MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY THE SAVE THE CHILDREN
Save the Children was founded in 1919 as a response
to international sanctions. It was set up following the shortages
and devastation of the First World War and in particular the effects
of the Allied blockade in Europe which left families starving.
Save the Children currently works in a number of countries under
some form of sanctions regime, including Burundi, Cuba, Northern
Iraq, Myanmar, and Sudan.
Sanctions have been used throughout history
as an intermediary means, between diplomacy and war, of attempting
to influence the behaviour of national governments. Sanctions
can be imposed unilaterally, regionally or multilaterally under
Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Chapter VII permits the Security
Council to use diplomacy, sanctions and force to safeguard peace
and security. The UN Charter defines sanctions as the "complete
or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea,
air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communications,
and the severance of diplomatic relations" with a nation
that threatens international peace and security or is guilty of
aggression against another nation.
The multilateral use of comprehensive economic
sanctions has increased significantly in the post-cold war. During
the 1990s, UNSC sanctions have been applied in varying form and
duration, in relation to South Africa, Iraq/Kuwait, Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia, Somalia, Libya, Haiti, Angola, Rwanda and the Sudan.
Reasons range from deterring aggresion and terrorism, to defending
democracy and human rights and preventing the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction. Because of the interests of the Development
Committee we are focusing our submission in particular on the
cases of Burundi and Iraq.
Over the last decade the frequency and prolongation
of sanctions regimes, particularly against Iraq, has sharpened
awareness of some of the defects of this foreign policy instrument.
Doubts about effectiveness are now overshadowed by concerns about
the humanitarian costs. Economic sanctions have often been seen
as a non-violent alternative to war. But sanctions are a "blunt
instrument" imposing suffering on the poorest and most vulnerable.
There is also an undercurrent perception that sanctions are mostly
an imposition by the "First" world upon the "Third".
In Supplement to An Agenda for Peace, Secretary-General,
Boutros Ghali, recognised that sanctions "raise the ethical
question of whether suffering inflicted on vulnerable groups in
the target country is a legitimate means of exerting pressure
on political leaders whose behaviour is unlikely to be affected
by the plight of their subjects".
For all the pain they impose, it is debatable
whether sanctions succeed. An influential study
published by the Institute for International Economics in Washington
reviews 116 cases of sanctions imposed between 1914 and 1990.
In only 34 per cent of cases were sanctions successful, based
on the grounds that the desired change had been achieved and could
be attributed to sanctions. The likelihood of "success",
concluded the authors, decreases, as the goals of sanctions become
more general and "ambitious". They concluded that sanctions
work best with clear aims, defined exit strategies and when the
target is economically weak and politically unstable.
Critics argue that sanctions are imposed without
clearly defined and transparent objectives. In Supplement to
an Agenda for Peace, Secretary-General, Boutros Ghali pointed
out that "the objectives for which specific sanctions
regimes were imposed have not been clearly defined. Indeed they
change over time . . . If general support for the use of sanctions
as an effective instrument is to be maintained, care should be
taken to avoid the impression that the purpose of imposing sanctions
is punishment rather than the modification of political behaviour
or that criteria are being changed in order to serve purposes
other than those which motivated the original decision to impose
Save the Children's experience and analysis
shows that it is children who are the innocent victims of sanctions.
Save the Children believes that children's natural vulnerability
is at odds with the disproportionate burden they bear when sanctions
are imposed. Children have much less resistance than other population
groups and are less likely to survive economic austerity, social
deprivation, the persistent shortages of food, and medicines incurred
under sanctions. We are deeply concerned about the following:
1. Persistent violations of the Rights of
Sanctions are imposed to enforce compliance
with international norms with regard to aggression between states
and democratic governance within states. Yet comprehensive economic
sanctions, when in place over a prolonged period of time, and
certainly in the absence of humanitarian exemptions, clearly violates
legal obligations towards the development and survival of children.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the provisions
of the UN Charter that relate to human rights (Articles 1, 55
and 56) provide an international yardstick to judge the impacts
of sanctions on a civilian populaton. SCF would point out that
the children of a given country do not forfeit their basic rights
just because their leaders have violated norms related to international
peace and security. In our opinion, both the targeted state and
sanctioning countries are responsible for upholding the rights
of the child.
Of the cluster of survival rights in the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 27 on the right
to adequate nutrition and freedom from hunger and Article 24 on
access to the highest attainable standard of health is very relevant,
and by no means exclusive to Iraq. Iraq ratified the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child in 1994 under very difficult circumstances,
following a decade of wars, the economic embargo and internal
armed conflict that ended government control over the three northern
Governorates. In its concluding observations of Iraq's Initial
Report, the UN Committee monitoring the Rights of the Child noted
"The embargo imposed by the Security
Council has adversely affected the economy and many aspects of
daily life. Thereby impeding the full enjoyment by the State party's
population, particularly children, of their rights to survival,
health and education . . . The Committee is also concerned at
the number of children leaving school prematurely to engage in
labour, particularly girls . . . The Committee notes with concern
that the economic exploitation of children has increased dramatically
in the past few years and that an increasing number of children
are leaving school, sometimes at an early age, to work to support
themselves and their families".
UNICEF Situational Analysis of Children and
Women in Iraq 1998 also makes sombre reading. It reports widespread
protein malnutrition, pneumonia, diarrhoea diseases, high infant
and under-fives mortality rates, high maternal mortality, inadequate
water and environmental sanitation conditions, especially in rural
areas and the breakdown in the socio-cultural fabric of society.
2. The limitations of humanitarian exemptions,
including Iraq's Oil for Food programme
The sanctions regimes established by the Security
Council now include humanitarian exemptions designed to permit
the flow of essential goods destined for humanitarian purposes.
It is assumed that these exemptions always ensure respect for
basic human rights within the targeted country and that they can
alleviate the negative impacts of sanctions on the poorest and
most vulnerable. One problem is that the definition of humanitarian
assistance is country specific and can change over time. Lifesaving
provisions for emergency food and medicine usually (but do not
always) automatically qualify. Children however, have needs which
go beyond narrowly defined emergency assistance, including the
right to education, survival and development and an adequate standard
For example, Burundi illustrates the devastating
consequences of a regional economic embargo that initially did
not exempt humanitarian goods. The economic embargo initially
included food, medical supplies, agricultural imports and international
flights. Regional economic sanctions were imposed against Burundi
in response to the July 1996 military coup led by Major Pierre
Buyoya. The sanctioning countries (Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda,
Zambia, Ethopia and Zaire) demanded the immediate restoration
of constitutional order and unconditional negotiations between
all parties to the conflict. The international community eventually
negotiated humanitarian exemptions. However, these could not stem
the catastrophic decline in social indicators by that time, given
the civil war, the huge military budget, internal displacement,
price inflation and shortages.
The impacts on children have been devastating.
A lack of co-ordination among the authorities enforcing the sanctions
led to delays in food supplies, fuel, medicines, seeds and sanitary
facilities. Clearance procedures were problematic. There was little
effort made by the exemptions committee to ensure that clear guidelines
were drawn up for officials in their own countries, laying the
system open to personal profiteering and corruption. This had
a negative impact on regular economic activity and caused the
government to slash social spending on essential services.
Drugs were in short supply leading to increases in treatable diseases
such as malaria, typhoid and dysentery. The education system was
also badly affected, given a shortage in chalk, fuel, construction
materials, textbooks and higher household expenses. The impact
of the embargo on the faltering education system will have repercussions
for children in the future.
Economic sanctions in Burundi had little effect
on policital developments, instead creating opportunities for
corruption and highly lucrative black market economic activities
for the elite. "Cross-border smuggling partially attentuated
the effects of sanctions, while benefiting mainly the private
sector and those receiving bribes. Enforcement by some of Burundi's
neighbouring countries was lax. The military regime presumably
benefited from smuggling activities, and appeared capable of generating
foreign exchange through the unauthorised export of small quantities
of tea and coffee".
Similarly in Iraq, the Oil for Food Programme
has its limitations, UNICEF argues that, "The government
has shown the commitment to improve the situation of women and
children in Iraq despite the economic constraints which affect
social programmes. The oil for food programme has provided, temporary,
partial support. Its thrust is for the rehabilitation of structures
and provision of supplies/equipment in the major sectors of health,
water, sanitation and education. What it lacks is the necessary
resources to improve the quality and extent of services, including
social mobilisation and enhanced community participation".
Most recently, one of three panels
set up by the Security Council to take forward policies on Iraq,
presented a bleak picture of the effectiveness of the "oil
for food" programme in an era of falling oil prices. The
panel makes clear that Iraq is responsible for some of the problems
in distributing supplies, particularly medicine. But it concludes
"the humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be
a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi
economy, which in turn cannot be achieved through remedial humanitarian
The report makes a number of proposals to the
These include permitting foreign investment in Iraq's oil economy
and other domestic sectors; releasing some of Iran's frozen assets
into a UN escrow account; temporarily reducing the 30 per cent
Iraq has to pay from its oil revenues into a fund for war reparations.
Most importantly, it suggests that the Sanctions Committee should
allow food and medical supplies, agricultural equipment and basic
educational items to be imported into Iraq without notification.
Other items should be approved within two business days. The Security
Council is currently debating the findings of the three reports.
The Iraqi government has condemned the panel findings claiming
that they will not accept any further arms inspections unless
economic sanctions are lifted.
3. The need for appropriate targeting of
Save the Children's programme experience in
the three Northern Governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan, (Erbil, Dohuk,
Sulaimaniya), demonstrates the need for humanitarian exemptions
to be appropriately targeted to those most in need of assistance.
Preliminary research was carried out in 1998 to ascertain the
impacts of the free food ration on different population groups.
The full report is attached with this submission.
SCF discovered that the universal food ration has been negative
for certain enterprising groups, especially farmers. The ration
has resulted in the dramatic collapse in prices of key agricultural
products, which were the mainstay of the economy. The prices of
all ration items (flour, rice oil, chickpeas, lentils, sugar,
tea and soap) have dramatically fallen. By far the most critical
repercussions concern the extremely low price of wheat which is
now selling at well below the cost of production. As farmers'
incomes have fallen, so has their position as consumers and their
contribution to other sectors (eg transport and trade). The net
beneficiaries of the food ration are the large group of government
employees, as well as the very poor (eg labourers, women headed
households, urban-based groups with no access to land).
Save the Children is concerned that 986 funds,
unless used strategically could further undermine the fragile
economy of the Kurdish autonomous region and perpetuate the dependency
created by the Ba'ath regime. There are a number of important
contradictions. If local purchase of agricultural produce were
permitted under SC resolution 986 then the number of people gaining
from the "oil for food" would increase. This would also
facilitate the objectives of the international humanitarian community
in directing the region away from aid dependency to sustainable
economic and social development. UN agencies such as FAO have
themselves pointed to "the need for economic rehabilitation
and development throughout the whole country. Unless purchasing
power is generated and greater investment is made in agriculture,
additional and necessary high-quality proteins and bio-available
micro-nutrients will be beyond the means of many, and nutritional
problems will persist, despite the improved ration under SCR 986".
We also find it inconsistent that local purchase of processed
products to support other development schemes (eg cement for the
massive building programme) is permitted.
4. The management and operations of sanctions
Various mechanisms have been implemented to
improve the operating procedures of the Security Council Committee
charged with monitoring the sanctions against Iraq. There have
been cases where humanitarian goods have allegedly been banned
for being dual purpose. For example, amylnitrate, which is used
for the treatment of angina, has been banned on the grounds that
one of the ingredients can be used to produce explosives. The
Sanctions Committee on Iraq has been criticised for its inflexibility,
its reluctance to clarify procedures and apparent bias in favour
of certain key members of the Security Council. In response to
these concerns, and the untenable humanitarian situation, the
President of the Security Council, Ambassador Ceslo Amorim, announced
some practical steps towards enhancing the functioning of all
UN Sanctions Committees. In particular, he recommends that: 
Sanctions Committees should increase
transparency through regular briefings by the Chairpersons.
The Chairpersons should make visits
to the regions concerned to obtain first-hand accounts of the
They should monitor the humanitarian
impacts of sanctions on vulnerable groups, such as children and
make adjustments to the exemption mechanisms to facilitate delivery
of humanitarian assistance.
Consider how humanitarian organisations
can apply for humanitarian exemptions directly to the Committees.
Experience from Burundi suggests that standards
covering the management and implementation of humanitarian exemptions
need to be drawn up in the case of regional sanctions regimes.
The wider international community supported Burundian sanctions
to some degree as "an African solution for Africa's problems".
However, they could have taken a number of steps to support regional
governments. Firstly, they should have been constructively critical
when humanitarian exemptions were clearly not being respected.
Secondly, they should have helped regional states define targeted
financial sanctions, such as freezing certain bank accounts, imposing
travel restrictions and enforcing an arms embargo, which was broken
openly on a daily basis. Thirdly, the UN and OAU, should have
agreed on a list of humanitarian exemptions prior to implementing
sanctions and played a role in managing the sanctions regime.
More specifically, regional countries and the international community
could have considered conducting a joint multi-disciplinary assessment
mission to Burundi. This could have been similar to the post-war
mission to Iraq led by Martti Ahtisaari, to assess civilian conditions
and recommend a list of exemptions. Fourthly,
the international community could have established a mechanism
for regular assessment of the humanitarian impacts. With hindsight,
regular assessment would have enabled sanctioning countries to
retarget sanctions towards those in power.
5. Post-sanctions commitment
Sanctions against Burundi were suspended early
this year pending the outcome of the Arusha peace process. At
a recent meeting in New York, the international donor community
agreed on the need to restart limited co-operation. Donors agreed
that co-operation assistance would be limited to supporting community-based
development, and would specifically exclude the possibility of
budget support. Any future structural support is conditional upon
signing of an agreement at Arusha, Tanzania. The guiding principle
behind continuing limited humanitarian assistance is a return
to pre-crisis levels of service provisions, especially in the
sectors of health and education. The EU, for example, is proposing
a package of around 50 million Euros in support of this initiative,
none of which will be channelled through the government. This
will support programmes of a year's duration or less. The wider
donor community, including the Scandinavians, the US, are contributing
to the "Umbrella Project" which is a trust fund to be
administered by UNDP. This is also conditional upon the outcome
of peace talks.
SCF is concerned about the effects of conditional
assistance in the post-Sanctions period. Is it realistic to attempt
to restore functional infrastructures in areas such as health
and education if the Government of Burundi does not have the resources
to make this work? Secondly, there are no positive inducements
to encourage progress. This contrasts markedly with the positive
inducements or "carrots" offered by the international
community to Somalia. Thirdly, will the government be able to
absorb significant amounts of structural aid after the conclusion
of the peace talks without the risks of serious economic distortion.
Fourthly, is it tenable for international NGOs to be the medium
through which this assistance is channelled, without seriously
compromising their position?
1. SCF believes that the international human
rights instruments, including the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions
and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provide widely
accepted principles of conduct in international affairs against
which decisions to impose sanctions should be measured and justified.
Human rights treaty-monitoring bodies, including the Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the
Rights of the Child have argued that such considerations must
be taken into account when designing a sanctions regime. 
2. In SCF's experience, comprehensive economic
sanctions have resulted in a detrimental impact on the lives of
children in countries where they are imposed. The imposition of
sanctions should be avoided whenever possible. The decision to
resort to sanctions should only be taken when other peaceful options,
provided by the UN Charter, and the use of targeted financial
sanctions, are inadequate.
3. The use of SMART sanctions should be
considered before the decision to impose comprehensive economic
sanctions is made. The concept of "SMART Sanctions"
which includes targeted financial measures and arms embargoes,
has been gaining support from UN member states and could provide
a benign alternative to the indiscriminate impact of comprehensive
economic sanctions. Recent measures applied against the military
Junta in Sierra Leone and UNITA in Angola are examples. Switzerland
has recently hosted two Expert Seminars on Targeting UN Financial
Sanctions. Known as the "Interlaken" process, these
seminars have brought together financial experts, governments
and UN agencies to consider how to render sanctions a less blunt
4. Economic sanctions are imposed on the
assumption that the long-term benefits of pressure on pariah regimes
outweigh the immediate cost to children. Our evidence has shown
this not to be the case, even with exemptions in place. However,
given the political realities, the Security Council should ensure
that obligatory and enforceable humanitarian exemptions and agreed
mechanisms for monitoring the impact of sanctions on children
are included in sanctions regimes. To have real impact, the Security
Council should mandate its Sanctions Committees to conduct these
reviews, based on support of relevant UN bodies and information
from NGOs and other humanitarian organisations. Where possible,
child impact assessments should be made at the point of imposition,
with constant monitoring to gauge impacts. The Council should
also consider reviewing the effectiveness of regional exemptions
and monitor the regional humanitarian situation.
5. When operational in countries affected,
by, or about to be affected by sanctions and in circumstances
where international sanctions are unlikely to be lifted, Save
the Children argues for the following:
Free movement in life-saving supplies,
including food, and medicines.
Clear exemptions on humanitarian
provisions and materials needed for education.
Improved targeting of the political
elite. Appropriate measures include freezing of bank accounts,
the denial of visas and the imposition of an arms embargo.
Regional organisations should develop
more satisfactory policy frameworks and operational guidelines
to ensure that humanitarian goals are pursued along with political
6. Sanctioning bodies should be urged towards
greater equity and transparency in their composition and decision-making
process. The Security Council should draw up standard lists of
humanitarian exemptions, and exempt UN and other well-established
agencies from sanctions restrictions when carrying out humanitarian
operations. We would also support the suggestions made by President
of the Security Council, Ambassador Ceslo Amorim, to help improve
the functioning of UN Sanctions Committees.
7. Sanctions should have a clearly defined
purpose, and explicit criteria for determining when they should
be lifted. For sanctions to be justifiable there must be reasonable
prospect that their aims can be achieved. There is also a case
for laying down precisely defined objectives and termination criteria
in future sanctions regimes. UN sanctions now continue until a
decision is taken to lift them. In the Security Council this means
that a single Permanent member can veto the lifting, against the
will of the large majority of the Council. Alternatively, sanctions
could instead require a "green light" for renewal beyond
a specified point. Where possible, the lifting of sanctions should
be linked to positive inducements as a way to resolve the crisis.
Save the Children Fund
1 Supplement to an Agenda for Peace: Position Paper
of the Secretary-General on the Occasion of the fiftieth anniversary
of the United Nations. 3 January 1995, document A/50/60-S/1995/1. Back
Gary Hufbauer, Jeffrey Schott and Kimberly Elliott, Economic
Sanctions Reconsidered. International Institute for International
Economics, Washington, 1990. Back
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the
Child: Iraq. 26/10/98. CRC/C 15/Add.94 (see http: www.unhchr.ch) Back
UNICEF/Iraq. Situational Analysis of Children and Women in Iraq.
April 1998. Back
Statement by Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, Under-Secretary for Humanitarian
Affairs, on the Situation in Burundi, 25 June 1998. Back
E Hoskins and S Nutt. The Humanitarian impact of economic sanctions
on Burundi, 1997. Back
UNICEF. op cit. Back
The three inquiries were set up in January to seek compromises
that would permit arms inspections to resume, improve the health
and welfare of Iraqis and resolve the fate of more than 600 people
who disappeared after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Back
Reported by Global Policy Forum, New York (see www.global/policy.org/security/sanctions/indexone.htm). Back
Not printed. Back
FAO/WFP Food Supply and Nutrition Assessment Mission to Iraq-Special
Report, 3.10.97. Back
Work of the Sanctions Committee: Notes by President of the Security
Council, Amb. Celso Amorim, S/1999/92. January 29, 1999. Back
Hoskins & Nutt. op cit. Back
See General Comment no. 8 of the Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights, Geneva, 1998 (http:www.unchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf). Back