17 April 2000


17 April 2000

Press Release



Concerned by Impact on Innocent Populations, Vulnerable Third Countries, Members Stress Sanctions’ Role as Behaviour-Changer, Not Primitive Tool

Acknowledging that the case for sanctions remained compelling, a number of speakers in the Security Council tonight called for their refinement and improvements in their effectiveness.

Speaking in a special debate on the subject, representatives welcomed the decision of Council members to establish guidelines for a working group to improve the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions. They urged that sanctions regimes should be clearly defined and focused, and carefully tailored to the particular situation in which they were to be applied. Some also urged the streamlining of procedures for approving humanitarian exemptions, and a study of the negative collateral effects of sanctions on third States before they were applied.

There was a need to improve the capacity of the United Nations to implement sanctions once they were imposed, some delegations said. While most delegations said that sanctions should be lifted once their objectives had been achieved, one representative said the termination of sanctions should be directly and transparently linked to confirmation of change in the affected State.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who presided over part of the meeting (Canada is President of the Council for April), said sanctions must be integrated into a broader Council strategy of conflict prevention and resolution. They should aim to change the behaviour of wrongdoers. Canada intended to convene a conference of experts to develop a regime to govern the use of sanctions, including standardized policy guidelines and operational principles.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, briefing the Council earlier on the subject, said the Security Council could facilitate the administration and implementation of sanctions regimes by developing greater clarity and uniformity of language and technical terminology in its resolutions. Council resolutions could specify criteria for lifting or suspending sanctions, he said.

Statements were made by the representatives of Bangladesh, United Kingdom, United States, France, Ukraine, Namibia, China, Malaysia, Argentina, Netherlands, Tunisia, Mali, Jamaica, Russian Federation, Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), Germany, Pakistan, Libya, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Cuba, Iraq, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. The observer of Switzerland also spoke.

The meeting, which was called to order at 3:14 p.m. was adjourned at 7:58 p.m.

Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6845 4128th Meeting (PM) 17 April 2000

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this afternoon in an open meeting to discuss general issues relating to sanctions.


KIERAN PRENDERGAST, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council. He said that in recent years sanctions had become a primary tool of peace enforcement. In a small number of cases, comprehensive sanctions had been put into effect. In others, sanctions have been focused on arms transfers, embargoes, travel bans or financial restrictions.

Difficulties in the implementation of sanctions regimes, however, have raised doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions. Apart from the fact that measures were not always applied with determination, sanctions often had impacts on civilians and third States, and those had made improved design essential. The Secretary-General had cooperated with Member States and others in efforts to make sanctions a less blunt and more effective instrument.

If properly targeted, sanctions could play a major role in inducing compliance with Council resolutions, he said. They could also be instruments of prevention, through limiting access to weapons and currency that furthered conflict. In 1996, the Secretariat had undertaken a review of lesson to be learned from existing sanctions regimes. This review noted the need to protect civilians from their effects, while sharpening their targeting to increase their impact. It also dealt with monitoring via cooperation, where appropriate, with subregional or regional organizations.

Moreover, he continued, the Secretariat must also have specialized expertise to manage such regimes, and the Council’s sanctions committees should have access to such expertise. Regarding minimizing the negatives, the Council might wish to consider including humanitarian exemptions in its resolutions. Periodic evaluations and examinations of the humanitarian impacts might also be useful. The issue of their impact on third States should be examined, in keeping with Article 50 of the United Nations Charter.

The Secretariat had supported efforts by Member States to create targeted or “smart” sanctions, he said, including those made by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union at their Copenhagen Round Table on the now terminated sanctions regime against the former Yugoslavia. A number of conclusions and recommendations could be drawn from the lessons learned by the Secretariat.

First, the Council could facilitate the administration and implementation of sanctions by improving the clarity and uniformity of language and technical terminology used in resolutions. Financial resolutions could use technical terms that applied in international financial sector. Greater specificity was equally important in arms embargoes, to prevent the use of loopholes. Such resolutions could specifically prohibit certain equipment, types of contracts or types of military assistance. A registry of dual-use equipment could also be developed.

Sanctions could be improved through the addition of specific criteria for their lifting or suspension, he said. By spelling out the steps for compliance, the prospects for inducing that compliance and encouraging negotiation would be improved. It would also be helpful if the Council ensured that whenever it approved sanctions it also made available the necessary resources for their management, because otherwise they were not implemented effectively. The resources should include those needed for investigations and for assessment missions and support monitoring efforts of regional and subregional organizations. Cooperative monitoring with regional organizations should be considered with even more bodies to improve effectiveness.

Developing more effective policies required specialized staff to support sanctions committees, he continued. Greater expertise and capacity would enable better managing of credible monitoring regimes. Special attention could then be given to better and more reliable data collection. Investigations of compliance would be aided by the establishment of permanent databases and registries of past violations.

National authorities bore responsibility for enforcing sanctions, he said, but they often sought and needed advise on them. With the necessary resources, competent regional organizations or the United Nations could provide that advice.

Mitigating negative effects could also encourage compliance, he said. Support and inducements for neighbouring States would greatly enhance their ability to implement regimes effectively. Support could also be provided to give them greater legal authority and better capacity to implement sanctions. Model language for domestic law and regulations had already been developed. The need for greater capacity within Member States was especially acute with regard to enforcement of arms embargoes. The Secretary-General's reports on Africa, and also the Council’s resolution 1196/1998, had urged States to enact legislation making violation of United Nations embargoes a criminal offence, he said, which would also be useful.

The Council was now inclined to work with smart sanctions, he noted. The need to minimize problems for third States was also acknowledged. The United Nations system should develop coordinated and integrated approaches designed to avoid humanitarian consequences. Teams should be authorized to assess sanctions possibilities and their likely consequences prior to implementation. Resolutions should also be able to mitigate effects on third party States.

The administration and effective implementation of sanctions require adequate resources, and these should be weighed against the costs of military force or of doing nothing, he said. Sanctions could be effective, but only if Member States shouldered additional responsibilities. The Secretary-General had appealed, in his report for the Millennium Summit, for a search for ways to ensure that economic sanctions had less harsh impacts on the innocent and were more effective on penalizing delinquent rulers, he concluded.

F.A.SHAMIM AHMED (Bangladesh) said the sanctions should remain the last option for ensuring compliance with Security Council decisions for maintenance of international peace and security. There was, however, a general feeling of unhappiness about the way it was being applied now. The Council’s credibility was in question, if it did not do sanctions right. If they had little effect, or worse, if they continued to have wrong and unintended effects on the innocent, that was a strong case for refinement of sanctions. He welcomed the initiative to constitute a working group on reviewing sanctions issues. He supported the issues that should be taken up by the working group, as listed in the draft terms of reference.

The issues of concern fell into several categories. First, how to design a sanctions regime that would be effective, but would have minimal or no unintended effects. Comprehensive sanctions tended to have more unintended effects. Targeting was essential. The working group should look into the details of how that general understanding could be translated into individual cases. More ways must be found to ensure and encourage targeted States and non-State actors to comply. The question of humanitarian exemptions should be examined in a much more detailed manner than it had been done so far.

Further, he continued, how could the institutional capacity to better understand what worked and what did not be strengthened? The capacity of the Secretariat needed to be strengthened and better coordinated. Assessment of the effects and the effectiveness of sanctions on a regular basis was a must. The sanctions committees needed to be energized, with the means to effectively monitor implementation and address alleged violations. Also, the whole question of assessed or voluntary contributions should be addressed.

United Nations Members must be provided with technical knowledge for updating national legislation and enhancing institutional mechanisms for monitoring and enforcement, he added. In particular, that was needed to prevent illicit arms trafficking, impose travel bans and identify violations of financial sanctions. Cooperation among the United Nations, other regional organizations and non-governmental organizations would be useful, he said.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the case for the use of sanctions remained compelling. Apart from the threat of or use of force, in their full range, from travel bans to comprehensive economic embargoes, they were the only coercive measure available to the international community to respond to threats to international peace and security. Sanctions were needed to bring into line those States and regimes that breached the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, defied the international community and ignored diplomatic efforts.

It was, therefore, essential for the Council to take the initiative to refine that powerful instrument and improve its effectiveness. He welcomed the decision of its members to establish a working group to improve the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions. Their mandate was a challenging one. The working group should take into account the conclusions and recommendations of the series of seminars. The United Kingdom would not only play a constructive role in the group. It would also be prepared to, if its Council colleagues approached the task in the same spirit, acknowledge where the Council had underperformed in the past and where sanctions had failed to produce the right results.

There had been an important opportunity to upgrade United Nations effectiveness in the maintenance of peace and security, to deter more powerfully those who were tempted to use force illegitimately to secure their political objectives, and to alleviate the damaging side effects amongst the innocent and vulnerable.

He said sanctions regimes adopted by the Council should ideally present clearly defined and realistic objectives and a clear exit strategy; and ensure consistent application by describing clearly prescribed scope in terms of goods and services sanctioned. It should devise a workable mechanism to achieve the objective; provide for regular review of implementation; and provide scope for flexibility and graduation up and down the scale in response to the target’s reactions. Furthermore, sanctions regimes should set out effective arrangements for enforcement by all States, but especially neighbours, and to take into account the resources and the national legislative action required.

He also said sanctions regimes should devise, from the beginning, ways of protecting the innocent from unintended consequences, while maintaining the intended impact of the sanctions themselves.

Noting that there had been much discussions of smart sanctions, he hoped that modern technology would be able to help the Council in the financial arena. The role of the sanctions committees, as had been seen, he said, was the key. Their chairmen had a particular responsibility, but all Council members must be prepared to offer support. Experienced and energetic help from the Secretariat was needed. The General Assembly must be prepared to authorize the resources necessary for a properly equipped and staffed sanctions unit, headed by a senior officer. The system must be capable enough to tap into national facilities for information and investigation, he said.

He said the aim, in the end, should be an effective international effort on sanctions busting, including illegal arms flows, as in the case on drugs, terrorism and money laundering. The United Kingdom believed that if investment was made in such an international capability on sanctions, and if Member States as a whole carried out their obligations in support, the United Nations Charter would be widely respected in practice and conflicts would occur less frequently.

JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the Council should recognize without apology that sanctions were coercive measures and represented an important alternative to even more coercive instruments, including military force. Unfortunately, some States or elements within States engaged in activities that must be countered -- promptly and aggressively -- to protect those who were threatened or unable to protect themselves. Sanctions were a means of expressing the will of the international community to end unacceptable behaviour. To be effective, they must be credible, targeted and enforceable. Sanctions imposed symbolically were unlikely to change behaviour and might undermine the overall viability of sanctions as an alternative to military force.

To be effective, he said, sanctions regimes must be carefully tailored to the particular situation in which they are to be applied. While no single template would fit all, or even most situations, a number of principles were relevant to any potential application of sanctions. First, the design and implementation of effective sanctions should consider the minimization, management and mitigation of unintended impacts, especially on vulnerable sectors of the population -- while acknowledging that they could not be eliminated entirely. Next, there was a need to improve the capacity of the United Nations, especially the Council and its member States, to implement sanctions regimes once they were imposed. The commitment of national authorities to sanctions enforcement was critical. Actions by those authorities to address activities by criminal elements within their borders were equally important and the United States looked forward to working with them.

Lastly, he said, sanctions regimes must clearly enunciate the standards by which alterations to unacceptable behaviour would be measured. The termination of sanctions should be directly and transparently linked to confirmation of the changed behaviour. In some cases, it might be appropriate to link suspension or relaxation of elements of the sanctions regime to progress towards changed behaviour. In all cases, however, once sanctions had been imposed it was essential to place the burden of proof regarding their suspension or termination on the demonstrated behaviour of the sanctioned entity. The United States supported the efforts of the Council's sanctions working group, the Secretary- General and others in an effort to analyse options, develop guiding principles and monitor and adjust ongoing sanctions efforts. It was also firmly committed to ensuring that the Council retains its ability to act swiftly and with determination to counter current and future threats.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said that the Council had imposed 12 sets of sanctions in the 1990s, but had only imposed them twice before then. Thus, the time was right for policies to be assessed and guidelines established. Sanctions were a legitimate tool, an intermediate measure between condemnation and force. The Council’s capacity to employ them must be maintained. When used well, they had proven an effective tool for achieving the Council’s aims, for example in South Africa and Libya. They had also had an impact in Iraq and against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in Angola. However, they had also failed many times. In particular, there were some instances where the human costs outweighed the benefits. Such sanctions were cruel to people and had little effect on their leaders, often running counter to the goals for which they were established by allowing leaders to tighten their grip on increasingly isolated societies.

Sanctions hurt regimes' supporters and opponents indiscriminately, he said. They also had an effect on neighbouring States. The economic impact on third countries was often not sufficiently taken into account. "Too much embargo will kill the embargo". Responsibility for their effectiveness also lay with the institutional arrangements that accompanied them, and the Council must see how it could do better in this area. The Secretariat must have the expertise to provide, in particular, support and information on the arms trade and on financial sanctions. This would require increased resources. The Secretariat should be able to assess the impact of sanctions and their humanitarian aspects. It was not normal that the Council should have only scant information on Iraq after 10 years of sanctions against that State.

The Council’s handling of sanctions must be improved, he said. The rules of consensus that applied in its sanctions committees were paralysing; simple majorities could suffice for decision-making, at least on non-essential issues. Similarly, sanctions committees were not transparent, yet they should be both transparent and accessible to outside speakers and advice. France believed in the relevance of sanctions as a tool, so it wanted to avoid the loss of their credibility. Sanctions were not an instrument to be used lightly, but must be reserved for exceptional cases, and used only after other attempts to modify behaviour had failed. Their impact, on civilians especially, should be systematically evaluated, as had been frequently recommended but never implemented.

Article 41 of the Charter applied only to maintaining or restoring international peace and security, he stressed. He was not, therefore, in favour of sanctions against those who broke sanctions. Council rulings were mandatory, but other, more effective, means to enforce its decisions must be found. He wished to avoid increasing the current use of sanctions, given the existing difficulties in applying those in force.

Sanctions must not be disproportionate responses, he said, and must be progressively adjusted as political situations changed. The logic behind them did not support their use as punitive measures, but rather as incentives. Clear criteria for their lifting or alleviation must be defined prior to their implementation. Council mmbers must not give the impression that they will remain in force whatever the circumstances. While Iraq had certainly complied with some of its responsibilities, reducing sanctions against that country had never been seriously addressed.

The Council must also address the duration of sanctions, he said. Some still officially in force were no longer applied, and no one reacted to this, while others were still applied although the situation which brought them into being had been resolved. They should be established for a set duration, with scope for the Council to extend them if required. They should be intelligent and better targeted. Most now were intelligent, but unintelligent sanctions regimes still existed. He hoped that the Council’s informal working group on the issue would review regimes currently in operation.

VOLODYMYR Y. YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said that recent studies showed that a majority of sanctions regimes that had been applied had low or zero political effectiveness. Now was indeed the time to address specific issues of management, and establish general approaches for future decisions on sanctions.

The imposition of sanctions should follow, but not precede, the use of other peaceful mechanisms, he said. Whatever their limitations, they must, and would, remain an important policy tool. However, they must be acknowledged as extreme measures. He hoped that further deliberations would contribute to their more effective use.

Sanctions regimes must be implemented, he said, if the authority of the Council was to be upheld. More than a year ago, the Council endorsed recommendations on the operation of its sanctions committees, but not all had been properly implemented. Much work on sanctions had been done outside the United Nations, and various studies looked at their planning, implementation and management. Such work must also be done in the Security Council.

Unless the Council had an ongoing forum on examining sanctions, its efforts would be fragmented and inconsistent. This understanding was behind the proposal that Ukraine had previously made for a standing Security Council sanctions committee. Such a committee would be an appropriate body to deal with general aspects of sanctions. He recognized that this proposal had practical implications which must be carefully considered, but he hoped it would remain “on the table”.

It was also important that there be more substantive expertise on sanctions-related issues in the Secretariat, he said. Sanctions had economic, political, military and humanitarian aspects, and the Secretariat should be able to provide expertise in all these areas as well as synthesize across them. Stronger coordination was needed within the Secretariat, and staff could be redeployed to the Security Council secretariat, or new posts could be created. Ukraine hoped that practical results would follow the establishment of the Council’s informal working group on sanctions, which it supported.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that as time and situations changed, so too should the methods of the Council. Without a continuous and attentive evaluation process, the Council would be found unprepared and unable to effectively fulfil its mandate in terms of the Charter. Although sanctions remained one of the most important tools available to the Council, the range of sanctions regimes in place today had had mixed effects so far. Referring to the demand for strict compliance by all Sates, he said it became a moral dilemma to continue to enforce sanctions when the unintended adverse humanitarian impact and the damage and losses to third parties began to outweigh the political goals to be achieved.

The design of sanctions regimes should rest on a clear policy framework and must contain definite and precise conditions for the maintaining or lifting of sanctions, he continued. He supported the establishment of a Council working group to develop recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions. In that regard, the staff capacity of the United Nations Secretariat, in providing invaluable support to the sanctions committees, needed to be dramatically strengthened. Another area was the ability to financially and logistically support visits by chairs of sanctions committees to visit affected regions. Those visits had proved to be crucial in efforts to enhance the effectiveness of sanctions, he said, citing as a prime example the visits by Robert Fowler (Canada) to southern Africa and Europe concerning sanctions on Angola.

A method to determine the potential humanitarian impact should be developed, as should practical measures to address consequences to third party States, he said. Furthermore, there should be humanitarian exemptions that would include for children, mothers, religious considerations and other vulnerable groups. Speaking specifically about the Angola sanctions, he said that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) had deceived the Council many times through lying and false undertakings and had, thus, effectively persuaded the Council not to implement wider sanctions earlier. A better monitoring and enforcement regime could have prevented that. Furthermore, a better and more reliable data collection system, earlier in the process, on the huge influence of diamonds in the continuation of the war, could have helped the process. Assistance to Member States in the implementation of sanctions would also greatly contribute to their effectiveness.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said that while some of the sanctions in recent years, which had targeted more than 10 countries or entities, had managed to have certain effects, the majority had fallen short of the expected results. In some cases, there had been severe consequences. He, therefore, supported the establishment of an informal working group to review sanctions and conduct a study on ways to improve them. The in-depth study should focus on two main priorities. First, the practical effectiveness of sanctions must be enhanced. Prior to adoption, all aspects of the sanctions, in particular effective monitoring, should be taken into full consideration. Developments and problems concerning the sanctions should be tracked closely and measures should be taken in a timely manner to help Member States strengthen their implementation capability and to deepen cooperation and coordination.

Second, concrete measures to address the humanitarian consequences of sanctions should be developed, he continued. The working group should devise specific and feasible solutions in such areas as humanitarian exemptions, pre-analysis, post-evaluation and adjustment, where necessary, as well as criteria for the suspension or lifting of sanctions. The Council could not ignore the severe humanitarian problems brought about by sanctions, which was why his Government had consistently maintained that sanctions should not be made an easy recourse. Sanctions against a sovereign State, in the absence of authorization by the Council, were far from appropriate.

It took time to address the drawbacks of sanctions, he said. Unfortunately, measures proposed last year for improving work in the field of sanctions had not been fully put into place. The working group should pay serious attention to enhancing the efficiency of the sanctions committees, including how to optimize their working procedures. Furthermore, it should seriously consider the valuable suggestions and proposals by many agencies and scholars, with a view to pooling wisdom and resources.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the challenge before the Council was to design sanctions regimes that worked effectively with minimal unintended collateral impacts and with the unqualified support of the international community. His country was, as a matter of principle, against the imposition of sanctions on any country unless the Security Council had determined that the State or country concerned was indeed a threat to peace or was guilty of aggression. Sanctions should be resorted to only when all other peaceful measures had been used and failed. Sanctions should be applied with great caution, because of their unintended grave consequences to the innocent population of the targeted country. There should be a pre-assessment report on the likely impact of the planned, targeted measures. When sanctions were finally imposed, they should be periodically reviewed and an early comprehensive assessment made of their impact.

He said that, in most instances, it had not been easy to effectively implement a sanctions regime, except when it served the particular interests of one or more of the permanent members of the Council, such as the sanctions on Libya and Iraq. Serious consideration should be given to exemptions on humanitarian grounds. If sanctions were to secure the strong support of the international community, it was imperative that sanctions be lifted when they had served their purpose. As in the case of comprehensive sanctions, he said there should be careful and exhaustive analyses of the likely impact of targeted sanctions. Among the pertinent questions that should be considered were the extent and location of the assets of the targeted elites, the kinds of sanctions likely to have the greatest impact, as well as positive elements that could be built into the sanctions regime to motivate compliance. Conditions for the lifting of the sanctions, at the appropriate time, should be also be incorporated into the sanctions regimes, he said.

His Government did not support the imposition of sanctions beyond a time frame that was necessary or feasible. Sanctions had had the unintended effect of entrenching or even strengthening the very targets they were intended to coerce. In the end, it was the innocent, ordinary people who bore the price, not the intended target or targets. For that reason, the impact must be subject to an ongoing assessment and they should be modified, if deemed necessary, or even lifted if they proved to be ineffective. If sanctions were meant to be an alternative to military action, their implementation should take cognizance of and respect the basic principles of international humanitarian law. In its implementation of sanctions regimes, he said, the Council must demonstrate that every effort was made to avoid violation of the basic rights of the general population.

He said a more effective strategy for the use of sanctions should be based on an understanding of why sanctions succeeded or failed. The institutional capacity of the United Nations must be enhanced, including the mechanisms for monitoring and impact assessment, as well as in respect of technical assistance and specialized expertise, which should be made available to the respective sanctions committees. Greater uniformity and consistency were needed. Sanctions often imposed extremely high economic costs on the major economic partners of targeted States. Assistance to disadvantaged States had been ad hoc and inadequate. Prolonged trade sanctions caused social costs which were hard to measure, but also hard to reverse. Furthermore, for the sanctions regimes to be effective, there were significant management and enforcement costs involved.

In examining the question of a more effective and humane United Nations sanctions, he said those imposed on Iraq should be considered. The prolonged economic strangulation of that country, combined with the destruction resulting from the 1991 war, had created one of the worst humanitarian crises of the past decade, he said. The devastating effects of the sanctions testified to the failure of comprehensive sanctions as a policy tool. It was time for the Council to review the issue, beginning with an immediate impact assessment of the sanctions.

ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said the Council was adopting guidelines for a group that would examine sanctions. From the theoretical standpoint, sanctions were a mechanism that could express the international community’s determination, short of the use of force. In recent years, the Council had used them with greater frequency and in a growing number of cases. Scant experience had led to unintended consequences. Lessons learned could be useful in the area of sanctions, as they were in peacekeeping. The experience now existed for the Council to examine previous sanctions regimes and learn from them. Thus, Argentina approved of the terms of reference that would guide the working group.

As he would be participating in the working group, he would mention only a few aspects of concern, he said. In order to ensure that their use was not seen as a half measure, the design of sanctions must be a priority. Greater care in design was essential to maximize support from the international community. Design included an unlimited number of elements, but prima facie it should be determined whether they were the appropriate mechanism for any given case. Thus pre-assessment was necessary, and ongoing assessments were also needed to see if intended effects were being achieved.

The purpose of Article 41 of the Charter was to modify the behaviour of States, he said. It was not punitive in intent, and it must not be interpreted as such. Argentina supported the establishment of objective criteria for the lifting of sanctions, as an integral part of the resolution that established them. This would ensure a better level of effectiveness. Implementation was also related to the language of a text, and drafting measures should aim to use unequivocal terms. Absence of effective monitoring could lead to ineffective regimes, for example those against UNITA in Angola. Greater dissemination of information on the particular regime could also lead to improved effectiveness. Targeted sanctions should be used to minimize unintended effects, but to do this a greater level of commitment from the international community and more effective monitoring were essential.

The planning, application and monitoring of sanctions would require the allocation of sufficient resources, including human resources in the form of specialists within the Secretariat, he said. The cost of those resources would be low when compared to other options. Greater observance of sanctions regimes would follow, if those changes were made, but sanctions would be ineffective if they were excessive, unjust, or punitive, or if non-compliance was without consequences.

JOOP W. SCHEFFERS (Netherlands) said that sanctions under the Charter were an indispensable tool of international diplomacy. If they were to be effective they must be swiftly applied, and applied with resolve. They could not be an effective instrument if used in isolation. Their aim must be to change behaviour, and they must serve the goals for which they were established.

Sanctions were coercive, he said, and they had an inescapably wide range of consequences. They were only one step short of military intervention. Each sanctions regime should be tailored to the specific situation it was to address. Sanctions were not punitive as such, but aimed to pressure those in power. Once in place, the humanitarian impact must be monitored closely. Procedures for adjusting sanctions regimes must also be in place. Comprehensive sanctions were what most often came to mind when considering sanctions, but there were more diverse options, he said. All but one of the present regimes were targeted, and did not harm the general public as such. Indeed, the Libyan sanctions regime had achieved the desired result.

Absence of enforcement would undermine both the Security Council and the use of sanctions as an instrument of international diplomacy, he said. Sanctions committees must play a key role in implementing their sanctions. The Angolan sanctions committee was well on the way to achieving this. The Council should consider improvements, especially to enforcement. It should also seek better communications on regimes, and greater support for them from Member States. A feasibility study should be undertaken to see how the Secretariat could play a more effective role in the establishment and monitoring of sanctions.

The Netherlands was grateful to States and others that had contributed to the development of smarter sanctions. There was now enough food for further thought at the Council’s disposal.

SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said it was time to take stock of sanctions. They must be adapted and the Council must obtain a real awareness of their effects on populations of the targeted and neighbouring States. Such a review was also important to determine the effectiveness of sanctions themselves. The Iraqi sanctions regime was a situation that could not go on for much longer. He welcomed the initiative taken by the Council for an in-depth discussion of sanctions in a working group.

He proposed that a number of guidelines be followed, including keeping the recourse to sanctions as a final step, after all other means had been exhausted. There should be provision for the gradual lifting of sanctions. Sanctions should be combined with other measures to attain a specified goal. The impact of such other measures should be evaluated before sanctions were imposed. A review of the sanctions should be carried out to determine their effects. Exemptions were necessary, for religious and other reasons, and the effects on third States should be examined. Compensations should be considered. The idea of establishing a compensation fund had already been considered in the General Assembly. The institutionalization of compensation was necessary, he said.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said the considerable experience gained over the past years could help the Council in the implementation of sanctions. Developing sanctions as tools for building peace and international security was of vital importance. Sanctions should never be imposed in the pursuit of individual objectives. The international community must learn from past decades of sanctions regimes imposed, while the Council must consider the long-term effects of the negative impact of sanctions. Sanctions could inflict unintended suffering on vulnerable persons in the targeted countries. Greater use should be made of intelligently targeted sanctions, and his country welcomed the establishment of the working group.

The time frame for sanctions should also be carefully considered, he said, noting that sanctions affected vulnerable and neighbouring States. Measures should be put in place to minimize the suffering of the vulnerable sections of the population of intended target States. There must be ongoing monitoring of the humanitarian effects of sanctions on the innocent, including children, with humanitarian agencies closely involved in the process. Mali welcomed the ideas put forward by the Secretary-General on the subject.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that sanctions had provided a viable alternative to force. However, if they were to continue to be credible, steps must be taken to get them right. To be effective, they required the support of all Member States. She supported efforts taken thus far by States and others, and supported the establishment of guidelines for the working group. The humanitarian impact must be examined in establishing sanctions regimes. Sanctions must not be a blunt instrument; they must be targeted at the leadership, and aimed so that they would not affect vulnerable groups. They must always take into account human rights standards and conventions. Appropriate humanitarian assistance must be applied in conjunction with them.

Every effort to reduce the impact on neighbouring States and trading partners must be taken, she said. In order to ensure that non-targeted States were not affected, assessment of the impact on them must be undertaken, and their specific needs and problems must be examined with a view to adjusting the sanctions regime where required. Critical to designing regimes was the need for greater clarity in Council resolutions, thus eliminating doubt as to respective responsibilities. She also believed there was a need for clear criteria in resolutions for the lifting of sanctions. This was in keeping with previous Council decisions, which stated that sanctions should allow some incentives for partial compliance.

Clear objectives, provision for regular reviews, and precise conditions and time frames for their removal must form part of the design of sanctions, she said. The Council must also enhance capacities to enforce and monitor them. The provision of guidelines and possible technical and financial assistance to Member States in compliance would improve the process. Practical strategies to assist governments in improving their capability to comply would also be useful.

Arms embargoes were the most common measures used by the Council in support of international peace and security, she said. The Secretary-General’s 1998 report on conflict in Africa had asked for the criminalization of embargo violation, and this would be a good tool -- but the question of harmonization of penalties must also be examined by the Council's informal working group. Sources of finance for the arms trade must be held to account, along with traffickers in arms.

Too often, resolutions on arms embargoes lacked clarity and did not effectively specify the weapons and military services that were to be prohibited, she said. This must be corrected. The capacity of the United Nations must also be enhanced, notably through ensuring that sanctions committees were provided with the necessary tools to perform their work.

Sanctions would only be effective if there was effective political will. They had been described, in some instances, as the minimal consensus that could be achieved in the Council on action, and had, on occasion, been established with no hope of the relevant sanctions committee ensuring compliance. Improving their effectiveness also required improved mechanisms within the United Nations system. It was important that the new working group devised methods for the Council to work with the Assembly, to ensure that the necessary budget support for the implementation of sanctions was provided.

GENNADI M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that in recent time interest in the subject of sanctions had grown. Various bodies had been actively considering the question of implementation and had proposed new sanctions mechanisms. Sanctions remained a powerful tool for the preservation of international peace and security, but they required careful handling and must be employed legally. They were a final step when other peaceful means had been exhausted.

Under the Charter, they could only be instituted when the Council determined there had been an act of aggression or a breach of the peace, he said. They must be regularly reviewed, and the criteria both for reviewing them and suspending them must be established. Likely consequences for third countries must be considered and averted, and protection must also be provided for the vulnerable within the targeted State.

Sanctions should form part of a search for a long-term strategy, he said, and it was inadmissible to use them to promote the overthrow of a political regime. The intent must not be to punish a State but to compel it to change its conduct. Application founded in reality required that the link between sanctions and human rights be acknowledged. They must be adjusted when the humanitarian situation in the targeted regime warranted change.

Unfortunately, biased approaches prevailed when the Council discussed imposing or lifting sanctions, by States that chose to employ the broadest interpretation of Council decisions. In some cases the lifting of sanctions had been delayed, and new criteria -- in the guise of “trial periods" or calls for complex monitoring demands or accountability mechanisms -- were introduced. This was tantamount to wielding double standards, and, apart from its impact on innocent civilians, it damaged the authority of the United Nations.

The Council's informal working group should carry out an unbiased evaluation of current experience and seek to enhance sanctions, while eliminating the many shortcomings of the host of current regimes. It must also take into account work being done in this area by the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies. The Russian Federation had introduced a document previously, proposing a set of key criteria for establishing and maintaining sanctions, which the group would find useful.

The Council President, LLOYD AXWORTHY, Foreign Minister of Canada, speaking in his national capacity, said that sanctions were a means to promote peace, stop violence and protect human rights. Thus, they were a vital tool for the Security Council. But, after a decade of unprecedented recourse to them their record was decidedly mixed, with successes and shortcomings. They had too often been an inappropriate default to crises in the absence of political will for stronger measures. They had suffered from hasty or ambiguous design, loose implementation and inadequate monitoring and enforcement. Most importantly, their cost in human terms had been too high, causing unintended but real harm to innocent civilians.

There was a real risk that their legitimacy and credibility would be increasingly questioned by the international community, he said. That would be wrong. The challenge of maximizing their effectiveness while minimizing their harm to civilians had to be addressed. Sanctions had worked where the will and resources existed to make them work. That depended also on applying the correct form of sanctions with appropriate inducements for compliance.

There were five considerations in getting sanctions right, he said. First, they must be integrated into a broader Council strategy of conflict prevention and resolution. The terms must be clear and linked to a process of negotiation. Second, their aim should be to change the behaviour of wrongdoers, to deprive them of the wherewithal to wage war and brutalize the innocent and to avoid harming the very people they aimed to help. That meant not only more targeted sanctions, but also improving the use of smarter sanctions. Further, targeted sanctions should be combined creatively with targeted incentives.

Third, he continued, if sanctions depended on the will of the international community to implement them, then they must reflect the will of the international community, not just the interests of its more powerful members. To that end, when sanctions were imposed, a more equitable sharing of the burdens of implementation and enforcement was important. Fourth, the efficacy of sanctions regimes was by the capacity to implement them. The ability of the Secretariat to properly and fully assist the Council in the implementation of sanctions needed to be significantly upgraded. Also, sanctions committees needed resources to function efficiently.

Last, sanctions had little or only controversial standing in international law -- falling into a grey zone between humanitarian law and the rules of warfare, he said. Many of the dilemmas associated with the use of sanctions could be addressed through the codification of legal standards. In other areas of global activity, legal regimes served to establish norms, and by reflecting international consensus, increased the prospects of everyone adhering to them. To that end, Canada would convene a conference of experts to develop such a regime to govern the use of sanctions, including standardized policy guidelines and operational principles.

ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that it was important to develop a more targeted and effective sanctions regime with clear humanitarian exceptions and effective monitoring systems. In that regard, the Union stressed that every effort be taken to ensure that measures adopted by the Security Council were carefully designed to have maximum impact on the political elites of targeted countries and/or their military capabilities, while minimizing the impact on general populations -- particularly the most vulnerable members -- and other unintended side effects.

Since there was general consensus on the efficacy of "smart sanctions", and that every effort should be made to provide humanitarian exemptions when designing sanctions regimes, it was also felt that their impact and effectiveness should be periodically assessed by the Council and its sanctions committees, he continued. With the help of the Secretariat, he said, the sanctions committees should take an active part in the process by not only monitoring the performance of the sanctions regimes, but also by reporting regularly to the Council for its consideration and decision. In order to perform that tas, however, the Secretariat must be given adequate resources and expertise, an idea long-supported by the European Union. Another way to enhance efficient preparation of the assessments might be to entrust working groups with the specific responsibility of assessing the impact of sanctions.

He went on to say that effective monitoring of sanctions -- by the sanctions committees in cooperation with Member States, regional organizations and other relevant entities -- was crucial in order to prevent violations and ensure the negative impacts on general populations was kept to a minimum. Better information on sanctions regimes must be ensured and a more unified and precise terminology should be used in sanctions resolutions to enhance harmonized national implementation. It was also crucial that the United Nations provide neighbouring countries of sanctions targets with technical assistance, as those countries played an important role in implementing sanctions and preventing or punishing violations.

The Union and its member States were committed to fully and effectively implement all mandatory United Nations sanctions regimes in accordance with their obligations, he said. To that end, coordination had been regularly undertaken by the Union's member States and the Commission in order to reach, when appropriate, an adequate and uniform implementation regime. The Union also looked forward to actively participating in further efforts to develop clear and effective sanctions that would reach their intended goals quickly and successfully.

DIETER KASTRUP (Germany) said that as Member States, academia, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations had begun to take greater interest in the concept and efficacy of sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council, there was general agreement that better targeting would increase their effectiveness while minimizing the negative impacts that civilian populations had experienced in the past as a result of comprehensive sanction regimes. The Secretary-General had also expressed concern about the negative impact of sanctions on civilian populations and had encouraged the Council, the General Assembly and Member States to consider possible ways to render sanctions “a less blunt and more effective instrument”. In that regard, the Secretary- General had welcomed the concept of "smart sanctions" that sought to exert pressure on regimes rather than on people.

Encouraged by the Secretary-General's remarks, the German Government, he said, was ready to assist in exploring ways to make arms embargoes and travel sanctions "smarter" by targeting them. In 1999, the German Foreign Office had asked the Bonn International Centre for Conversion to organize a consultation process that included expert seminars as well as a series of workshops. The first seminar, held in November of that year, included participants from Member States, regional and non-governmental organizations, as well as scholars, experts from the private sector and the United Nations Secretariat. That seminar provided an excellent opportunity to review the current successes and shortcomings of arms embargoes and travel sanctions.

This year, he said, four working groups would develop concrete recommendations to improve implementing and monitoring sanctions. It was foreseen that the working groups would present their findings at a second seminar to be held in Berlin later this year. "Hopefully", he said, "the findings will help provide the Security Council with an improved set of tools, if and when there is the necessity to impose sanctions under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter in the future."

Germany, he continued, was strongly committed to the process of targeting sanctions in order to minimize their impact on civilian populations and third world countries. When that goal was achieved, sanctions would find a wider acceptance among Member States. It was hoped that the German Government's initiative, combined with efforts such as the "Interlaken Process" on targeting financial sanctions, would be a valuable contribution towards improving sanctions. It should be recognized, however, that sanctions were not an end in themselves, but elements of a comprehensive political strategy designed to achieve peaceful resolution of conflicts.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said his country had consistently supported international efforts towards peaceful resolution of conflicts. It believed constructive engagement was a better proposition than punitive measures against any country. Imposition of sanctions should only be considered as the last option and after all diplomatic efforts had failed to rectify a given situation. A careful review must be undertaken of sanctions as an instrument to further international peace and security. Decisions to impose them must be taken on the basis of an objective assessment. Before their implementation, their negative consequences on the people of the target country must be determined. The concept of smart sanctions had not yet proven to be smart enough to spare the common people of the target country.

The impact of sanctions on third countries should be thoroughly reviewed. Sanctions had been particularly harmful to developing countries, including his own. Practical steps must be considered to assess the damage caused by sanctions and ways and means evolved to compensate for the losses incurred by third States. The findings of the expert group set up by the Secretary-General on the subject in 1998 should also be considered. The group made useful recommendations, including the need for timely assessment of the adverse effects of sanctions, clear warning before imposition of sanctions and a provision for regular review. It also recommended the establishment of conditions for lifting sanctions, ways and means of improving the sanctions regime, and establishment of effective monitoring systems. The Security Council must also consider those recommendations, he said.

ISA AYAD BABAA (Libya) said the Security Council had ignored threats to international peace and security as well as aggression perpetrated by a number of States, acting in pursuit of their own objectives. The complaints of States seeking to impose sanctions should be considered in a transparent manner. The State which is the object of the complaint must be invited to express its position. The Security Council must lift the sanctions if the evidence ran counter to international law.

He said the target country must have the right of recourse to the International Court of Justice, and the decision of the Court should be respected. The Security Council should be able to act collectively, without being influenced by one State. Compensation should be paid by the State which brought a complaint later found to be baseless. He added that the Security Council must avoid double standards.

He also said that the sanctions imposed against his country were not justified. They had cost Libya an estimated $35 billion. Yet the issue over which sanctions were imposed against his country had been resolved through negotiations undertaken by the Secretary-General. He, therefore, called upon the Council to immediately lift the sanctions against his country. The Security Council should pursue peaceful means to resolve disputes, he said.

SERGIO VENTO (Italy) said that the Secretary-General had said targets of sanctions should not be civilian populations. Sanctions that were not properly targeted could lead to the unravelling of the social fabric of a society. They could thus, paradoxically, support the very leaders that the sanctions were supposed to bring down. Recent sanctions regimes had demonstrated that they can also cause mounting problems for neighbouring countries and trading partners. Targets must be more precisely identified, and sanctions more focused, so as to isolate political leaders while guaranteeing the basic needs of people. What was needed was maximum effectiveness against political leadership, with minimum influence on everyday life. They should be backed up with information campaigns that provide data in support of viable political alternatives.

At present there was a certain hesitancy in choosing to apply sanctions, he said, because of the fear that, once introduced, sanctions regimes may extend beyond their original intentions, he said. Internal divisions among Member States and within the United Nations system undermined the Council’s authority. Clear and precise regimes must be established through broad consensus, as all Member States must eventually both shoulder the burden and regulate any sanctions introduced.

In addition, the experience of United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Children's Fund, the Centre for Human Rights, and the Food and Agriculture Organization, could be of great use in monitoring the effects of sanctions, he said. The Council should ensure that those agencies are involved, particularly in discussions of ways and means to address the human impact of sanctions.

PER NORSTROM (Sweden) said sanctions were an important tool and efforts must be made to ensure they achieved their aim. Better targeting was crucial to their effectiveness. They should be instituted in such a way as to minimize impacts on third parties. The Council must accept the responsibility of ensuring that sanctions did not affect innocent civilians. Explicit provisions should be drawn up for humanitarian exemptions, and regular assessments should be undertaken, with modifications made to sanctions regimes where necessary. In addition to their humanitarian component, such actions would help maintain support for the sanctions themselves. Council sanctions committees must maintain a high level of knowledge of humanitarian conditions, and could draw that from non-governmental organizations as well as from Council missions to the field.

Sweden was pleased that the Council had decided to look at the unintended impact of sanctions, he said, as it was well known that they were currently faulty in both compliance and implementation. In part, this was due to weak methods of enforcement and to the lack of legal and other mechanisms to give them effect in some States. However, it was also due to the lack of enforcement of the regimes. All Member States were bound to the Council’s decisions, but systematic violations of those decisions regularly occurred. The price for violations must be higher. The United Nations had few means to do this, but the option of publicly identifying violations existed. "Naming and shaming" could be a strong tool to support enforcement.

The intelligence available to sanctions committees must be enhanced to allow for effective monitoring, he said. The committees should draw information more often from non-governmental organizations and from others with expertise. The commendable initiatives of the Angolan sanctions committee provided a useful model for intelligence gathering, and thus contributed to improved implementation.

Arms embargoes -- measures to reduce arms flows into conflict zones -- had never been applied satisfactorily. Countries should show restraint in selling arms to States in regions where the level of conflict was high. The Security Council should consider using arms embargoes more often, and there were a number of devastating conflicts taking place at present where embargoes should have been applied. Sanctions also could and should be made more effective through improved monitoring, reporting and implementation.

PENNY WENSLEY (Australia) said the common criticism that sanctions could be a blunt instrument was probably true in some respects, but they remained a necessary instrument and an integral part of the graduated set of responses available to the Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. It was inescapable, however, that innocent civilians would be affected by the imposition of sanctions -– although much of the hardship suffered by such populations could also be attributed to the policies of the target regime. The State in question must return to full compliance with Council decisions so that sanctions could be ended quickly and its people allowed to return to a normal life.

She said many measures to make sanctions more effective had been identified, and they warranted careful consideration. They included more clearly defining the objectives of sanctions in Council resolutions; ongoing assessment of the humanitarian impact of sanctions and of other unintended impacts, including on third parties; more efficient administration of exemptions by the sanctions committees; and periodic assessment of the overall effectiveness of particular measures in changing the behaviour of the target State.

Referring to the enforcement of sanctions by Member States, she underlined the importance of assisting countries with the implementation and enforcement of sanctions, including drawing up appropriate laws. She also stressed the need for the Council to take action quickly to investigate and act on reports of violations. Consideration should be given to augmenting the resources of the Secretariat available to service sanctions committees.

She went on to say that her Government supported the proposal to establish a Council working group to develop recommendations for improving the effectiveness of sanctions. It was an issue that went to the heart of the way the Council discharged its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. There were creative ways to involve non-Council members in the working group and to draw on other areas of expertise.

VLADIMIR SOTIROV (Bulgaria) said the current discussion on enhancing the effectiveness of sanctions was a substantial part of the process of strengthening the role of the United Nations and reforming the Security Council. Since the entry into force of the Charter, few issues had been of greater relevance than the question of making sanctions an appropriate tool for achieving a sustainable peace and stability.

For that reason, he was in favour of the current efforts to establish monitoring mechanisms and improve the administration of sanctions. That was the shortcut to realization of the “targeted” sanctions concept. Sanctions must have clearly defined objectives and goals. The destructive collateral effects on the people of the target State could be minimized by focusing the sanctions on the leaders. Further, the Council should evaluate the humanitarian and related implications on vulnerable groups before imposing such measures. In every case, the criteria of proportionality should be used; the scope must be compatible with the objectives.

He said it was worth recalling the note by the President of the Council on the work of the sanctions committees, which included valuable suggestions to improve the assessment of the economic impact of sanctions on third States. A case in point was the enormous economic damage suffered by Bulgaria and other third countries as a result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Libya and others. The direct losses suffered by Bulgaria were more than $10 billion. Thus, his Government had repeatedly supported the idea that the application of sanctions should be accompanied by concerted efforts to prevent adverse consequences on third States and by the adoption of mechanisms to assist those States promptly and effectively.

The particular importance he attached to the issues arose from their direct link to the question of the proper implementation of Article 50 of the Charter, he said. There were a number of resolutions already adopted by the General Assembly concerning third States, which was a mark of significant progress in addressing the problem. In conclusion, he wanted to recall the invitation extended to the Council by the Assembly to consider the establishment of further mechanisms for consultations under Article 50 with third States confronted with special economic problems arising from the application of sanctions. He was confident that the reassessment of working methods with regard to Article 50 would contribute to the effectiveness of sanctions regimes.

TREVOR HUGHES (New Zealand) said the mechanisms for enforcing sanctions had too often been lacking or had not been uniformly implemented. There had been little reliable information on or monitoring of their actual effects. He said sanctions had had a limited record of success in achieving the goals for which they were imposed. Compliance had often been inadequate or uneven, the economies of neighbouring countries could be impacted adversely, and black markets and smuggling in banned goods or commodities could flourish.

New Zealand believed that the Security Council needed to develop a more focused and refined approach to reduce the unintended consequences of sanctions, especially the incidence of humanitarian suffering. New Zealand supported the use of sanctions as a legitimate instrument, provided for by the Charter, for dealing with threats to international peace and security. It was rather its effectiveness and unmoderated side effects on innocent civilians and neighbouring countries that were at issue.

The trend away from general trade towards a more selective approach needed to be accelerated, with greater efforts made to identify a limited range of goods and services that would target the interests of the regimes and elites identified as responsible for threats to peace and security. The procedures for approving humanitarian exemptions to sanctions regimes should be overhauled and streamlined. United Nations agencies as well as humanitarian organizations should also be able to apply directly to the sanctions committees for exemptions. The Secretariat should establish a dedicated unit to maintain the necessary databases and process applications and notifications electronically.

The sanctions committees should be able to draw on special expertise to identify the profiles of their targets and design the scope of proposed targeted sanctions accordingly. Clear exit strategies identifying the actions required to suspend or remove sanctions should be built into mandates to clarify the inducements for compliance. There should also be mechanisms in place to monitor and regularly assess the impact of sanctions. The possibilities for better border controls should also be explored, he said.

RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said for sanctions to be effective and a just mechanism, comprehensive reform of the Council was necessary. As the Charter had established, the Council acted on behalf of Member States. Any action it took must represent the collective will of the membership. Sanctions regimes could not remain the act of a collective few. Regrettably, he said that in spite of the fact that the Organization represented 188 Members, sanctions regimes were the work of the Security Council’s five permanent members. Fourteen sanctions regimes so far implemented were directed against developing countries, but none had been applied to developed countries. Did not the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia justify sanctions against member States of that organization? he asked.

The economic blockade against his country by the United States had been condemned by the General Assembly, and constituted a flagrant violation of the human rights of the 11 million Cuban people. Functions assigned to the General Assembly in the area of peace and security should be strengthened. The General Assembly should be given a role on questions relating to sanctions.

Cuba reiterated its rejection of the sanctions imposed against his country. Sanctions regimes must be lifted once their objectives were attained. They must include specific provisions to ensure that the most vulnerable had access to food and other humanitarian needs. They must be subject to periodic review. The Council’s sanctions committees must also be subject to reviews, and must be transparent. The Council must listen to the calls of the Organization’s membership. Sanctions must be humane, as indicated by the Secretary-General in his millennium report.

JENO C.A. STAEHELIN, Permanent Observer of Switzerland, said that the number of sanctions regimes had increased in recent years, and the targeting of sanctions had now been accepted as important. There was now better targeting of financial sanctions. Switzerland was not a Member State of the United Nations, he noted, but it chose to apply United Nations-imposed sanctions regimes.

As a financial centre, Switzerland had a special interest in financial sanctions, he said. It was clear that only coordinated action by the main financial actors could ensure that financial sanctions achieved the desired results. Therefore, Switzerland had organized over the past two years a series of expert meetings to informally examine concrete proposals to improve financial sanctions. Those seminars were a place for dialogue between governments, international financial institutions, the United Nations, the private banking sector and the academic world. They had shown that targeted financial sanctions could be an effective means of targeting political leaders, but that they were not, in themselves, enough. They must form part of an overall strategy and be integrated with other measures, such as arms embargoes and travel restrictions. In addition, the vulnerability of the targeted country and its elite must be examined if sanctions were to be successfully designed and maintained, and the ability to do so was essential.

Among the results of those seminars were a better knowledge of financial sanctions and of certain technical aspects related to them, as well as better information on the flows of funds, he said. The seminars had also dealt with the drafting of sanctions regulations, and in particular the use of standard language and of correct technical expressions. Technical guidelines had been established for the better implementation of such sanctions by States, including guidelines for drafting better national laws. The seminars had also provided an informal forum for cooperation between the sectors that were inevitably involved in implementing such sanctions.

The chief conclusions reached were that financial sanctions were feasible, but that concrete measures at the international and national levels were needed to make them more effective, he said. The technical elements for the creation of effective financial sanctions were thus available to the Security Council. What remained was the question of mobilizing political will to properly enact them.

SAEED HASAN (Iraq) said that, with the collapse of the socialist camp, the world was now unipolar. The United States now had the means to illegitimately influence international decision-making, and had imposed its own views on the United Nations, notably regarding the extremist use of sanctions. Until 1990, sanctions regimes had only been imposed twice, on the racist States of South Africa and Rhodesia. Between 1990 and 1997, sanctions had been imposed on 11 States, and the majority of these impositions were simply to implement United States foreign policy objectives. The United States had used the United Nations as part of its diplomatic arsenal, as United States Senator Jesse Helms had told the Security Council on 20 January this year.

The first ever hegemonic act by the United States had been the imposition of comprehensive sanctions against Iraq, he said. This had been done without any effort to employ peaceful means to redress the problem. Those sanctions were unprecedented, and would probably remain unique within the United Nations. They prohibited all imports and exports into and out of Iraq. Exemptions introduced later for medical and food supplies had no practical effect, because all the exports that Iraq might have used to obtain hard currency to purchase humanitarian supplies had been banned.

Among the reasons that had made this illegitimate sanctions regime possible was the lack of checks and balances limiting the use of sanctions in the United Nations Charter, he said. The comprehensive sanctions imposed on Iraq had led to a humanitarian tragedy, with the death of more than 1.5 million Iraqis, and had destroyed the foundations of the Iraqi economy and of Iraqi life in general. The second annex of a report to the Council by the representative of Brazil, dated 30 March 1999, gave a detailed picture of the catastrophic effect sanctions had on all life in Iraq, including a serious decrease in gross domestic product, an increase in mortality rates, among mothers and children in particular, severe malnutrition in children, grave infrastructure degradation, including the degradation of the systems providing sanitation, electricity, water and medical services. There had been a large reduction in school registrations of children. There was now a paucity of cultural and intellectual life. That report also said that the humanitarian situation would remain terrible unless there was a revival in the economy, which could not come about as a consequence of palliative humanitarian efforts. Many others had described the effects of the sanctions on Iraq in detail, including the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), non-governmental organizations, and those in the field, such as two previous United Nations humanitarian coordinators.

Former Secretary-General Boutros Ghali had recommended a study of the sanctions situation, he said. A working group was subsequently established, and the General Assembly had adopted the recommendations of that group. It was regrettable that the Council had not taken up even one of the substantive recommendations approved by the Assembly, and that those recommendations remained "dead letters". Foremost among the recommendations was the need for sanctions resolutions to include a specific time frame. Another recommendation proposed that the Council set out steps which, if taken by target countries, would lead to the lifting of sanctions. The Assembly also approved recommendations for efforts to enable target countries to obtain resources, and suggested that procedures be established to allow target States to finance humanitarian imports.

The objective of sanctions was to modify behaviour, not to punish, he said. The grave negative effects of sanctions on development must be addressed. The Council must submit regular reports to the Assembly on the status of specific sanctions regimes. Measures must be adopted in response to Article 50 of the United Nations Charter.

Target countries must be permitted to present their views to sanctions committees, he added. Limited improvements had been recommended, by the Security Council presidency, to working methods of sanctions committees. But they did not take up the foremost problem, which was that those committees insisted on unanimity in decision-making. This meant that any member could effectively exercise a veto. It was a contravention of the most elemental rules of democracy and also of collective responsibility. It allowed the United States to place on hold $1.8 billion of humanitarian contracts under the Oil for Food Programme for political reasons. It also prevented that committee from reaching any agreement on ways to improve its working methods.

However, even those limited improvements had resulted in no changes in the Iraq sanctions committee, he said. Despite the catastrophic results of sanctions on Iraq, the sanctions committee continued to work behind closed doors, and refused to allow the Permanent Representative of Iraq to clarify his country's position. It also refused to provide Iraq with copies of its agenda or its summary records. It was regrettable that the committee's current chair held a preconceived position which was reflected in the way he presided over the committee. He was more of a royalist than the American king himself.

He was not telling any Council member anything new, he said. When coercion was applied by the Council, it must ensure it interlinked its actions with other international responsibilities, as defined in conventions and treaties. The United States had forced the Security Council to impose comprehensive sanctions which were in breach of many international treaties and conventions, including the convention on genocide. According to the definition contained in that treaty, the Council's action against Iraq constituted a genocide. It also breached the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the related protocols, which stated that starvation could not be used as a means of war.

There was now currently some talk of replacing the current sanctions regime with a more intelligent regime, he said. This was ill-intentioned, as it aimed at entrenching the sanctions against Iraq and turning them into an end in themselves. Iraq had satisfied both the relevant resolutions that established the sanctions. It had withdrawn from Kuwait, and the issue of weapons of mass destruction had been settled for years. Not one iota of proof to the contrary had been provided, and, as former inspector Scott Ritter had told journalist John Pilger, the real threat posed by Iraq was zero. It was clear that the Council should lift sanctions, not replace or suspend them. Daily those sanctions killed some 7,000 Iraqi children.

The organized destruction of Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom, through acts of aggression, through "no-fly zones", and through the environmental and health consequences of their use of depleted uranium during the Gulf War was the gravest of crimes, he said. He appealed to all the countries of the world. The sanctions were imposed on their behalf, under the authority granted the Security Council in the United Nations Charter. They had a legal and moral duty to take that authorization away from the Council, because it had used the authority to propagate a genocide. Any State that did so would absolve itself of the responsibility for the genocide, and thus contribute to re-establishing the credibility of the United Nations. Any State that did so might also be helping the United States by encouraging it to respect the United Nations Charter.

NASTE CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) expressed regret for the non-implementation of Article 50 of the Charter which dealt with assistance to third States affected by the imposition of United Nations sanctions. His country had been negatively affected in a substantial way in the last 10 years as a result. The negative effects of the sanctions were a main obstacle for the difficult development of the country and the main cause for social and humanitarian problems. The Security Council must insist on adequate compensation to the victims, due to the non-implementation of Article 50.

He said that before the Security Council opted for imposition of sanctions under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Secretary-General should prepare an analytical study of the negative impact on the political, economic and social situation of third countries. The study should be carried out in consultation with those countries. There should also be a specific request in sanctions resolutions to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and similar bodies to undertake projects to alleviate the negative effects of sanctions on the countries concerned.

Sanctions resolutions should also have provisions requesting Member States to contribute to a fund for compensation to alleviate the negative effects of sanctions on third countries.

SAFAK GOKTURK (Turkey) said the Security Council must devise ways to render sanctions more focused, sparing populations and their future generations from further devastation. The collateral effects of sanctions on third States, and especially the uneven burden they placed on countries neighbouring the target State, were an issue which must be addressed resolutely. Turkey had suffered immense economic and social losses because of its adherence to the sanctions regime directed to one of its neighbours. Continued application, in accordance with Article 50 of the Charter, remained before the relevant sanctions committee of the Council..

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For information media. Not an official record.