A United Nations Independent Expert has called for the lifting of unilateral sanctions against Zimbabwe while urging a meaningful structured dialogue on political reform, human rights and the rule of law in the country.

Alena Douhan, who is the Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures, concluded a two-week visit to Zimbabwe upon which she pointed to unilateral sanctions as having exacerbated pre-existing social and economic challenges on the people of Zimbabwe.

In a statement, Douhan says the unilateral sanctions and the over-compliance with the measures in their complexity had exacerbated pre-existing economic conditions, especially for those living in poverty, women, children and the elderly among others.

She warned that over the last two decades, the sanctions and their effects have had an insidious ripple effect on the economy and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment.

She called on the United States and others to lift their sanctions on targetted individuals and entities, adding that the time was right to engage in a meaningful structured dialogue and to abandon rhetoric on sanctions as an advocacy tool.