THE ROLE OF THE UK
9. The UK is a member of a number of sanctioning
bodies: the UN (a permanent member of the Security Council), EU,
OSCE and the Commonwealth; the UK has also, in the past, imposed
bilateral sanctions such as the arms embargo imposed on Argentina
in 1982 (lifted in December 1998). The UK therefore has an important
role to play in the imposition, maintenance, review and lifting
of sanctions imposed by those organisations of which it is a member.
More importantly, the UK can exercise great influence in determining
the nature and scope of sanctions regimes prior to their imposition.
The Government's Review of Sanctions Policy
10. The Government has recently completed a wide-ranging
review of sanctions policy, the conclusions of which were announced
on 15 March 1999 in a response to a written parliamentary question.
In brief, the review noted that sanctions have long been an important
tool of UK foreign policy and were likely to remain so
but also acknowledged the potential side-effects of sanctions.
It concluded that there was a need for better targeted, "smarter
and set out a number of broad principles that should, in future,
be followed "Sanctions should:
- be targeted to hit the regime rather than the
- include exemptions to minimise the humanitarian
impact on innocent civilians;
- have clear objectives, including well-defined
and realistic demands against which compliance can be judged,
and a clear exit strategy;
- have effective arrangements for implementation
and enforcement by all states, especially by neighbouring countries;
- avoid unnecessary adverse impact on UK economic
and commercial interests."
11. A number of witnesses have commented on the Government's
review. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), some of which had
already sponsored research into the humanitarian impact of sanctions,
were not, at any stage, consulted about the Government's review
of sanctions, a point made by ActionAid, "We were somewhat
disappointed that there was never an opportunity to input any
of our conclusions that led out of that research into the Government's
Similarly, the review was unable to take account of the full conclusions
of a seminar funded by DFID and held by the Overseas Development
Institute which had examined the issue of smarter sanctions, a
point made by Rita Bhatia of Save the Children, "in December
last year  there was a conference on Smarter Sanctions organised
by the Overseas Development Institute. I believe that DFID were
one of the co-sponsors of that. Some of us thought that the report
from that conference would feed into the review, but there has
not been a report from that conference."
Peter Hain, Minister of State, FCO, argued that whilst NGOs were
not at any stage formally consulted, his department was in constant
contact with interested parties.
The fact that NGOs were not allowed the opportunity formally
to provide input into the Government's review of sanctions must
be regarded as a lost opportunity.
12. Witnesses also expressed concern that the full
results of the review had not been published.
Tony Brenton, Director, Global Issues, FCO, explained that this
was because "there was material covered in the review which
would not be helpful to British interests to publish." Since
that time, the Government has decided to make the full contents
of the review available to the Committee on a confidential basis.
In the following paragraphs we respect the confidentiality of
the document and limit our discussions of it to general comments.
Whilst we found the review a useful assessment of both existing
sanctions policy and possible future alternative strategies, we
remain concerned that the Government has published insufficient
information to allow for an informed debate on international sanctions
policy both within domestic civil society and within multilateral
organisations of which the UK is a member. There is still a need
for a comprehensive public statement by the Government of its
sanctions policy. We recommend that the Government use the opportunity
of its response to this Report to make such a statement in a Command
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