Examination of witnesses (Questions 240
TUESDAY 25 MAY 1999
SAUNDERS and DR
240. I wanted to clarify what you said in relation
to smart sanctions in relation to Burundi. You said that in this
contextthe context being the far-reaching social and economic
consequences of reduced foreign reserves, currency depreciation,
inflation, etceterait is important to note that so-called
smart sanctions were simply not an option for those countries
imposing sanctions against Burundi. Are you saying that it was
not an option for them because the regional country, ie Rwanda,
was not a country that would be in a position to freeze bank accounts?
(Dr Collinson) Yes.
241. If that is the case presumably that has
a huge impact on the regional basis for sanctions if that is the
way the trend is. How do you see that being addressed? Is it better
from your point of view that we should move away from a regional
approach in any event or do you subscribe more to the "African
solutions to African problems" approach?
(Dr Collinson) I think that statement was from the
consultants' report and was not ActionAid's own words. I know
there are some Burundi staff who do think some more targeted approach
might have been possible, for example a flight ban, but it is
not entirely clear how effective that would have been.
242. This is from your Chief Executive. It is
quoting something he said in this context.
(Dr Collinson) Okay. In any case I think what is crucial
to recognise is that that was the decision taken by the regional
governments. Certainly in the Sierra Leone case I think that the
intention was to exert maximum pressure and the way that that
was understood in the region was a comprehensive embargo. They
wanted to take decisive action in a way that all the pressure
they could bring was brought to bear. I think that is particularly
likely when it seems that the more sophisticated forms of sanctions
are less likely to be put into place effectively and quickly by
the region themselves.
243. Surely it would be your preference that
we would move towards a sanctions system if that is going to the
case? Sanctions are always going to be less risky and are almost
a minimal risk to those countries imposing them. Is it not your
preference that we move towards sanctions that in theory target
the elite as opposed to the poorest?
(Dr Collinson) Absolutely, yes, when that is possible.
244. So you welcome this move?
(Dr Collinson) I welcome it but I do not want discussion
of it to detract from equally important discussions about how
to deal with comprehensive embargoes when they are imposed, because
I do believe they will continue to be imposed, perhaps not always,
but they are still an issue.
Chairman: We do not want to complicate the issue!
245. I want to check out what I am hearing.
We have talked about sanctions and that has led us repeatedly
to talk about Burundi and Iraq. But I heard you talking earlier
about conditionalities and that means that you do not just have
sanctions but all sorts of other pressures which are applying
to different nations. If you look at Africa you could think of
Somalia, the Sudan, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Angola, the
Congo, and there must be others, where the relations between those
states and the outside world have conditionalities around them.
Is that how you think we really should think not of sanctions
just as a separate arena but as a whole set of conditionalities
including what we call sanctions and that is a more profitable
way of looking at things?
(Mr Bowden) Yes, that would certainly be my personal
view. I think that for a number of reasons the problems that we
are dealing with in a number of countries in Africa are now very
complex. Not just are they complex they tend to be regional so
a sanction tends to be based on the country. A lot of the problems
that may exist frequently have a regional dimension and therefore
the application of sanctions in itself may not be the most appropriate
tool. I would also say that we have created in many instances
through sanctions pariah states where we have only sticks to beat
them with but when things get worse in that country we have not
got any other means by which we can apply pressure. This is the
one shot option. They have already been made pariahs, they have
no aid, they have sanctions but if things continue to get worse
how then can you exert influence, which is why you need to have
more weapons in the armoury if I can put it that way, to be able
to look at more positive conditionalities that will re-engage
people and make them see why they should be more constructively
involved in change. I would argue therefore that we do need to
give far more thought to positive conditionalities that can be
used effectively and can be used regionally as well as just nationally.
246. Let us take Nigeria as an example which
is a very big important country. Do you think the negative actions
and negative sanctions or conditionalities which have been applied
to Nigeria have had any influence in causing the military to return
(Mr Bowden) You have got me on the one country that
I am very weak on and I really would not be able to give you a
judgment one way or the other from my perspective.
(Dr Collinson) The only point I wanted to add to the
general point was that we should not lose sight of the role of
more traditional forms of constructive diplomacy. This is what
is at the heart of the region, in the Burundi case, is trying
to achieve in Arusha and certainly ActionAid's position is that
any sanctions regime, whether it is targeted or not, and any enforcement
action needs to be flanked by a very constructive political process
and traditional forms of diplomacy which keep the channels of
247. I think everyone's gut reaction to the
sort of situation that we have seen in Iraq and indeed in Yugoslavia
in the last couple of years is that they want to go in and take
out the person who is responsible for starting all this. We are
well on the way to setting up an International Criminal Court.
Do you think there is any way the United Nations could set up
some sort of hit squad or unit that could actually target those
individuals who are flagrantly abusing human rights within their
own countries and take them out? I do not mean go in and kill
but go in and take them out and try them in an international court.
(Ms Bhatia) I think there is a wider discussion taking
place within the United Nations about how you can bring together
all of these issues we have been talking about on sanctions. I
think OCHA is trying to advocate for a sanctions process and monitoring
unit, the idea being that you have one unit which would oversee
the implementation of all UN sanctions. That is one idea. Talking
about human rights violations more broadly, there have been other
discussions about having human rights monitors to go in when we
248. We do but it is all so cumbersome.
(Ms Bhatia) The idea is that it needs to be brought
together. We need to have some comprehensive way of bringing it
249. Is the United Nations capable of doing
that? Are you not asking too much of international organisations?
(Ms Bhatia) No, I do not think so.
250. Have they got the capacity?
(Ms Bhatia) I think there is always room to improve
(Mr Bowden) One of the brighter aspects recentlyand
I have to admit to being suspicious of its effectiveness in the
pasthas been the tribunal over the genocide in Rwanda where
there is a process of special investigators because I think that
what you are arguing for requires not so much a human rights monitoring
approach but a special investigative approach using police and
other means to actually identify
251. But that is after the event unfortunately.
(Mr Bowden) That is after the event and perhaps there
is more of a case for setting up some standing group to look at
this during the event because I think it is a totally different
approach than that which has taken place on human rights monitoring
and therefore you would need some special prosecutors with a standing
special prosecutors' office with the resources to undertake investigations
and international powers to freeze bank accounts.
252. Thank you all very much for coming and
going through this difficult issue with us. Just one final quick
question, Mark Bowden. You referred to the cessation of aid to
Zanzibar when you started. This is the first time I personally
have heard of this. Was this co-ordinated by any organisation
such as the United Nations or the OECD? Has this been accompanied
by any other political sanctions or other actions against Zanzibar?
(Mr Bowden) As I understand it, it was co-ordinated
by the main bilateral donor group. The UN is not part of it but
because the UN funding is dependent on external assistance from
the main bilateral donors there is virtually no aid going to Zanzibar.
The main bilateral donors in Tanzania have all agreed not to give
assistance to Zanzibar on the basis of the current political problems
on the two islands. There is political action that has taken placetwo
initiatives, one by the Commonwealth Secretariat and another by
the OAUto try and get some resolution to the political
problem and what is seen as human rights abuses of opposition
parties in Pemba in particular.
253. Is this on a religious basis?
(Mr Bowden) It is a split between the two islands.
The majority party got in by a very narrow majority of one vote
and it was assumed that that was a rigged election. Well it was!
And essentially there have been problems with the government of
the islands since then and I think part of it has been an unwillingness
for donors to engage in any bilateral assistance programme to
254. So this is collusion between the aid agencies
and the Tanzanian Government against Zanzibar?
(Mr Bowden) The Zanzibar Government is part of a union
and it has a separate government in Zanzibar. I do not think it
is exactly collusion. The Tanzanians have accepted it. It is up
to the donors as to how they want to operate. Again we feel (and
we have undertaken a study to look at this) that immunisation
services have more or less collapsed and the number of patients
seen in health facilities has collapsed dramatically over the
last few years. We think it is another case where we are using
the model of the pariah state and creating Zanzibar as a pariah
which has again not brought about any political change that we
can see in Zanzibar but has done very serious damage to the population.
It is another example of where aid was so important in the running
of the services that its unilateral withdrawal
255. That is a very important point. Perhaps
you will keep us informed about that when you have finished your
study. I think the Committee would be very interested to hear
what the outcome is. Dr Collinson?
(Dr Collinson) I just wanted to make one very brief
point which I wanted to make earlier which was to perhaps recommend
that the Committee look at a proposal that came from OCHA, and
this was with specific reference to the Burundi situation, that
the UN Security Council be encouraged to set up a regional sanctions
advisory committee. Our view is that that committee should not
only have responsibility for the humanitarian aspects of sanctions
but should encourage more effective political engagement of the
UN in situations of regional sanctions in the future.
Chairman: Thank you all very much indeed both
for your evidence this morning and for the painstaking written
evidence you have given us. It is a most important and difficult
subject. Thank you very much indeed.