Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
TUESDAY 18 MAY 1999
MR TONY BRENTON, MR EDWARD CHAPLIN, MS ELIZABETH
WILMSHURST AND MR TONY FAINT
120. And, actually, quite a lot of your aid programmes,
anyhow, concentrate on trying to build Customs and Excise effectiveness,
anyway, do they not?
(Mr Faint) We are
doing a fair amount of that around the world, in Africa, for example,
yes.121. What arrangements have been made in the past to compensate
states that were formerly major trading partners with the targeted
(Mr Brenton) There
is a general principle here, which is that it seems to us quite
wrong that you should compensate countries for observing mandatory
UN requirements. That said, obviously, some sanctions regimes
do have a disproportionate impact on neighbouring countries, and
there is a role for, in particular, the international financial
institutions to help them deal with what is a particular part
of their set of economic problems. So it is not a matter of direct
compensation, it is a matter of the international financial institutions
taking into account, in their programmes, the fact that countries
are disproportionately affected by sanctions regimes that they
are close to.
122. Just a minute, Mr Brenton. We have just been
to Macedonia, and that is a neighbouring state to the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia, on which we have put draconian sanctions,
have we not? That Macedonian state, we must call it FYR, the former
Republic of Yugoslavia and Macedonia, has lost something like
80per cent of its trade. Are you really saying to me that it is
their duty to bear this without any kind of assistance of the
international community, because they are carrying out their United
(Mr Brenton) There
are no UN sanctions, of course, on Yugoslavia, this is not a UN
case. Obviously, Macedonia, and it is not just Macedonia, a lot
of countries in the region are suffering terribly because of events
in Kosovo, and there are quite advanced plans to do a huge rebuilding
exercise in that part of the world once we have won in Serbia.
The Germans have proposed, I cannot remember what it is called,
but anyway a major exercise
(Mr Faint) A stability
(Mr Brenton) A stability pact for south
eastern Europe, which involves bilateral aid, multilateral aid,
all of the big institutions, the EU, NATO, and so on, strengthening
their links in various ways with the countries of the regions,
precisely in recognition of the fact that the current war is doing
a lot of damage down there.123. But you said there are no sanctions
against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. I have got a list
here, a United Nations arms embargo is applied, in which we presumably
are useful, the European Union, in which we are involved, I believe,
has also applied visa restrictions, no government finance, export
credits, etc, there is a long list here; so we are involved in
the sanctions against Yugoslavia, are we not?
(Mr Brenton) Yes,
but the UN sanctions, which is the case I was addressing with
Mr Rowe, are confined, as you say, to the arms embargo. So the
economic effect of124. To the arms embargo, yes. So we
are involved in the European Union sanctions?
(Mr Brenton) Yes.125.
Does your argument apply to European Union sanctions, that the
neighbouring states should carry out their duties in the way that
you said the UN sanctions?
(Mr Brenton) No,
it does not, because, in the case of the UN, all states, virtually,
are members, and part of the obligation of membership is to participate
in whatever regimes the UN chooses to impose. Macedonia is plainly
not a member of the EU, and therefore there is, as it were, a
moral requirement on the EU to compensate Macedonia for the damage
that is being done.
126. I see. I understand there was a meeting of aid
donors, in Paris, was it not, Tony Faint?
(Mr Faint) It was
probably in Brussels, but there was a recent meeting of aid donors.
What I would like to add to what Tony said is, this is really
a general case of when a country which is undertaking development
programmes and is compliant with international organisations,
when it suffers a shock, an external shock, of any kind, it is
quite normal for the international organisations to look at the
economy and look at the effects of the shock and try to find means
of enabling the country to continue with its development. And
that is what, essentially, we have been doing in relation to the
surrounding countries of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in
the current crisis. And there has been a series of meetings, the
European Union has made available some financial facilities, the
IFIs have made available loans to Macedonia and Albania, balance
of payments support has also been authorised, though I am not
sure that it is actually passed yet, to Bulgaria and Romania,
simply on account of the losses that they have suffered as against
what would otherwise have been the case. I think the point really
is, we do not recognise a formal, legal and automatic right to
compensation for countries which are implementing sanctions, but,
as with any other shock, if they have suffered an adverse shock
and they are countries which are behaving well, the international
community will try to find a means of remedying that.
127. Directly on this point, the original sanctions
against Burundi, before they were suspended, were imposed in exactly
the way that you would like, by a regional group of countries,
rather than by the UN or the EU or anything like that. Now is
part of the tacit support to countries in an area who are trying
to bring to heel a country that is behaving badly that you would
actually up the aid that they get, or in other ways compensate
them for the damage that their imposition of sanctions might do
to their own economies?
(Mr Brenton) I think
it depends very much on the circumstances. Tony has put it very
well. If, as the result of an external shock, the economies in
an area suffer, then, typically, this is not purely a political
thing, it is a matter of routine, international financial institutions
are there128. But these are self-imposed shocks, because
they do not have to put sanctions on, they, themselves, as a group,
voted to put sanctions on Burundi; if that damaged their economies,
would we feel any obligation to help them?
(Mr Brenton) I think
the answer to that is, it depends upon how sympathetic we are
to129. Yes, to what they are trying to do.
(Mr Brenton) But
the IFIs will not make the judgement on political grounds, they
will, in general, make the judgement on economic grounds.
(Mr Faint) But they
will not, on the whole, provide support to countries which they
consider to be behaving in an irrational and ill-judged manner,
from an economic point of view. However, in the case of Burundi,
I should think that most of the damage was to Burundi rather than
to the regional states, because they are relatively large and
Burundi is quite small.
130. Can I raise what I think is an inconsistency
in policy, and that is, when I asked about raising sanctions against
northern Iraq, you said: "Well, we treat the country as an
entity"; but, actually, that is not quite the case, is it,
because, in the past, we have encouraged the Kurds to rise up
against Saddam Hussein, when I say "we" you may want
to say it is the Americans, but certainly there is plenty of evidence
that the United States actively encouraged the Kurds in various
uprisings. Secondly, the US Congress has a policy, which it passed
last year, called the Iraq National Liberation Act, which is to
fund the Iraqi opposition, with the intention, of course, of destabilising
the regime. So if we, in that case, use one part of Iraq against
another, why cannot we, in the same way, raise sanctions against
the part of Iraq that we actually support and encourage, in some
of their activities?
(Mr Chaplin) I do
not think I would accept your premise. I can only speak for UK
policy, obviously, not for US policy. I do not think it has ever
been UK policy to, as you put it, encourage the Kurds to rise
up against Saddam Hussein's regime. When we got involved in northern
Iraq, way back in 1991, with Operation Safe Haven, that was in
response to a ruthless campaign being waged by Saddam Hussein
against the Kurdish people, with hundreds of thousands of refugees
pouring across the Turkish and Iranian borders; that is how we
became involved, it was not part of that policy to encourage the
Kurds to try to remove Saddam Hussein. And nor is it part of our
policy to encourage any other group, whether inside Iraq or outside,
to bring about a change of regime; our position has always been
that that is for the Iraqi people to decide. The contacts that
we have with Iraqi opposition groups take place mainly in London,
and are confined to encouraging them to speak out about what is
going on in Iraq, because it is important, in our view, that an
alternative voice should be heard, and also to articulate their
vision of what the future of Iraq should be. But we are certainly
not in the business of providing any sort of assistance, military
or otherwise, to these opposition groups, with the purpose of
overthrowing the regime in Baghdad, it is just not part of our
policy.131. Would you say there was a difference in policy then
between the United States and ourselves?
(Mr Chaplin) I think
there are differences in the approach. I think Congress has very
firm views, and it was Congress that voted the money, it is the
US administration that has to decide how to spend that money,
and I do not think they have reached precise decisions on that.
So I do not think it would be true necessarily to say that they
are even now arming Iraqi opposition groups, with the purpose
of overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
132. Mr Chaplin, would you describe the actions we
took in northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Iraq, as interference in
the sovereign affairs of a country?
(Mr Chaplin) I might
turn to our legal adviser here, but I think it was a case of overwhelming
humanitarian necessity that brought about the intervention, I
think that was the legal basis for it; but it was certainly with
a humanitarian purpose that we involved ourselves, as you put
it, in northern Iraq at that time.133. Yes; and, if it was humanitarian,
Elizabeth Wilmshurst, what basis in law does that have?
(Ms Wilmshurst) That
is the basis in law.134. There is no written law?
(Ms Wilmshurst) There
is no written law, it is not in the Charter; but there has developed135.
There is an understanding?
(Ms Wilmshurst) There
has developed a doctrine in international law, yes.136. How fascinating.
(Ms Wilmshurst) It
is not universally agreed on.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed for your help
to the Committee this morning. I think we have learned a lot,
and it sets us off, I hope, in the right direction, to review
what we must do on humanitarian sections of the sanctions regimes.
Thank you very much indeed.