Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
TUESDAY 18 MAY 1999
MR TONY BRENTON, MR EDWARD CHAPLIN, MS ELIZABETH
WILMSHURST AND MR TONY FAINT
40. But is it not all a lot of bluff, really, because
everybody knows that from day one sanctions have been busted and
that illegal trade has continued apace? And anybody who has seen
what happens on the borders between Turkey and Iraq, Syria and
Iraq, Iran and Iraq, knows very well that sanctions-busting goes
on every day. So is there not quite a bit of hypocrisy from the
international community, from the UN itself that does not police
it adequately, and from ourselves who continue to pretend that
it is all working?
(Mr Chaplin) I think
there are leakages in any sanctions regime, I guess that is a
fact of life. I think the leakages in the case of Iraq should
not be exaggerated, it goes on, but, as a proportion of Iraq's
pre-sanctions economy activity, I would submit, it is relatively
small. And the international community, and the UK in particular,
puts a lot of effort into making the sanctions regime as effective
as possible; for example, in the Gulf, we take part in the international
naval force which intercepts those who are trying to smuggle oil
illegally out of Iraq. It is important to do that not only to
give the regime the message that there is only one legitimate
way of escaping from sanctions but also because the revenue from
those illegal sales, of course, does not go to the people it goes
to the regime.
41. And to political parties.
(Mr Chaplin) And
there has been some success; recently, the amount of oil being
smuggled out through the Gulf route has diminished quite dramatically.
42. How do you monitor that, as it is being smuggled
out; presumably, you do not know about it?
(Mr Chaplin) As
I say, there is a naval force in the Gulf, a multinational naval
force, which uses all the sources it has, including intelligence
sources, to track those who are exporting oil illegally.
what you really mean is that it is not coming out of the Gulf
(Mr Chaplin) No,
it is; it is usually oil products being smuggled in relatively
small ships, where they can use territorial waters, Iranian territorial
44. But there are other means of getting oil out of Iraq
other than through the Gulf, are there not?
(Mr Chaplin) Yes,
45. I would like to return to the issue of making
sanctions "smarter" and more effective. As you are aware,
in Angola there have been UN resolutions 864, 1127 and 1173, imposing
sanctions on UNITA; and I think most people agree that these have
been totally ineffective. UNITA is, at the moment, overrunning
around half the country, they have been able to sell their diamonds
internationally, and they have still been able to run their offices
and organise internationally too; until very recently, the UNITA
office in London was still open and functional. I know there has
been a review going on, or this planned review, about sanctions
against UNITA, but could you give us your impressions, because
you must have some already, about why the sanctions process against
UNITA has been so ineffective, and also tell me, I know that DFID
are funding part of that review process, but is the Foreign Office,
and the Home Office also, being involved in that review, because
they were targeted also to try to tighten up the sanctions campaign
(Mr Brenton) I will
let Tony speak to the DFID point in a minute. Yes, we agree that
the effects of the sanctions on UNITA have not been satisfactory.
It is worth recalling, there was a period, however, when it did
look as if UNITA was being coaxed in the direction of a general
settlement in Angola, and the failure has been relatively recent.
Yes, we are fully involved in the review and are very keen to
make the sanctions regime more effective, and we are contributing
technical expertise, and so on, to the process which is going
on in New York to look at the regime and see what more can be
46. Could you say why it has been ineffective, you said it
has been effective until fairly recently, but why is it not being;
can you put a bit more meat on the bones of that?
(Mr Brenton) The
test of the effectiveness of a sanctions regime is achieving the
result that you want, and up until, I do not have the date in
my mind, but something like the middle of last year, it looked
as if UNITA was co-operating in the process of settlement in Angola,
and then it all began to fall apart. So it is from then on that
we have had to think again about the effectiveness of our actions.
But why did it fall apart; was it because some countries were
not implementing it, or were there huge loopholes in the processes?
(Mr Brenton) No,
I think it was a change of attitude within UNITA to the settlement
48. But you feel the actual sanctions process was being
implemented, essentially, satisfactorily?
(Mr Brenton) I think
it was helpful. No sanctions process is perfect; as we pointed
out, there are always leaks and evasions. Nevertheless, I think
the sanctions process helped to demonstrate the determination
of the international community to bring UNITA to the table and
to help the process in Angola to a satisfactory conclusion.
Could it not be argued as well though that it actually acted as
a smoke-screen, because it gave the impression that the international
community were actually doing something about UNITA; and in reality
they were still able to organise, they were still able to get
funding, they were still able to sell their diamonds? And all
this went on in the background, which helped them to re-arm themselves
and then restart their offensive, while all the time there was
this impression that the UN resolutions were there and that international
sanctions were being imposed, and in reality not a lot was happening,
and it gave UNITA the opportunity to re-enter into the war again?
(Mr Brenton) I think
I would resist the word "smoke-screen". We thought,
as I say, that things were genuinely moving in the right direction;
we were wrong, and we now have to rethink and strengthen the sanctions
regime in order to get things back on track.
(Mr Faint) From the point of view of
DFID, I think this is quite an interesting sort of test case for
us, of the ability to design smarter sanctions which are well
targeted and do not have adverse humanitarian effects. And we
have committed a sum, from memory, of $300,000 towards the study
of the Angola sanctions regime, to try to make it both more effective
and reduce any impact on vulnerable groups, and that study will
be going forward, I am not sure if I have an exact timetable,
it has not started yet, so we have made a commitment and will
be planning and carrying that out. We could send the Committee
terms of reference for our study, if it is of interest to you,
I do not actually have them with me.
50. Yes, please.
(Mr Faint) But I
think it is very much an example of the kind of approach we would
like to see applied to sanctions regimes; oil and diamonds, I
think, are the critical commodities that we are trying to target,
in this case. This is a multi-donor operation which we are contributing
to, we have provided $300,000 out of a total cost of $850,000.
At the moment, the study is slightly underfunded, but most of
the funds are already there; the whole thing is under UN auspices.
51. Did your study show any sign that one of the
effects of sanctions was to cause the population to close behind
what would be otherwise an unpopular regime?
(Mr Brenton) I think
that is a danger. I am trying to think back, but I do not think
I can think of a case where that has actually happened. Iraq,
no-one knows. No; it is obviously a danger you need to be aware
of, and it is a danger which you address, in the way I have already
said, by focusing your sanctions, to the extent you can, on any
groups who support the regime.
52. It seemed to me that certainly
the propaganda in Cuba has been to the effect that Castro is still
there. I myself believe that if there were no sanctions in Cuba
Castro would disappear, because the pressure of the population
to assimilate American culture and American food would be overwhelming.
(Mr Brenton) Happily,
Her Majesty's Government does not have to answer for sanctions
Mr Rowe: I know; that is right.
53. It is a US-imposed sanction, is it not; is it
just the United States?
(Mr Brenton) I think
it is just the United States.
54. You all sound so terribly cool about the fact
that we can impose sanctions and then they are broken, and, well,
that is just in the course of things. I was in southern Sudan
earlier in the year and I asked some of the SPLA commanders where
they got their arms from, because there is, is there not, an arms
embargo, arms sanctions, against them there; and they said: "Oh,
no problem, we get them from here and from there," there
was just no problem, they could get arms from anywhere, virtually.
And I just wonder, during this review, sorry to go back to the
review, but have you addressed this problem? I am quite excited,
I am quite engaged by the fact that people break sanctions, and
yet the FCO and DFID do not seem to be?
(Mr Brenton) No;
if we have given the impression of being cool, of course, we are
55. You are very angry, really?
(Mr Brenton) That
is right; absolutely. The training conceals it. Obviously, if
we impose a sanctions regime, we are very keen that it should
be fulfilled, and we, the UK, are really very scrupulous in observing
the obligations we take on, as is usual in international life.
It is a sad fact that other countries are less scrupulous, and
there are means to encourage them, through EU infractions procedures,
through the operations of the various Sanctions Committees in
New York, but, as it were, the sanctions to support sanctions
are very limited and of very limited effect, and there is no obvious
way of remedying that, other than pressure, diplomatic démarches,
and so on, of one sort and another. In certain extreme cases,
there are the patrols in the Gulf, there are patrols now also
in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, in connection with Kosovo,
more visible and material means are used. But, you are right,
it is a major flaw in the international system, and if we could
think of ways of strengthening sanctions regimes, which we do
put quite a lot of effort into, as Tony has said, we would do
56. Could I just go back briefly to Mr Edward Chaplin,
and you said that the objective of the sanctions regime, I think
it was you, or was it Tony Brenton who said the objective of the
Iraqi sanctions was not to bring down the regime of Saddam Hussein;
if that is so, what was the objective?
(Mr Chaplin) I tried
to explain at the beginning, the objective was to persuade Iraq
to comply with all the obligations laid down in the various Security
Council resolutions, passed by the Security Council, which, indeed,
Iraq had accepted, and they include such matters as giving up
its weapons of mass destruction capability, certainly the most
important area of most concern to us, and it is because they have
not done that, because they have been so determined to hang on
to that sort of capability, that the sanctions are still there.
But over the years a lot of exemptions have been crafted to try
to ensure that as much humanitarian assistance as is needed gets
to the people who need it.
57. Yes, but the objective is, you say
that Iraq had agreed these things; now that he has managed to
evade the sanctions, you spoke of the inadequacy of the inspections
regime on biological warfare and chemical warfare, I think, now
he has managed to evade any attempts to impose these, what are
we going to do now?
(Mr Chaplin) It
is an ongoing process. The Security Council continues to insist
that Iraq has to comply with its obligations; the argument tends
to be over the extent to which Iraq already has complied. Iraq
would claim that they have complied and therefore sanctions ought
to be lifted; the Security Council disagrees, so far. So it is
an ongoing process to persuade Iraq to go the final steps, and
they have come quite a long way, a lot has been achieved in the
WMD area, so sanctions have achieved that; it has meanwhile contained
a country and a regime with a rather brutal record of aggression
against its neighbours and against its own people. So that is
an achievement. But, the question of when do you get to the end
of the road, you get to the end of the road when Iraq has fully
complied, and then sanctions can be lifted, and that is what the
Council has agreed.
58. Yes, but supposing Iraq rather likes the
sanctions, the regime rather likes them, because they are making
a lot of money out of it, you are never going to lift them, are
you, because Iraq will never comply?
(Mr Chaplin) It
is up to Iraq to decide where its interests lie, of course, and
they cannot be obliged to comply; but, I think, from the strenuous
efforts that Iraq has made over the years to try to persuade the
Council that sanctions should be lifted, it would suggest to me
that Iraq would prefer the sanctions to be lifted.
59. But if the UN is serious about the implementation
of sanctions, why does it not police that implementation more
rigorously? Anybody who has seen that border trade between Turkey
and Iraq, in particular, knows very well that illegal trading
goes on every day, and that those huge lorries carry goods into
Iraq, sometimes luxury goods, they come back, with their oil tanks
full. What is the system of UN policing on those borders?
(Mr Chaplin) It
is up to every UN member to ensure that the sanctions agreed by
the Council are implemented properly; it is not for us to tell
other countries, though we do make representations to other countries
when we spot sanctions leaks, but there is nothing we can do nationally
to ensure that they enforce sanctions as rigorously as we would
wish. Where there is a multilateral effort, as in the Gulf, as
I have described, then we take part in that. You are right, the
illegal traffic across the border into Turkey has been a long-standing
source of concern; and from time to time we make efforts to try
to get something into a new Security Council resolution which
would get at that, and that is one of the things that we have
proposed should be in the next Council resolution, on which discussions
are about to start in New York. Because if you can bring that
trade within a regime, it is not so much the objection that oil
is being exported by that route, the objection is that the proceeds
from that are not going into the humanitarian programme; if we
can get that trade brought within the framework of the Security
Council resolutions then the revenue from that would be put into
the humanitarian programme and not into the pockets of the regime,
and that would certainly be very desirable.