SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS REPORTS ON MAKING SANCTIONS MORE EFFECTIVE, LESSENING HARM TO THE INNOCENT

22 October 2001
SC/7183

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS REPORTS ON MAKING SANCTIONS MORE EFFECTIVE, LESSENING HARM TO THE INNOCENT

22/10/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7183

Security Council

4394th Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS REPORTS ON MAKING SANCTIONS

MORE EFFECTIVE, LESSENING HARM TO THE INNOCENT

Better Monitoring of Implementation and Enforcement Called For

The Security Council heard briefings this afternoon on issues relating to sanctions.  The Observer for Switzerland, the Permanent Representative of Germany and Sweden's State Secretary for Foreign Affairs reported on processes and planned initiatives relating to targeted sanctions.

Reporting on a series of expert meetings organized by the Swiss Government and the United Nations, the Observer for Switzerland said that among the main results of the Interlaken Process were standardized language and definitions developed that would enhance a more uniform drafting and implementation of resolutions as well as unambiguous interpretation.  Other results included the identification of the basic legal and administrative requirements for national implementation of financial sanctions, including the development of elements for a national legal framework.

Germany's representative said sanctions should not hit the innocent civilian population or non-target nations but should focus on those responsible for the threat to international peace and security.  Sanctions should not be a punishment but, rather, should lead to compliance with the United Nations Charter.  He introduced a handbook containing model Security Council resolutions on arms embargoes and travel related sanctions, suggestions for national implementation and suggestions for monitoring and enforcement of arms embargoes.  Noting that not every sanctions regime had been successful, he said that if a tool proved to be ineffective it should be reconsidered and re-evaluated.

Hans Dahlgren, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said his Government was ready to continue the work done by Switzerland and Germany through the Stockholm Process, a project that would involve representatives of governments and non-governmental organizations, academics and United Nations actors.  Among other things, the project would focus on how the United Nations and Member States could ensure a truly effective monitoring of compliance and enforcement, and how best to assist Member States to implement sanctions regimes.

Also addressing the Council, Ibrahima Fall, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said a constructive dialogue on the implementation and monitoring of sanctions must take place and pragmatic solutions must be found to the difficulties of monitoring sanctions.  The Council could encourage compliance by devoting more attention to mitigating the effects on civilian populations and

third States.  It might also develop models of legislation that would enable Member States to adjust their domestic laws and regulations to permit compliance. What was needed most was better coordination between all parties involved.  He stressed that making sanctions smarter would not be enough.  The international community must provide the necessary means as well as the will for them to succeed.

The representatives of France and Ukraine also made statements.

Today's meeting began at 12:20 p.m. and was suspended at 1:15 p.m.  It will resume on a date to be announced.

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to hear briefings by representatives of Switzerland, Germany and Sweden on general issues relating to sanctions. 

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.

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, 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.  The Group is expected to submit its recommendations by early 2001.

      Statements

JENO STAEHELIN, Permanent Observer for Switzerland, said that his country, as a major financial centre, had significant expertise and know-how regarding financial transactions.  In cooperation with the United Nations, the Swiss Government had organized a series of international expert meetings in Interlaken and New York to examine the feasibility of targeted financial sanctions.

He said the key results of the Interlaken Process included a better understanding of the specific technical requirements of targeted financial sanctions and the preconditions necessary to make them effective.  In addition, language modules and definitions had been developed as building blocks for future Security Council resolutions.  Such standardized language would enhance a more uniform drafting and implementation of resolutions as well as unambiguous interpretation.

Among other results, he said, was the identification of the basic legal and administrative requirements for national implementation of financial sanctions, including the development of elements for a national legal framework.  Discussions had also addressed the need for the United Nations to develop greater capabilities in administering and monitoring financial sanctions, including the provision of guidance and technical assistance to help States implement sanctions consistently.

An essential precondition for making targeted financial sanctions more effective, he said, was the ability to clearly define the target, implying also the effective identification of the actual beneficiary of assets.  Strategic choices regarding the types and modalities of sanctions to be imposed depended on a thorough analysis of the vulnerabilities of the target country or actors, as well as the political will to enforce such measures and assess their effects.

Targeted financial sanctions alone were not sufficient to force governments or other actors to alter their behaviour and comply with their obligations, he noted.  But they represented an important tool that could be used in combination with other measures.  The Interlaken Process had shown that the conceptual, technical and practical elements to make targeted financial sanctions effective were available.  It was now primarily a matter of mustering the necessary political will to translate that into reality.

DIETER KASTRUP (Germany) said all shared the goal of wishing to minimize the unintended effects of sanctions on the civilian populations of the targeted country and on third countries.  The results of both the Interlaken and the Bonn processes were designed to help achieve those goals by introducing targeted or “smart” sanctions.  The Bonn Process focused on arms embargoes and travel bans.

Reviewing recent events, he said that in 1998 Germany had declared it was prepared to continue the process initiated by Switzerland.  Civil society was involved from the outset.  An independent organization, the Bonn International Center for Conversion, an organization with considerable expertise in the field of sanctions, was asked to organized a series of conferences, seminars and workshops on the issues of arms embargoes and travel bans.  The participants were diplomats and United Nations personnel, as well as experts from academia, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.  Arms embargoes and travel restrictions were identified because they helped focus the coercive element in any sanctions regime on those most responsible for a threat to peace and security.

He introduced a handbook containing the practical results of the Bonn Process, which set out model Security Council resolutions on arms embargoes and travel related sanctions.  It also discussed national implementation of those types of sanctions.  Also included was a report containing suggestions for monitoring and enforcement of arms embargoes.  He stressed that although the handbook should not be construed as representing the official view of the German Federal Government, his Government widely shared the outcome of the Process.  The document could be helpful in conceiving efficient sanctions regimes and in minimizing unintended negative impacts on civilian populations and third countries.

Sanctions were and would continue to be an important tool of the Council, he said.  They should not be a punishment but rather, should lead to compliance with the Charter.  Among Member States, there was consensus that sanctions should not hit the innocent civilian population or non-target nations but should focus on those responsible for the threat to international peace and security, who should be made aware that their behaviour would not be tolerated.  In the past, not every sanctions regime had been successful in that regard.  If a tool proved to be ineffective it should be reconsidered and re-evaluated to determine whether a change would serve better.

He emphasized that only targeted sanctions would achieve their goals.  However, even the most precise sanction resolutions would fail if some Member States lacked the political will to implement them.  It remained a question of commitment and willingness of every Member State to lead coercive measures to success, namely through compliance with the Charter.

HANS DAHLGREN, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, noted that there was a difference between the theory and practice of sanctions.  Security Council decisions, even with substantial economic impact on the target, had led to little or no change in behaviour.  In addition, all too many sanctions had been violated and circumvented.  There had also been numerous side-effects whereby vulnerable groups had been the hardest hit.

He said that the reports by the Observer for Switzerland and the representative of Germany were important contributions to the improvement of financial sanctions, travel restrictions and arms embargoes, both in theory and practical application.  Yet it had been learned through the activities in Interlaken, Bonn and Berlin that even more could be done to develop the concept and practice of “smart” sanctions.  Sweden was ready to continue the important work already done by Switzerland and Germany.

Through the Stockholm Process, he said, the Government of Sweden would invite a broad range of government representatives and non-governmental organizations, academics and United Nations actors to participate in that endeavour.  One particular focus would be on the implementation and monitoring of targeted sanctions and on suggested improvements, building on what had already been done in the processes so far.  That would include how to achieve more coherent and effective enactment of Security Council resolutions into national legislation.

He said it would also include how the United Nations and Member States could ensure a truly effective monitoring of compliance and enforcement, a field in which much was lacking.  The Stockholm Process would also look at how best to assist Member States to implement sanctions regimes, and what technical and financial support might be required.  Another theme would be more conceptual: if it was possible to find a clearer understanding within the international community of both the scope and limitations of sanctions, it might be easier also in practice to pursue a more effective sanctions policy.

IBRAHIMA FALL, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said mandatory sanction were today more than ever an important tool used by the Council in seeking to maintain or restore international peace and security.  However, there had been concerns expressed about the effects on civilian populations and neighboring and other affected States.  The Secretary-General had underlined the need for a mechanism that would render sanctions a less blunt and more effective tool.  Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and academic experts, with substantive support from the Secretariat, had been working towards achieving that goal.  Recent sanctions measures imposed by the Council had been targeted.  The monitoring mechanism concerning sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) was attempting to put some of the recommendations from Interlaken into practice by tracing the financial transactions of UNITA.  He hoped the knowledge gained at Interlaken could be successfully tapped and put to use within the context of the recently established Council committee on counter-terrorism.  Referring to earlier statements at the meeting, he said many of the suggestions had contributed to the improvement of sanctions resolutions.  Work on refining “smart” sanctions should continue.

If sanctions were to continue to be a useful tool in the maintenance of international peace and security, he said, a constructive dialogue on their implementation and monitoring must take place and pragmatic solutions must be found to the difficulties of monitoring sanctions.  Many Member States lacked the capacity to monitor their implementation and required assistance in the process.  Interested Member States could provide such assistance with a duly augmented sanctions secretariat, and it could also be offered by competent regional organizations.  The Council could encourage compliance by devoting more attention to mitigating the effects on civilian populations and third States.  The Council might also consider assisting Member States in developing greater legal authority and administrative capacity for implementing sanctions.  The Council could develop models of legislation that would enable Member States to adjust their domestic laws and regulations to permit compliance.

What was needed most, he said, was better coordination between all parties involved in the implementation of sanctions regimes.  The chairmen of the Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone Sanctions Committees were discussing ways of increasing cooperation with a view to holding a joint meeting.  The Council might also make more frequent use of humanitarian assessments before the imposition of sanctions as well as continuing to monitor the humanitarian impact once sanctions had been imposed.

He said targeted sanctions could have an important deterrence and preventative role and he urged Members to consider their use in the future.  Sanctions could also be seen as a calculated response by the international community to emerging breaches of international law.  He reiterated that enhanced substantive support to the various sanctions committees and a more effective administration of sanctions regimes would require the commitment of adequate resources.  Developing more effective sanctions would require more specialized expertise and enhanced analytic capacity.  Technical expertise was urgently needed in such areas as military technology, illegal arms traffic, illicit diamonds and international financing and asset management.  Making sanctions smarter would not be enough.  The international community must provide the necessary means as well as the will for them to succeed.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the Security Council must conclude its normative work on sanctions and adopt, as speedily as possible, the conclusions of its Working Group on Sanctions.  It was time to set up a unified permanent instrument for monitoring sanctions as well as the traffic of raw materials in armed conflict.

He said that two years of experience with ad hoc expert bodies on sanctions against UNITA, Sierra Leone and Liberia, or the exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had demonstrated a similarity in the kinds of problems from one region to the next.  Those responsible for violating sanctions were the same people and the consequences of their actions were also similar.

The membership of the various sanctions panels were also remarkably similar, he said.  The proposed mechanism would be available to both the Council and to its Sanctions Committee.  It was time to use the considerable amount of intersecting data compiled by the various panels and to end the duplication of panels with similar competencies.

He said the measures against UNITA had demonstrated the importance of maintaining continuity in monitoring sanctions, otherwise a disastrous political signal would be sent.  Establishing permanent and unified instruments would facilitate useful long-term working relations with international and regional organizations whose cooperation was indispensable in maintaining and monitoring effective sanctions.

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) expressed the hope that the Council would carefully consider the results of the Interlaken, Bonn and Berlin processes and apply them.  Its record had been regrettably lacking in that regard.

Referring to the Working Group on Sanctions, he said that whatever the individual and national attitudes towards its report, the outcome of its work could not be ignored.  It was impossible to reach full consensus on every issue and compromise must be worked out among the delegations.  It was high time the Council made a decision on the report.  While not every delegation could achieve everything it wanted, it would be inappropriate to throw away months of hard work.

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For information media. Not an official record.