SECURITY COUNCIL CONCLUDES DISCUSSION ON SANCTIONS-RELATED ISSUES; WIDE SUPPORT EXPRESSED FOR ONGOING REVIEW PROCESS

25 October 2001
SC/7187

SECURITY COUNCIL CONCLUDES DISCUSSION ON SANCTIONS-RELATED ISSUES; WIDE SUPPORT EXPRESSED FOR ONGOING REVIEW PROCESS

25/10/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7187

Security Council

4394th (Resumed) Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL CONCLUDES DISCUSSION ON SANCTIONS-RELATED ISSUES;

WIDE SUPPORT EXPRESSED FOR ONGOING REVIEW PROCESS

Agreement Not Yet Reached on Working Group’s Report

The Security Council concluded its resumed public meeting on general issues related to sanctions this morning, with wide support expressed for recent discussions held in Interlaken, Bonn and Berlin to improve the implementation and monitoring of sanctions.  The meeting began on Monday, 22 October.

The Bonn and Berlin discussions focused on arms embargoes and travel-related sanctions.  The Interlaken process concentrated on the identification of basic legal and administrative requirements for national implementation of financial sanctions.

Speakers commended the efforts of experts at Interlaken, Bonn and Berlin, stating that the reports produced would be a useful guide for Council members in formulating future sanctions regimes.  A number of Council members called for the creation of a committee or mechanism to monitor implementation of all Council resolutions and enhance the effectiveness of sanctions regimes.  Other speakers welcomed the steps taken to impose targeted sanctions of a limited timeframe, which were aimed specifically at changing the conduct of individuals and groups.

The representative of Mauritius noted the Council had imposed 12 sanctions regimes in the last decade, some of which were still in effect.  Had those regimes worked and achieved their desired results? he asked.  Studies revealed that they had not.  Evidence showed that States continued to defy the observance of sanctions and that some States lacked the capacity to enforce them.  Also, the economic and humanitarian costs often outweighed the designs of the sanction regime. 

The representative of the United States said, while there were violations of sanctions, that did not mean that such measures were ineffective.  There was a great irony in the Council’s efforts to develop and impose effective sanctions. “Despite our best attempts, what can the Council do when a dictatorial regime itself holds its own people hostage?” he asked.  “What are we to think when a State or government denies its own people food, medicine and shelter –- items the international community is willing to provide to those most challenged?”

Tunisia’s representative said the United Nations must take a different approach if sanctions were to remain an integral part of an overall global conflict- prevention strategy.  What was needed was an overall view of the problems involved, and a remedy for solving them.

Sanctions were an extreme measure and could be applied only when all other methods were exhausted, the representative of the Russian Federation said.  They must be introduced strictly in accordance with the Charter and the norms of international law.  Also, the Council must state clearly the conditions for lifting them.  It was impermissible to set forth measures without limits.

Calling attention to the report of the Working Group on Sanctions and General Issues, the President of the Council, Richard Ryan (Ireland), recalled that the proposed outcome of the Working Group on Sanctions and General Issues had been circulated among Council members in February, but it had not yet been possible to agree on a final text.  He stressed the need to achieve agreement as soon as possible.  A small number of differences still existed and, while they related to issues of some sensitivity, they were not insurmountable. 

The representatives of Jamaica, United Kingdom, Norway, Colombia, Mali, Singapore and China also spoke.

The meeting, which resumed at 10:50 a.m., was adjourned at 11:50 a.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to continue its consideration of general issues relating to sanctions, resuming a meeting that began on Monday,   22 October.  Under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Security Council can take enforcement measures to maintain or restore international peace and security.  Such measures range from economic sanctions to international military action.

At its earlier meeting, the Council heard briefings from the Permanent Representative of Germany, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, and the Permanent Observer for Switzerland on, respectively, the Bonn process, the Inerlaken process, and the Stockholm process, which together are part of the Council’s effort to improve implementation and monitoring of sanctions.

The Bonn process focused on arms embargoes and travel-related sanctions.  The Interlaken process concentrated on the identification of basic legal and administrative requirements for national implementation of financial sanctions.  The Stockholm process will focus on how the United Nations and Member States could ensure effective monitoring of compliance and enforcement, and how best to assist Member States in implementing sanctions regimes.

According to the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (www.un.org/Docs/sc/committees), the Council has resorted to mandatory sanctions as an enforcement tool when peace has been threatened and diplomatic efforts have failed.  In the last decade, such sanctions have been imposed against Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Libya, Haiti, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) forces in Angola, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (including Kosovo), Afghanistan, and Eritrea and Ethiopia.  The range of sanctions has included comprehensive economic and trade sanctions and/or more specific measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, financial or diplomatic restrictions.

The use of mandatory sanctions is intended to apply pressure on a State or entity to comply with the objectives set by the Security Council without resorting to the use of force.  Sanctions thus offer the Security Council an important instrument to enforce its decisions.  The universal character of the United Nations makes it an especially appropriate body to establish and monitor such measures.

At the same time, a great number of States and humanitarian organizations have expressed concern at the possible adverse impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable segments of the population, such as women and children.  Concerns have also been expressed at the negative impact sanctions can have on the economy of third countries.

It is increasingly accepted that the design, application and implementation of sanctions mandated by the Security Council need to be improved.  The negative effects of sanctions can be reduced either through incorporating carefully thought out humanitarian exemptions directly in Security Council resolutions or by better targeting them.  So-called "smart sanctions", which seek to pressure regimes rather than peoples and thus reduce humanitarian costs, have been gaining further support.  Such sanctions, for instance, could involve freezing financial assets and blocking the financial transactions of political elites or entities whose behaviour triggered sanctions in the first place.  Recently, smart sanctions have been applied to "conflict diamonds" in African countries, where wars are funded in part by the trade of illicit diamonds for arms and related materiel.

On 17 April 2000, the members of the Security Council established, on a temporary basis, the Working Group on General Issues on Sanctions to develop general recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions.

Statements

M. PATRICIA DURANT (Jamaica) said that, if the Council was to maintain sanctions as a credible instrument, they must get it right.  Recent commentary regarding sanctions had often been negative, primarily due to the negative humanitarian effects of comprehensive sanctions on civilian populations.  During the past two years, the Council had shifted to targeting measures at the individuals responsible for the behaviour or policies condemned by the international community, as well as at those elites or groups who directly benefited from such behaviour or policies.  A broad consensus had emerged for sanctions that were designed to affect only those individuals whose behaviors should be changed.

She said that for sanctions to be effective they must be implemented within a prescribed timeframe and be subject to close monitoring and periodic review, to ensure their continued usefulness and validity, as well a to evaluate their impact on vulnerable populations and neighbouring States.  The Interlaken and Bonn-Berlin processes could provide useful tools for the design, implementation and monitoring of sanctions.  She supported the use of the guidelines provided in the manuals that had emerged from those processes.  It was important for the Council t adopt a new and comprehensive approach to the design and use of sanctions, consistent in implementation and monitoring.

She said the Working Group established by the Secretary-General to develop general recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of sanctions was asked to examine a number of issues.  The Working Group undertook an extensive review of the general issues related to sanctions.  Its report had been before the Council for the past several months, but so far the Council had not taken action.  Taken together with the Interlaken and Bonn-Berlin processes, the recommendations of the report would provide the necessary tools for ensuring better implementation of sanctions.  Improving sanctions also required reform within the Secretariat by means of adequate staffing, streamlining of procedures, technical expertise and support for and improved relations with regional organizations.

ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom) said the Interlaken, Bonn and Berlin discussions had enabled experts and others to produce valuable results, which could be of use to the Council.  Highlighting the work of the Group of Eight industrialized countries financial task force on money laundering, he said that entity could provide useful lessons for the Council.  Perhaps the next Interlaken session could look into the possibility of drawing up a similar entity.

He said that one way to improve the enforcement of sanctions would be to reinforce the capacity of the United Nations in that area through the creation of a permanent unit to monitor the effectiveness of sanctions regimes.  He said his delegation would also study what positive lessons could be learned from the Interlaken process that could be applied to the work of the anti-terrorism Committee.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that targeted sanctions applied pressure on decision-makers, and were designed to avoid negative consequences for the general population.  He added that targeting individuals responsible for policies that threatened international peace and security would increase the effectiveness of sanctions.  When designing sanctions, it was necessary to give attention to ruling elites, rebel movements and terrorists, and the means by which they financed their actions.  The objective must be to change or restrict their behaviour and to shield the civilian population from excessive suffering, he said.

He stressed that a system to enhance international cooperation to prevent illegal financial transactions must be further developed.  In that respect, the recently adopted resolution 1373 (2001) on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts and the subsequent work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee provided a model for implementation that could be further explored for other sanctions regimes.  Sanctions could only be effective if they were respected and properly implemented at the national level.  The manuals put forward by the Swiss and German Governments provided useful practical guidance related to the legal and administrative requirements for implementation. Effective implementation of targeted sanctions would be a major future challenge.

The proposal to establish a permanent unit for targeted sanctions was welcomed and deserved further discussion in the Council.  A sanctions unit could provide valuable support for the relevant sanctions committees in the fulfilment of their tasks.  Furthermore, it would allow the accumulation of institutional experience drawn from the different sanctions regimes.  He concluded by stating that Norway was looking forward to further enhancing sanctions regimes, so that the United Nations could effectively exercise its responsibility for international peace and security, while minimizing the suffering of civilian populations.

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) commended the efforts of experts at the Interlaken, Bonn and Berlin processes.  Both the reports produced were the result of intense consultation and would be a useful guide for Council members in formulating future sanctions regimes. Up until 1990, the United Nations had hardly used sanctions.  Such measures had only been frequently imposed in the last decade –- in 12 instances, some of which were still in effect.  Had those regimes worked and achieved the desired results? he asked.  Studies revealed that they had not.

He said that evidence showed, among other things, that there was a continued defiance by States in observing sanctions.  States also lacked the capacity to enforce sanctions.  Also, the economic and humanitarian costs often outweighed the designs of the sanctions regime.  For such punitive measures to be effective, it was important to set reliable and achievable benchmarks.  Sanctions could also not be imposed on a State in perpetuity.  They must be imposed incrementally, with a gradual increase in pressure.  They should also avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians.

He said that, in order to minimize damage to the innocent, sanctions must be targeted and crafted in ways to shield civilians from unnecessary harm.  Serious thought must be given to the proposals presented to the Council in the two reports from the Interlaken process.  Also, a committee entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of all Council resolutions would enhance the effectiveness of sanctions regimes.

ANDRÉS FRANCO (Colombia) said that the Bonn-Berlin process had prompted reflection on the core nature of sanctions.  If sanctions were not fair, properly motivated and meaningful, they would be ineffective.  If they were not effective, the image and legitimacy of the Council would be compromised.  The sanctions must work and produce the forecast results.  To help achieve that goal, the Council must communicate with other protagonists who were relevant to the implementation of the sanctions.  Financial organizations, academia and civil society all had a role in implementation.

He said the goal of sanctions was to change the conduct of those who threatened international peace and security.  The difficulties lay in effecting that change without affecting those who were not threatening international peace and security.  Civilians always experienced negatives effects.  There must be control over those effects and contingency measures used to compensate for them.  The forecast and unexpected impact of sanctions should be examined, before implementing them.

New technology, new ideas new political circumstances should lead to thinking in a dynamic way about sanctions, he said.  The Council should study whether it was necessary to adjust to specific circumstances when designing sanctions.  There must be a way to discuss the disadvantages and advantages inherent in setting up machinery for sanctions.

JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said there was agreement that sanctions must remain a viable policy option.  They were a vital policy instrument needed to modify the behaviour of a State or entity that posed a threat to international peace or that had committed an act of aggression.  “Sanctions provide us with an approach greater than persuasion, but less than the use of force, to employ the collective will of the international community to resolve conflict”, he said.   His country had participated in the Interlaken Bonn and Berlin discussions on sanctions and looked forward to the Stockholm process, when the Swedish Government would host the next round of meetings to discuss sanctions verification and implementation.

He said, while there were violations of sanctions, that did not mean that such measures were ineffective, as evidence showed.  The United States sought to ensure that sanctions imposed by the Council posed a minimum risk to civilians.  He could not help but underline that there was a great irony in the Council’s efforts to develop and impose effective sanctions.  “Despite our best attempts, what can the Council do when a dictatorial regime itself holds its own people hostage?” he asked.  “What are we to think when a State or government denies its own people food, medicine and shelter -– items the international community is willing to provide to those most challenged?”  Iraq and Afghanistan were examples of such situations.  Regarding the former, a new approach to sanctions had been endorsed last spring, but efforts to find a better way forward were blocked.

While the United States recognized the importance of minimizing the humanitarian impact of sanctions, members of the international community must also reflect on the humanitarian impact of not imposing sanctions.  Such a decision had consequences and was a heavy responsibility for Council members.  He said the United States would join with other interested parties in exploring how to make sanctions monitoring and implementation as effective as possible.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said he hoped the results of the Interlaken, Bonn and Berlin discussions would provide useful tools to help the Council determine the best way to impose sanctions under Chapter VII of the Charter.  While such measures were useful, sanctions, because of their negative and undesired effects, had become a source of concern to the international community.  Regimes must be functional and cause minimum hardship, with no secondary effects, he stressed. 

He said that sanctions, even if they were the best possible course, must not fly in the face of the Charter.  They must ensure that the most vulnerable sector of a targeted State’s population was not affected, and they must be lifted as soon as Council requirements were met.

He welcomed the new steps taken by the Council to impose sanctions for a limited timeframe, which were targeted at changing the conduct of individuals and groups.  Studies done on past sanctions imposed by the Council had demonstrated that, while they had not really achieved their goals, they had caused suffering to populations.

ALEXANDER KONOUZIN (Russian Federation) said the effectiveness of sanctions depended on the Council correctly assessing the degree of the threat posed to international peace and security.  The Council must assess the impact of sanctions on civilian populations, as well as the potential harm to third countries.  Sanctions were an extreme measure and could be applied only when all other methods were exhausted.  They must be introduced strictly in accordance with the Charter and the norms of international law.  Also, the Council must state clearly the conditions for lifting them.  It was impermissible to set forth measures without limits.

He said his Government would study carefully the handbooks and recommendations before the Council.  The reports would help in the work on the finer points of sanctions and in implementing sanctions at the national level.  The Stockholm process would deal with that aspect which fell within the competence of States.  States had an obligation to report on how they were implementing sanctions.

CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) expressed sympathy for the frustration that Sweden had experienced as chair of the Sierra Leone Sanctions Committee.  Singapore, now the Chairman of that Committee, was experiencing some of the same difficulties.  It had noted that some of the problems related to monitoring implementation could be dealt with by empowering the Committee to keep its lists up to date.  Currently, they did not have the resources to do that.

She said United Nations sanctions, which were designed and implemented properly, could do much good.  The fact that the image of sanctions was presently not positive could be due to their unintended side effects.  While the United Nations might have jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize, its image had eroded badly in the last several years.  The Council must ensure that the objectives of sanctions were achieved without the unintended humanitarian effects.  She hoped

the Stockholm process would result in a more effective implementation of sanctions.

OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said the gradual emergence of a debate on sanctions in the Council should be encouraged, so that “we can gradually arrive at a way of making sanctions sensible and measured”.  The Organization must now take a new look at the imposition of sanctions, which was a last resort, after all other methods had been exhausted.

He said sanctions had shown that they could have devastating consequences on civilian populations.  The United Nations must, therefore, take a different approach, if sanctions were to remain an integral part of an overall global conflict-prevention strategy.  What was needed was an overall view of the problems involved, and a remedy for solving them.  Sanctions also had to be governed by time limits.

He stressed the need for a regular review of the impact of sanctions and the inclusion of the necessary humanitarian exemptions within each regime.  The responsibility of applying sanctions was a collective one, to be shared by the entire international community.  The Council must, therefore, promote a new sanctions practice.  A working group had been set up to address the issue of sanctions, and the Council must now consider that body’s draft report, if it wanted to move forward.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the Interlaken and Bonn-Berlin processes were helpful to the Council’s discussion of sanctions.  He was pleased that Sweden would continue activities to find ways to improve sanctions.  Over the past

10 years, the Council had resorted more frequently to the use of sanctions.  That had aroused increasing concern over the negative effects of sanctions on civilian populations and third countries.  Sanctions were only a means, not and end in itself, he said.

The Council should consider and decide how to end sanctions once the goal was reached, he said.  There should be no more sanctions without time limits.  The Working Group report should be adopted and implemented without delay. 

Council President RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) recalled his undertaking at the beginning of Ireland’s presidency to explore the possibility of concluding the matter of the report of the Working Group on Sanctions and General Issues.  The Chairman’s proposed outcome was circulated among members in February of this year, but it had not been possible to agree on a final text.  It was important to achieve agreement on that text as soon as possible.  A small number of differences still existed and, while they related to issues of some sensitivity, they were not insurmountable.  Over the past two weeks, meetings had been held with all of the concerned parties on several occasions to obtain a clearer understanding of the outstanding points of contention and to attempt to identify means of overcoming the remaining obstacles.  Those discussions were ongoing.  He hoped to report back soon to the Council on those discussions.

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For information media. Not an official record.