representatives of independent civil society organizations and human rights defenders, she notes with regret that a substantial number of NGOs and some other interlocutors failed to engage with the mandate due to various hateful and intimidating messages that appeared in social media and news outlets, and an alleged fear of losing foreign donations. The Special Rapporteur reiterates her invitation to all interlocutors to share their views and experience on the impact of unilateral sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights in Zimbabwe, ahead of the final report.

The Special Rapporteur commends the warm welcome and the constructive and cooperative way in which the Government facilitated her visit, which enabled a frank and open dialogue. She expresses particular thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its efficient engagement with her office. She also thanks the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s office for its support throughout the visit.