Select Committee on International Development Second Report


1. Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has increasingly resorted to the use of sanctions as a middle way between non-coercive diplomacy and the use of force. In 1999 alone, sanctions were imposed on Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Indonesia by international organisations of which the UK is a member, and existing sanctions were maintained against a further 20 states.[1] However, this has led to growing concern about the developmental/humanitarian impact of sanctions on civilian populations.

2. Such concern has led to a search for 'smarter' sanctions regimes — both at national and international levels. Smarter sanctions are intended to reduce the impact of sanctions on the civilian population — either by targeting specific goods, elites or individuals, or through improved exemption mechanisms for humanitarian goods and supplies.

3. The UK Government has a particularly important role to play in sanctions policy. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is a leading member of other sanctioning organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the EU. The Government has recently completed a review of its own sanctions policy which concluded that there was a need for better targeted, "smarter sanctions."[2] We decided this was a useful occasion to conduct an inquiry into the future of sanctions, to consider whether the Government's sanctions policy is consistent with the commitments it made in the Development White Paper to the elimination of poverty and the promotion of human rights.

4. The overall purpose of this Report is not to comment on the merits of sanctions as a tool of foreign policy, nor to justify or condemn their use against particular regimes, but rather to assess the impact of sanctions on target regimes in humanitarian/developmental terms and to examine existing proposals to reduce both unintended consequences and unwarranted harm.

5. We are grateful to all who gave oral evidence to the Committee in the course of this inquiry: Peter Hain MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Tony Brenton, Edward Chaplin OBE and Elizabeth Wilmshurst (FCO); Tony Faint (DFID); Rita Bhatia, Mark Bowden and Chris Saunders (Save the Children); Dr Sarah Collinson (ActionAid); Mikael Barfod (EC Humanitarian Office); Claude Bruderlein (Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies) Marcello Casale and Jonathon Jones (HM Treasury); Tony Gammon (Bank of England); Simon Goddard (National Criminal Intelligence Service); Ambassador Robert Fowler (Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Chairman of the Angola Sanctions Committee); Dr Latif Rashid (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Britain), Hoshyan Zebari (Kurdistan Democratic Party), and Dr Salah Shaikhly (Iraqi National Accord), Members of the Iraqi National Congress; Jeremy Carver CBE (Partner and Head of International Law Group, Clifford Chance). We are also particularly grateful to Hans Von Sponeck, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq, who kindly agreed to provide the Committee with information on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. We would also thank all those who supplied the Committee with written evidence and background briefings in the course of this inquiry.

1   As of 4 November. Source: DTI Website. Back

2   Ev p.1 Back

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