Examination of witnesses (Questions 220
TUESDAY 25 MAY 1999
SAUNDERS and DR
220. You seem to be arguing for the lifting
of sanctions in the north. If this is so, how can we square this
with the United Nations stated aim of maintaining the territorial
integrity of Iraq as a whole? Perhaps you are not really asking
for the lifting of sanctions.
(Mr Saunders) I certainly would not say we were.
221. It would upset those making money out of
it, would it not?
(Mr Saunders) Quite possibly, quite probably.
222. Sanctions are a good thing from the Kurds'
point of view from what you are telling me.
(Mr Saunders) I believe that is the case. I think
the imposition of sanctions has actually allowed the development
of the northern communities without any doubt at all and that
is a good thing. From the humanitarian missions that went into
the north immediately after the Gulf War there was absolute devastation.
This was a terrible, terrible place to be. Over the last nine
yearsand I am not saying it is a wonderful place to be
nowthere has actually been a substantial improvement in
the living conditions of most of the people.
223. Are you not also therefore citing a case
of jealousy and resentment of either the centre and the south
against the north and therefore exacerbating the problems of the
civil war in Iraq?
(Mr Saunders) That is quite possible. I am aware that
both the KDP and the PUK are in frequent discussion with the Government
of Baghdad and both the KDP and PUK do predict a reunification
of Iraq in the future. Whether it is the near future or the mid
term who knows but they are trying to place themselves effectively
so that come that event the impact is going to be as positive
as is possible.
Chairman: I am going to ask Oona King to lead
us on dual-use goods which you also touched upon.
224. I recognise that you are very aware of
the adverse impact that restrictions on dual-use goods do have
on the provision of humanitarian relief. In my own experience
in Burundi it was particularly frustrating and devastating to
see that either fridges were not available even if the medicines
had got through and when they were available that kerosene was
not available. Given that, could you explain to us how the current
process works for exempting dual-use products which could be used
for humanitarian relief and how do you think it could be improved?
(Mr Saunders) Items are presented to the Sanctions
Committee for approval. If there is unanimous approval then those
items can be imported into the country. If there is not unanimous
approval then that item is blocked or put on hold.
225. So some form of qualified majority voting
would be your preference?
(Mr Saunders) It would be helpful, yes.
(Ms Bhatia) I would also like to make the point not
only to have a system of qualified voting but even to have a bit
more transparency on how the decisions are made within the Committees
and a little bit about the voting structures because there really
is not any information on how the Committee make their decisions.
There really is not very much transparency on that.
226. Were you saying earlier that there are
very explicit political reasons, that it just gets entirely bound
up in the political wrangling that is going on and there are just
vetoes for that reason as opposed to a subjective use of humanitarian
(Ms Bhatia) I think you could say there are many examples
that would illustrate that, yes.
227. So how do you think governments can ensure
that restrictions on dual-use goods do not adversely affect humanitarian
(Ms Bhatia) The members on the Sanctions Committee
who have a responsibility for seeing which goods are dual use
or not are actually representatives of the member governments.
Often that means that you are not going to have the same officials
on the Committee and the non-permanent Committee members of the
Security Council revolve so therefore you are not going to have
the continuity. I think perhaps there has to be greater recognition
that many of the humanitarian goods needed by civilians are in
fact dual use and I think that is more the case when you have
prolonged sanctions regimes where you need to go beyond the immediately
humanitarian relief of medicine or food. If we come back to Iraq
a clear case is the need for materials for water sanitation and
basic goods that you need to maintain the civilian infrastructure.
(Mr Saunders) Yes.
228. In Burundi we were told incomes fell dramatically
throughout the early 1990s. Per capita incomes fell from $180
in 1992 to $134 in 1997 and poverty now affects over 60 per cent
of the population as opposed to 32 per cent in 1990. Should donors
continue to provide developing countries with overseas development
aid, even if they are the subject of sanctions regimes?
(Mr Bowden) We believe that governments should continue
to engage with key elements of the aid programme. I think that
I would argue that there should be more conditionalities in aid
that go with that, but one of the things that concerns us is not
just the growth of poverty but the collapse of service structures
and service delivery structures because of the lack of engagement
of external donors. I think this also relates to the question
you were posing earlier that service provision of health care
is far more dependent on external, voluntary NGOs than on the
government's own capacity to deliver services. Services have diminished
and are in danger of collapsing almost entirely because of a lack
of external engagement. I think the problem that is now being
faced in Burundi is that now the sanctions are over it has been
very much more difficult to get external donors to re-engage with
the aid processand to reintegrate Burundi into some sort of international
229. There is something very odd, is there not,
about saying, "You are a rotten lot but we will intervene
to give you certain goodies that we think you ought to have."
It is a terribly murky area, is it not? If they are that that
rotten should they not be encouraged to collapse faster?
(Mr Bowden) I think it depends what you mean by collapsing.
Surely what you are trying to achieve is a political change not
a total collapse of the infrastructure of the country which would
do untold harm to the population of the country.
230. It does not apply in Kosovo. We are busily
destroying the infrastructure.
(Mr Bowden) Then there will be a major rehabilitation
231. You talked earlier about carrots. Are you
suggesting that instead of having a sanctions regime what you
should actually say is, "If you get rid of your present government
we will give you all sorts of things."
(Mr Bowden) I would not put it quite in those terms
but I would say, "If you abide by certain rules, if certain
things happen, we will look at providing support specifically
to basic services", on the basis that you have to be quite
clear when you are looking at service provision. For example,
in Burundi the sort of problems that exist there include the fact
that service has not been provided equally to the different ethnic
groups in Burundi. So I think you have to apply conditions as
to how you will provide support to make sure there is a degree
of equity in terms of service provision. But I think you are going
to get far further if there is a positive engagement in getting
the sort of changes that we are trying to get than just by denying
people access to resources.
(Dr Collinson) There are a few issues I would like
to raise in relation to that question. First, I have heard the
United Kingdom Government and DFID state that development assistance
in general is not appropriate in countries suffering conflict,
and this is something that I assume that they would apply to the
case of Burundi. The reason that worries ActionAid is the narrow
definition of development aid and the distinctions that that statement
assumes between different forms of assistance. I think that there
are often very good reasons for structural assistance and balance
of payments support and so on direct to the government to be suspended
for a period of time for reasons related to the imposition of
sanctions and so on, but that does not mean that development assistance
or a broadly defined understanding of humanitarian assistance
should not continue. I think the challenge is to provide that
assistanceand here I include all forms of assistance that
will help communities survive in the short term and the longer
term, which address the full extent of people's needsthe
challenge is to find alternative channels for providing that assistance
and to use INGO channels, and so on. I do think that during the
period that sanctions were imposed on Burundi there was assistance
going in through NGOs, and the activities of NGOs were very crucial
in providing social support to poor communities in Burundi. But,
I think it was the UN or the UN regional co-ordinator who brought
out a report at the end of December last year where they complained
very bitterly that the donors had not been doing as much as they
could. I would like to quote, they say: "The response of
donors to the 1998 consolidated appeal for Burundi equalled just
one-third of the funds requested, the vast bulk of that in the
form of food aid". And, they say "Even in the light
of the limited support received by the consolidated appeal process
generally, this lack of response is startling." Since the
sanctions have been lifted there has been a resumption or an increase
in these forms of assistance that have not gone directly to the
government. But, I think we are also concerned about the fact
that there has as yet not been a resumption of more structural
forms of aid that might address the very serious and worsening
macro-economic situation in Burundi, which is really causing serious
damage to the economy to the extentI spoke to a member
of our Burundi staff yesterday who saidthe formal economy
is disappearing in Burundi, or words to that effect.
232. This is a different question because what
you are saying is that it is conceivable that the imposition of
a sanctions regime has led to an unwillingness of international
donors to come in. I accept that but it seems to me what you are
talking about now is a post sanctions operation. What I am concerned
about is is it realistic given this amazing word fungibility?
The reason why sanctions are imposed is because the regime is
unattractive, probably very corrupt and rather good at getting
its hands on what is provided. Nothing you have said this morning
gives me the impression that the international NGOs in those situations
are capable of preventing the misappropriation of assistance.
Is it not unrealistic for a country subject to sanctions to be
given assistance with particular programmes when you cannot be
sure that you can stop them going to the corrupt regime which
is the reason for the sanctions in the first place?
(Mr Bowden) To answer your question specifically,
I think that you can ensure that discrete programmes will get
to targeted areas if you are clear in your definition of what
you are trying to achieve. I would not agree to general funding
to the Ministry of Health in Burundi but I would agree a programme
that funded the use of government health services because it is
important to have a programme that includes the use of government
health services and support of them so long as it was very clear
that the condition on which health care assistance was given was
that it was equally accessible to all groups within the population.
You can work through NGOs and other international organisations
to see that that is applied. It is not always the case that ministries
of finance or treasuries will use the money very fungibly because,
for example, immunisation programmes have come to a halt because
there is no money coming in at all. You can fund an immunisation
programme and keep that going. I think you have a responsibility
to keep those sorts of activities going which can only be kept
going through a government service in a discrete way well monitored
by the international community and NGOs. Those are precisely the
sort of things that need to be kept going whatever because the
long-term damage to the population and the difficulty of getting
services going again afterwards is far greater if you ignore them.
233. On the point about emergency assistance
and development assistance, in Burundi it was quite obvious. You
would go to a feeding camp and babies came in and went out when
they got them up to a certain weight and would be back in again
because the programmes of putting in clean water and wells were
not in process because they came under development assistance.
I believe that was not the British Government's intention when
it said it was going to restrict development assistance but it
is an outcome. Do you think it is as simple as changing definitions
or are we talking about a more holistic approach and recognising
the interaction and the escalator approach between development
and assistance? In terms of finding the solution at the moment
is this the tack you are taking saying to governments can you
change the definitions? Is that what you are saying?
(Dr Collinson) I do not think definitional changes
can ever really work unless there is a real commitment to the
substance of what those definitions imply. Certainly our experience
in Sierra Leone was that emergency assistance was rather narrowly
defined and that meant, in that case, that a number of programmes
ceased that were serving the broader needs of the community and
they would broadly fall under the heading of humanitarian, but
were obviously also absolutely essential to development needs.
I think it is an issue of whether there is a true understanding
of the inter-linkages between short term and longer term needs
and the different forms of assistance that are appropriate in
situations of really extreme vulnerability sometimes in these
countries and these situations. On the other hand, and this is
something that I am not saying that we have the answers to, but
there are now very serious questions also about the more traditionally
understood forms of development aid and whether that should resume
to Burundi because, although it is very good to see more assistance
going in through alternative channels and so on, if you do have
a collapse of the formal economy, then those other kinds of measures
are totally undermined if there is soaring inflation and people
cannot afford anything and the economy is collapsing. I think
it is also important to pay attention to the role of what is usually
understood as development aid as well. I think our position is
that the sanctions in Burundi have now been lifted in the region
and it seems curious that development aid freeze could not be
lifted at the same time and now this is being linked to the peace
agreement in the Arusha process. There are definite concerns in
the region that linking the resumption of structural forms of
aid to an agreement at Arusha might even distort the peace process
itself because of the complexities involved in that peace process.
I think this is an area which I would very much recommend the
Committee take up with the Government if they can at a later stage.
Mr Rowe: Why do you think the Government wants
to continue to use sanctions as an instrument of international
234. It is cheaper than war.
(Mr Bowden) I think as we have not been involved in
discussions with the government on sanctions it is a bit difficult
for us to answer why. You take us into the realms of guesswork.
I think that part of the answer must be because it seems to be
an easy option. I understand that there is some discussion of
actually being rather smarter in the use of sanctions. For example,
one of the concerns that I know has affected Africa is looking
at how arms have been funded through the diamond trade. I think
there are possibilities to work more closely with industry and
the mining interest to actually bring greater control on the income
side and to limit the support of the flow of arms through better
targeted sanctions on goods.
235. I wanted to ask about targeting sanctions,
smart sanctions. There is quite a good paper from the United Nations
Association which we were sent suggesting all sorts of ways of
screwing horrible regimes into the ground and certainly arms control
and control of arms brokering in particular was a suggestion.
Have there been any examples of smart sanctions being successfully
applied? Are there any things that we can actually quote?
(Mr Bowden) It is a slightly different area but I
think it does apply and that is the case of Somalia where far
more emphasis is being given to smart conditionalities of aid
with local communities. It is slightly different because there
is not a government as such.
236. I was going to say who do you impose sanctions
on in Somalia.
(Mr Bowden) You impose sanctions on groups and communities
and again humanitarian assistance is not denied anybody but you
have to meet certain conditions if you are to get longer term
aid in a specific area. So I think that has been quite positive
action in getting some groups to formalise their government relationships,
to formalise their approach to them and to recognise the minimum
they have to meet in terms of qualifying for assistance. So that
is one example. I know there is discussion about using smarter
sanctions to deal with arms purchases in Africa specifically in
the Great Lakes region and to look at how that might relate to
the diamond trade coming out of the Congo.
237. Do you think it is feasible if there is
a really foul regime to target their foreign bank accounts and
limit their travel or limit any education and training they and
their families may receive? Is it possible that that could be
(Ms Bhatia) This whole issue about how you implement
smarter sanctions has been discussed at an inter-governmental
level through the Interlaken process. Essentially the debate there
is how you impose this financial pressure. We are not experts
on the subject but I think one of the questions we would certainly
want to ask is why has it not been possible to target specific
(Ms Bhatia) There has not been any Security Council
Resolution that says you can target the bank accounts of particular
leaders and their families and associates and we would want to
239. We all know they have got them and it does
seem strange that we cannot do that.
(Ms Bhatia) Surely that is a very effective means
of financial pressure directly on the regime to target individuals.
(Dr Collinson) I have a very brief follow-up to that
question. One of the conclusions that came out of the research
that we commissioned on the Burundi situation was that so-called
smart sanctions were not likely to be imposed in that situation,
certainly not the freezing of financial assets, and that that
option was not open to the regional governments that were imposing
the sanctions. There was some discussion as to whether a travel
embargo might have been more effective. Certainly one of the comments
I got back from one of our Burundi staff on that issue was that
then you would stop the Government attending the peace process
in Arusha, but that could probably have been got around. I think
a concern of ours is that if the UK and other governments are
looking more and more at smart sanctions as a way out, and as
a way of avoiding humanitarian exemptions to sanctions, we do
not want that to result in less attention being paid to how humanitarian
exemptions can work in situations of comprehensive embargoes and
so on, because we are likely to see those continuing, certainly
when it comes to regional sanctions. I repeat the point that we
do not want the discussion or debate being diverted into smart
sanctions and away from some of the still very key areas relating
to humanitarian exemptions.
(Mr Saunders) Following up the last point and quoting
from the paper of Claude Bruderlein it says: "Whereas
comprehensive sanctions need only limited knowledge about the
target, targeted financial sanctions significantly increase the
need for qualitative information and analysis of the targets'
financial and economic profile." I would agree with that.
I would also agree that you need the same qualitative information
and good analysis of that information if you want to ensure that
exemptions are well applied and are having the least negative
impact on your non-target population within the country. I think
it is really following Sarah's point.